We've had a great tour through the park. My recommendations are: 1. if you prefer bottled water, bring a bottle along with you (or buy one before the entrance), as there is no water for sale in the park, though there are several (regular drinking) water taps. 2. bring a sun tan lotion, 3. better wear closed shoes (sneakers are OK); my wife didn't do so and got bitten by a bug. The entrance fee is $10 for a whole day (7:00-16:00), as many entries as you want. I also want to highly recommend our guide there Estelle Mansuelle, a French native who lived for the last 20 years in Costa Rica and speaks excellent English (as well as Spanish and France, of course). She's very professional, patient and pleasant. I am including here her details.
Pacific coast diving is awesome. You can learn to dive, advance your skills with loads of different courses or just come fun bubbling. Lots of wildlife, plenty of white tip reef sharks, rays and eels. Always big schools of jacks and surgeons. Its pretty much year round but vis is most reliable between december and may. If you want something thats a little bit more adventurous scuba diving is it! Kids can start with special adventure programs from as young as 8. If scuba may be a little too much adrenaline then, Snorkelling tours are great for the whole family as well with such an abundance of life just moments away from shore. With the tropical heat its just great to be in the water.
The tour company calls this "Canyoning"
We were the only ones doing this and for the four of us there were three guides. Since it was the green season, it was raining, but it didn't matter, we were wet anyway!! We rappelled down the falls and the climbed back up (photo 3)
The website says that the Tour includes :
7 am: Transportation , breakfast , equipment
professional guides , 4WD safari ride , mountain hiking ,
180 - foot waterfall climbing , 180 - foot waterfall rappelling ,
40 - foot free fall adventure , swimming , Snacks ,
The family had two things they particularly wanted to do in Costa Rica and zip lines was one of them. We drove up to Manuel Antonio and then booked the zip lines and all we could get was the 2 pm one. But it was quite fun, and we enjoyed it even though there were a lot of other people doing it at the same time.
The Titi Canopy Tour had 16 platforms four of which are build on the ground and the other twelve hang 90 feet above it from trees.
The other thing we wanted to do here was white water rafting. We have done the rafting in other locations and we wanted to try it again. My son and husband were in the front of the raft and my daughter and I were in the back. It was raining (it was the green season) but it didn't matter we were wet anyway.
This was a half day trip. It was pretty strenuous. My son was too tired (after waterfall rappeling and white water rafting) to eat dinner.
Naranjo River: Class III – IV (green season) challenging for more experienced paddlers
Cost : Half day (4 Hours) $79
I went rafting in November to the Naranjo River and it was great. Before the rafting trip starts they walk you down a spice farm and show you cinnamon trees, lemon grass, hombre grande (a terrible tasting plant use to kill germs in your stomach) and vanilla. The rafting was a lot of fun, the river was big and you can tell they love what they are doing. A kayaker came along with the raft for safety and it looked as he was dancing down the rapids.
They kept telling me to come back in January because the rafting was even better and so I did. The upper section of the Naranjo is called Chorro and it was crazy fun. I totally recommend this trip for adventure seekers. They are the only ones who run this section so be sure you ask for CHORRO!
While the tour operators, booking agents and travel agencies in Quepos will try and tell you otherwise, The nighgtlife in Quepos is pretty much non-existant. Quepos is dead after 7pm. Other than a few restaurants and it's proximity to Manuel Antonio Park, I wouldnt suggest booking a whole vacation to Quepos to anyone. The place is dirty, and dumpy, and it is flat out boring.
If you'd like a real vacation with great nightlife, the best variety of Restaurants, Accommodations, Tours, and much more to see and do, book your vacation to the Jaco Beach & Los Suenos area. It's the most popular destination in the country. The fishing is also better out of the Los Suenos-Jaco Beach area than it is out of Quepos.
Manuel Antonio National Park & Wildflife Reserve is only an hour drive South of Jaco. It makes for a great day trip, where you could see the park, the wildlife, and the beaches there then get back to the livliest and most fun place to visit in all of Costa Rica. Jaco Beach.
There have been a lot of improvements to the Jaco Beach area over the last 6 months, and despite the abundance of out-dated negative reports and reviews about Jaco, they have really cleaned it up, made it safer, and have further improved everything about it.
It's the #1 destination in Costa Rica for good reason, and thousands of visitors every year that were lucky enough to choose Jaco Beach as the place to visit in Costa Rica have enjoyed the best Costa Rica vacations there.
Well, if you're in this area, how can you not do Manuel Antonio.
A couple things for first timers. Manuel Antonio sits at the end of the main road coming from Quepos. There are relatively no side roads. The bus runs every 30 minutes and will take you right to the park (it's virtually impossible to get on the wrong bus). Learn the buses!
The park costs around $7.00 (under 12 free). Near the park, you will be confronted by people wanting to be guides. We were offered prices (for 4 people) from $50 to $160. I'm sure we could have found one cheaper, but we weren't interested. You absolutely do not need a guide, and the park is too small and too well marked to get lost. That said, a guide will almost guarantee that you will see snakes, monkeys, sloths etc., as they keep in touch with each other and let each other know the animals' locations. Some also supply food, and have very powerful telescopes that you can take pictures through.
The choice is yours, but be sure and get a good rate.
We went during the rainy season and had most of the trails to ourselves. The main beach was the most crowded (20 people) and is where we saw the most wildlife (monkeys, raccoons, and a large German couple changing out of their swimsuits in front of everyone). Watch your possessions! There was a raccoon going from bag to bag seeing what kind of goodies he could steal. This baby was not shy.
The park is beautiful, with well marked trails and gorgeous beaches. There is no sense of roughing it. At times they have a concessions stand open, there are bathrooms, primitive showers if you go swimming, and even pay phones. It's still beautiful though. None of it has pavement, or sidewalks.
It's mostly like going to a large nature center, but an extremely beautiful one with wonderful beaches.
If you take the back way out down the service road, you will exit by some small hotels that are tucked away in the woods. There are some small stands here selling food and drinks. As you exit, make a left to get back to the main road.
Of course you have to do one! They're fun, they're safe, and when you get home, everyone will ask if you did a canopy tour. There are plenty, but we did Canopy Safari. They pick you up at the hotel, take you on the canopy tour, give you lunch, and if you ask nice, they stop at a small roadside bar on the way back.
Obviously we can't compare to the other tours, but these guys were great. The guides were lively, great with the kids, and really seemed to enjoy what they were doing. Plus they were very safety conscious. You're never unhooked from a line, and they do all the coupling and uncoupling for you.
In case you're not familiar, canopy tours involve taking a drive out to the forest, getting hooked up to a cable, and rolling down it along the tree tops. It is an absolute blast and requires no skill or special knowledge. The guides hook you up and are always in control. You can hang upside down, spin around or whatever. It's exhilarating. The actual zip lines probably wouldn't be too much of a problem if you have height issues, but on this tour you have to repel twice from platforms located 100ft or more up a tree. That seemed to give people the most problems. Again, the guides let you do some of the work, but ultimately control your decent, so you can't go smashy smashy on the ground.
For kids, we took our 7 & 12 year olds, and they absolutely loved it.
It was about $60 per person. and it goes from like 8:00am to 1:00pm. They will try to sell you a photo CD of your adventures for about $25 a person.
We took a fun trip to a waterfall on horseback. It was very peaceful, and the scenery was amazing. We booked through Ranchos Los Tucanes (Several people recommended Finca Valmy, but we booked at the last minute and had trouble reaching them). The horses seemed a bit on the old side, but still had spirit. Our guide, Hugo, made sure we enjoyed ourselves, helped out with the kids, and even joined us swimming to show us where to go. The trip takes place just outside of a town called London, where Hugo grew up.
This cost about $50 per person.
The waters off Quepos are teaming with life. There have been over 100 IGFA records set for fish caught in these waters. December through march is the prime time to catch sailfish, it is not uncommon for one boat to land a dozen sails in a day. There is also a large selection of other species including marlin, Mahi-Mahi, tuna, wahoo, snapper, snook and roosterfish. Dont go home and wished you had fished.
Follow the signs in the park- it is 800 metres up a small trail to see the National park from above- wear good footwear and don't go up if it has been raining a lot as the trail can get very muddy and slippery.
The downside of the national park is the daily entrance fee and big crowds of tourists. When it is nice, you don't have to pay anything to sit on the public beach unless you want to spend a few bucks to rent a beach chair and umbrella! Men will come up and down the beach with wares to buy, offers to get you lunch or drinks or my favourite, the sno-cone man!
Be vigilant about your things on the beach- don't leave them unattended and hold onto them if you are sleeping!
I had undergone major surgery for cancer, so was unable to enjoy my normal adventurous activities. There is so much to do and see in Costa Rica...so I'm counting down my days until I go back. The one thing we were able to enjoy was a horseback ride.
We booked our trip through the El Parador hotel...and were impressed from the beginning to the end. We saw many different areas of the rainforest, and were able to stop along the way to learn about the different plant and tree species and their uses in pharma companies. We were also able to stop and enjoy waterfalls...and swim in the spring pools...a perfect break on a hot day.
Because it was with a local...we learned a ton...while we enjoyed the scenery. And it was cheap!
i've always wanted ot take surfing lessons, and manuel antonio seemed to be the place to go for it--and i'm so glad i did!
i took lessons from alex and luis at kobe surf--they have a tent on the beach, closer ot the end of the beach that is further from the national park. it's easy to find alex, and you can ask around.
both were great--i was very nervous, but they totally knew what they were doing, and i stood up on the surfing board both days that i took lessons! they were also good about making sure to keep me off of waves that were too big, and that i knew the basics of handling hte board.
i definitely recommend checking them out when you're in manuel antonio.