During my backpacking in Costa Rica I visited different destination. I also visited the Manuel Antonio National Park. I thought this national park was one of the coolest national parks in Costa Rica. The town of Quepos is perfectly located for a visit to this beautiful National Park.
Quepos is a fun and lively town on the west coast that is frequented by tourists, but less than Manuel Antonio. The bus station is almost too small for the number of buses that arrive daily.
Curious about the top 5 most beautiful national parks in Costa Rica? Check it out!
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Costa Rica. The national park is especially visited a lot by Americans. The Manuel Antonio National Park has beautiful beaches and lots of wildlife. Because it’s quite populair, you often share these beaches with (many) others. This also differs per beach.
The area is hilly, so prepare for a fair amount of stairs. The humidity is very high and that makes it very hot and sweaty. Don’t forget to apply anti-mosquito repellents against the many mosquitoes.
The bus ride to the park takes about 20 minutes from Quepos and costs 310 columns (€ 0.50) per person. A bus leaves every 12 minutes, making the park easily accessible from Quepos.
Entrance to the park is 9072 columns (€ 14). A wide sand / pebble path runs through the park with small paved side paths. The first side path on the left takes you to the waterfall, but unfortunately it is almost dry in dry-season. You also have to walk down this path to get back to the main path and to continue exploring the park. The national park also has some very nice viewpoints.
Beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park
As I mentioned, there are a number of beaches in the national park. A very nice sandy beach that’s located between the rocks is Playas Gemelas (number 7 on the map above). There are a lot of iguanas around here that are not exactly shy.
The currents on this beach are only very strong and that’s why I wouldn’t advise to go swimming here. We used this beach mainly to wetten our feet, to rest from the walk and the heat and to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Playa Manuel Antonio (number 6) and Playa Espadilla Sur (number 5) are more suitable beaches for swimming. Here too the currents and waves are quite strong, but it is safer to swim. You can also relax here on the beach under the trees.
You will sometimes encounter raccoons on the beach, so watch your belongings! Before you know it they were taken by a raccoon;)
While walking on the paths you will encounter different animals. We didn’t found a guide necessary because the groups of tourists will point you the animals. Sometimes the park rangers also lend a hand.
We have encountered many sloths (even two baby sloths), several monkeys, many lizards, iguanas, a agouti, a coati, raccoons, a huge grasshopper and several birds. Beautiful butterflies also fly around the trails. Fortunately, the park rangers ensure that the tourists do not get too close to the animals, so that the animals are happy to rest.
Before going to Quepos I found myself in Puerto Viejo. A great laid back village, which is really recommended if you are looking for beautiful beaches and a relaxed vibe.
Hostel in Quepos
In Quepos I stayed in a very nice hostel: The Wide Mouth Frog. From the bus station, walk towards Banco National. Keep walking down the street until you find the hostel on your left. In the hostel they have thought of just about everything a traveling backpacker needs: a kitchen, laundry service, cheap and tasty restaurant, communal seating areas and a swimming pool (!!!). The rooms are clean and the public areas / bathrooms are well maintained.
Budget food: At Cocina (next to the Wide Mouth frog Hostel) you can eat delicious Costa Rican food. You already have Casado (dish with beans, rice, vegetables, plantain and meat / fish) for 2500 columns (€ 3.80). You can also get delicious Gallo Pinto for breakfast for 2000 columns (€ 3). The meals are fine!
How to get to Quepos / Manuel Antonio?
Quepos can be reached by bus in about 3.5 hours from San José. The ride costs 4,500 Colon. Buses to Quepos leave from the Tracopa bus terminal.
If you travel to Quepos from Puerto Viejo, you also have to go via San José. The bus trip from Puerto Viejo to Quepos is about 9 hours in total. First you take the bus from Puerto Viejo directly to San José which costs about 5525 Colon and takes 5 hours. The bus arrives at Atlantico Norte Station. Then take a taxi to the Tracopa bus terminal and continue your journey to Quepos.
After the very nice Quepos we traveled further inland from Costa Rica, to Monteverde where we even went ziplining through the cloudforest reserve!