(2021) Must-Know Info About Manuel Antonio Costa Rica From Frequent Visitors

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We love Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

If you’re familiar with our blog, you probably already know that, in part due to our work for Pura Vida! eh? Inc. (our Costa Rica discount business), we’ve spent years exploring Costa Rica in search of the best experiences you can have here. It may surprise you, however, to learn that when we established our business more than a decade ago, the first coastal destination we set out to research was Manuel Antonio. Why? Because Manuel Antonio has long been our favorite beachfront community to visit in Costa Rica; It offers an endless list of things to see and do, it has several beautiful beaches and a national park that’s easy to access and full of social wildlife, and it offers everything you might want or need during your visit, including a variety of accommodations, restaurants, shops, and services that range in price, quality, and offerings. Since Manuel Antonio keeps getting better with time, we visit it as often as we can, not only to stay on top of new developments and try out new experiences to report back to you about, but also to return to the beachfront community we feel most at home in.

To save you from the many “Manuel Antonio city guides” you’ll find online that don’t offer much beyond links to hotel and tour booking sites that provide monetary kickbacks to the guide’s creators, we’ve compiled the below resource. Our Manuel Antonio city guide provides new and sound information about Manuel Antonio Costa Rica that’s based on knowledge and firsthand experience acquired over several years, compiled by individuals who have long had (and continue to have) close ties to the town. If this kind of resource is up your alley, continue reading below and know that we’re grateful you prefer valuable content.

Visiting multiple destinations in Costa Rica? Don’t miss our other free Costa Rica city guides:

La Fortuna / Arenal City Guide
Monteverde City Guide
Puerto Viejo City Guide
San Jose City Guide
Alajuela City Guide
Grecia, Sarchi, and Zarcero City Guide

Manuel Antonio basics: What to expect

A sample of our personal photos from around Manuel Antonio:


Manuel Antonio’s layout is unique in that the destination is not contained within a concentrated geographical area. Instead, the area most commonly referred to throughout tourism discourse as “Manuel Antonio” is a community that spans the vast central Pacific mountainside that splits the port town of Quepos (to the north) and the Manuel Antonio National Park (to the south). Though Quepos and the national park both sit at beach level, most Manuel Antonio businesses and establishments are spread out over the stretch of mountainous landscape that divides the two areas.

Atmosphere and presence of tourism

There’s no doubt about it: Manuel Antonio is touristy. You’ll find a ton of tourism development in and around the community, from accommodations and restaurants to adventure centers and tourism offices. You’ll also find a ton of variety within each of these categories, from hostels to high-quality hotels; fancy places to eat and quaint, trendy cafes; large-scale adventure parks and small, intimate-feeling attractions; and reputable tour operator offices and street-side salespeople (especially around the entrance to the Manuel Antonio National Park). Though the abundance of tourism that exists in Manuel Antonio repels some travelers, most others are drawn in by the ample opportunities there are to craft an ideal vacation. Regardless of whether you’re on a budget or on your dream honeymoon, or whether you’re a solo backpacker or a parent with kids in tow, you can build your dream Costa Rica vacation with the diverse tourism that abound in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica.

Despite being a small, rural, mountainside community with a fishing-town vibe, the group of modern, tourism-centered establishments that dot Manuel Antonio give the destination an urban feel. Between the town of Quepos and the Manuel Antonio National Park you’ll find tons of development, though some of it is built back from the main street (Road 618) and hides among the area’s lush slopes. Around nearly every curve you’ll find a well-kept hotel, modern restaurant, or tourism outfit, which confirms you’ve rolled into a tourist town despite finding yourself in the middle of natural-feeling, rainforest-wrapped mountainside. Adding to the area’s metropolitan state are the banks, ATMs, gas stations, medical clinic, hospital, pharmacies, police station, post office, laundromats, grocery stores, and other services scattered around (or just outside of) Manuel Antonio and Quepos.

Also worth mentioning is that, although Manuel Antonio isn’t a party town per se, it has a bustling (albeit understated) nightlife. If you’re interested in the night scene, there are clubs, low-key bars, LGBTQ bars, and casinos you can spend time at.

Language: Is English spoken in Manuel Antonio?

English (broken) is widely spoken in Manuel Antonio. Though most Costa Ricans aren’t bilingual, the majority of locals who work as tour guides, restaurant wait staff, and hotel reception staff in Manuel Antonio are able to converse in Spanish and English. Many other individuals who work in the tourism industry, including drivers and hotel cleaning staff, as well as other townspeople, such as individuals who work at banks, pharmacies, and grocery stores, have at least a basic understanding of English. Since Manuel Antonio’s economy relies heavily on tourism, tourists (and the practice of the English language) is welcome in Manuel Antonio.


A sample of our personal photos from some of the Manuel Antonio hotels we’ve stayed at:

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