General InfoManuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio Travel Guide

  • June 29, 2023
  • Villa Punto de Vista

Do you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Want to connect with nature and take things slow? Manuel Antonio, a small yet beautiful region in the province of Puntarenas, may just be the destination for you.

Our brief Manuel Antonio guide will give you an idea of everything to expect on your trip. Let’s get started.

Visiting Manuel Antonio

Why go to Manuel Antonio? For one thing, the region is absolutely beautiful. Everywhere you go, you’re surrounded by thick, green forests and fascinating wildlife.

For another, there’s so much to do in Manuel Antonio. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a nature lover or you just want a place to relax, you’ll find something that speaks to you here. Here are a few tips for planning your trip.

Manuel Antonio Seasons

There are several factors you’ll need to consider while deciding when to visit Manuel Antonio. Weather, tourism and holidays tend to be the biggest factors for most travelers.

The average daytime temperature stays between 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit with a cool sea breeze year-round. At night, it cools down to a comfortable 70 to 75 degrees. Additionally, because Costa Rica is so close to the equator, the sun consistently sets around 6 p.m.

Tourism tends to ebb and flow throughout the year based on the weather in the rest of the world. Here’s a quick overview of what each season looks like:

  • High season: Costa Rica’s peak tourist season lasts from late November to early May. Rainfall is sparse, and the sun often shines all day long. Many businesses stay open later to cater to tourists during this season.
  • Shoulder season: This short transitional period between the dry and green seasons lasts from May to mid-August. Many international school groups visit during this season because it coincides with their summer vacations. The weather is usually warm and sunny in the morning with light afternoon showers.
  • Green season: As the rainiest and quietest part of the year, mid-August to early November is the best time to visit Manuel Antonio for those looking to get away from the crowds. Most days, we experience a few hours of rain in the afternoon or evening — the perfect backdrop for sipping a fresh cup of coffee as you rest from your adventures.
  • Whale season: Costa Rica is a popular mating destination for humpback whales, which migrate to the equator from mid-August to October. While you may still see whales later in the year, visiting during peak whale-watching season will be your best bet.
  • Holiday season: Beginning the few weeks before Christmas and lasting until after New Year’s, Costa Rica’s holiday season is another major tourist season.
  • Semana Santa: The week leading up to Easter is also quite busy, with many towns holding religious processions and celebrations throughout the week. Locals who don’t celebrate usually spend time relaxing at the beach with family and friends.

Trip Duration

How many days should you spend in Manuel Antonio? From nature walks to cultural experiences, there’s so much to do here that you’ll want to budget at least four to five days. While you can experience a lot in three days, it’ll be a very fast-paced vacation.

Many like to spend a full week here, dedicating at least half a day to each activity they want to try. Others choose to spend four or five days in Manuel Antonio before finishing their trip somewhere else, like Monteverde or Arenal.

Magical Beaches

One of the best things to do in Manuel Antonio is to spend a day lounging on the region’s lovely beaches. Each beach has a character of its own, so we recommend visiting at least two if you have the chance.

Here are our top five favorite Manuel Antonio beaches.

1. Playa Espadilla Norte

Playa Espadilla Norte, sometimes called Playa Primera or Playa Uno, is conveniently located just outside Manuel Antonio National Park. With long golden sands stretching along the region’s coastline for more than a mile, the beach is perfect for long sunset walks.

As the main tourist beach, Playa Espadilla is full of opportunities for family fun. Lifeguards keep watch over the beach, so it’s a good choice if you’re traveling with small children. There are also plenty of activities to choose from, including parasailing, horseback riding, kayaking and more.

While it can get crowded, Playa Espadilla offers more amenities than the quieter beaches. You’ll be able to rent paddleboards, beach chairs, umbrellas and more during the high season. Plus, you’ll have lots of different food stalls to choose from if you’d like to enjoy a delicious lunch on the beach — or pack your own and have a picnic!

2. Playa Espadilla Sur

Also known as Playa Segunda or Playa Dos, Playa Espadilla Sur is less crowded than Playa Espadilla. It’s located on the north side of the Punta Catedral, one of the park’s most iconic hills.

Because Playa Espadilla Sur is more secluded than Playa Espadilla and Playa Manuel Antonio, it’s perfect for those looking to get away from the crowds. The water can get a little too rough for swimming some days, so you’ll want to be careful when visiting. Either way, the beach’s natural beauty is well worth the hike.

If you’re looking for a little adventure on your beach day, we recommend hiking the 0.9-mile Sendero Punta Catedral trail before unwinding on the beach’s soft sand.

3. Playa Manuel Antonio

As the second-best beach in Central America, Playa Manuel Antonio is the national park’s central destination. While the walk to get there is slightly longer than the hike to Playa Espadilla Sur, it’s more easily accessible.

This beach is teeming with wildlife. Small fish and other sea creatures swim in the tidal pools. Monkeys climb the tree “highway” above you while coatis and white-tailed deer walk along the nearby path. Just don’t leave your bag unattended for too long — the monkeys are known to steal from tourists!

Playa Manuel Antonio is one of the more popular beaches, so if you’re visiting during the high season, be sure to arrive early. Bathrooms and changing rooms are available, but you’ll need to pack your own lunch for the day.

4. Playa Biesanz

Looking for something a little more private? Head to the peninsula of Punta Quepos to visit Playa Biesanz. Originally used as a fishing ground by the indigenous Quepoa people from the 16th to the 18th century, this small, secluded beach is rich with local history.

You’ll have to hike about 10 minutes through the jungle to get there, but trust us — it’s well worth the walk. The forest is a wonderland of life, with monkeys and sloths moving through the thick canopy and brilliantly colored birds flitting from tree to tree.

During the high season, you can rent lounge chairs, umbrellas, paddleboards and more from the many vendors along the beach. You’ll also find a variety of food stalls to choose from — or you can bring your own food for an idyllic picnic by the sea.

5. Playa La Macha

Playa La Macha is the most secluded of Manuel Antonio’s beaches, making it an excellent spot for those who want to bask in the ocean’s natural serenity. With clear, calm waters and smooth sand, Playa La Macha is a tranquil natural getaway.

Because there’s no direct access to the beach from the road, it’s the most challenging beach to get to. But the reward is more than worth the effort — after around 40 minutes of hiking through the rainforest, you’ll have your own private beach.

On your way, take in the environment around you. You never know what animals you’ll encounter. For example, you might see elegant white-tailed deer walking nearby and adorable white-faced Capuchin monkeys swinging through the trees.

Once you and your group reach the smooth golden sand, you might find that you’re the only ones there. Stretch out along the sand or wade in the light emerald water and listen to the gentle waves roll into the shore.

The only drawback to La Playa Macha is the lack of amenities. Because it’s such a secluded beach, you won’t find any food vendors or showers nearby. Bring some snacks, sandwiches and plenty of water with you to get the most out of your day.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, and nowhere is that more evident than Manuel Antonio National Park. On your journey through the park, you’ll walk through multiple different habitats, including both primary and secondary rainforest, mangroves, wetland and beach.

These habitats are home to a breathtaking variety of flora and fauna, including monkeys, reptiles, deer, sloths, coatis and all sorts of colorful birds. The wildlife is used to human tourists, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to snap some close-up photos as you hike through the park’s accessible boardwalk trails.

The park is open Wednesday through Monday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., including on holidays. While you don’t need a tour guide for entry to Manuel Antonio National Park, taking a guided tour is one of the best ways to explore the park.

We recommend beginning the day with a guided tour and spending the rest of the afternoon lounging on the beach. You’ll want to book a tour well in advance through a legitimate agency to ensure you can get a spot.

It’s also important to note that you can’t bring food into the forest with you — this rule helps the rangers protect the local wildlife. However, you can bring water, soda and other non-alcoholic beverages. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as the tropical sun gets hot in the dry season.

What to Do in Manuel Antonio

There’s so much to do in Manuel Antonio, we can’t list it all here. But we can point you in the right direction. Here are some of our favorite Manuel Antonio travel recommendations.


If you want to see Costa Rica from a local’s point of view, schedule a tour with a knowledgeable tour guide. From exploring picturesque spice farms to cooking local dishes, you’ll find many guided activities in Manuel Antonio to delight everyone in your group.

If you plan to take a tour, make sure to book at least 48 hours in advance! Costa Rica is a small country, and there are only so many guides available. Additionally, most tour vendors require a valid credit card or deposit to confirm bookings.


Eating is an adventure in Manuel Antonio. You have an enormous variety of options, from traditional Costa Rican cuisine to Middle Eastern and Thai restaurants.

During the low season, most restaurants close around 9:00 p.m., and most bars close around 11:00 p.m. In the high season, though, some businesses will remain open later. It’s also helpful to know that because Costa Rican restaurants automatically add a 10% gratuity to your bill, tips aren’t expected. That said, you’re more than welcome to tip your server in recognition of excellent service.

In terms of nightlife, the scene is just as laid-back and relaxed as the area. Some restaurants host live music and entertainment on the weekends, but you won’t find any nightclubs or raves here — instead, you’ll find a natural oasis away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And that’s the essence of Pura Vida.


Want to pick up some souvenirs? Explore the shops and stalls in the local community to find all sorts of gifts. From lovingly crafted wooden pieces to fun knick-knacks, there’s something for everyone on your list.

If you can’t get enough of shopping, you can also take a little excursion to nearby Quepos. You won’t find a large shopping mall, but there are lots of locally-owned boutiques and art galleries to peruse.

And if you need to pick up any last-minute essentials, there are plenty of small grocery and convenience stores nearby. Check with your concierge for more specific information.


Feeling adventurous? Manuel Antonio offers plenty of opportunities to get off the beaten path and have some fun, including:

  • Fishing: Experienced anglers and beginners alike will enjoy nearshore and deep-shore fishing in Costa Rica’s central Pacific waters.
  • Snorkeling: Explore the beautiful emerald shallows of Costa Rica’s shoreline on a family-friendly snorkeling adventure.
  • White-water rafting: An exciting day on the river’s churning rapids is a great opportunity for family bonding and teamwork building.
  • Canopy tours: Looking for a thrill? Fly above the magnificent treeline with colorful macaws and toucans on a zipline canopy tour.
  • Horseback riding: Journey through Costa Rica’s exotic landscapes and experience local history on a one-of-a-kind horseback adventure.
  • Scuba diving: Explore the mysterious underwater world of Caño Island on an unforgettable scuba excursion.


Many excursions begin early in the morning, so look for a service that will pick you up at your accommodations to ensure you’re there on time!

Experience Manuel Antonio at Villa Punto de Vista Estate

Whether you’re planning a family reunion, wedding, birthday or corporate retreat, the Villa Punto de Vista Estate is the place for you. Our fully staffed luxury villas can accommodate up to 50 guests combined, and we’re happy to arrange extra accommodations if you’re traveling with a larger party.

And if you need Manuel Antonio travel recommendations at any time, just ask! You’ll have access to a knowledgeable concierge both before and during your stay, so you can create an exciting itinerary for everyone in your party.

Ready for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation at a luxury villa in Costa Rica? Check our current availability and rates online. We can’t wait to welcome you to Costa Rica.

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