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Manuel Antonio, Nature’s Embrace in an Incredible Backpacking Spot

A place sprawling with wildlife, greenery and fantastic beaches. Manuel Antonio is seemingly a paradise that I highly recommend visiting. Unlike most places with beaches like Phuket and Bali, it’s not overrun with tourists and a lot of care is taken to look after these beaches.

How to get to Manuel Antonio?

From Tamarindo, I had to do a bit of research in order to find out how to make it here. If you’re coming in from San José, it’s as simple as a 3 hour bus ride to Quepos which is nearby to Manuel Antonio. However, from Tamarindo, it was a different story, I had to fly to San José as there were no buses from Tamarindo that would take me anywhere near Quepos.

Waiting at the airport with my boarding pass

There is a small domestic airline called Sansa which will take you to San José, the Tamarindo airport is very small, it’s literally an airstrip with a hut. I had to take an Uber to the gate of the airstrip and then I was picked by a guy in his car along with the other passengers and taken across the runway. In order to check me in, I had to be weighed and they gave me a boarding pass which was literally a card that said boarding pass on it.

Flying on a Small Plane

The plane was also the smallest plane I had ever been on with 4 rows and you could literally see the pilot at work. I was also able to just put my bag along with the other bags at the back of the plane. I expected it to be quite scary to be on such a small plane, however it was completely fine, I really enjoyed looking at the Costa Rican scenery out my window.

Once I arrived, I was given an umbrella as I walked to the arrival hall and I took an Uber to get to the bus terminal. I took the last bus to Quepos which was at 7:30PM (yes, really) the bus fare was about £6. Quepos is a small town about a 10 minute drive from Manuel Antonio, I’d describe it as not such a touristy place and very quiet, at night I could hear the sounds of the jungle and there was almost no-one on the streets.

Where did I stay?

I stayed in the Pura Vida Hostel which was located just outside of Quepos, despite seeing some reviews online which made this place seem dubious, I honestly had no problems staying here. It was clean and comfortable and the only downside was that there was no soap in the bathroom.

Exploring Manuel Antonio

First stop of my visit to Manuel was to Espadilla beach which is a big beach just outside of the national park. I took an 10 minute Uber to get here and walked along the beach, it feels like a clean beach and there weren’t too many people there. On the edge of the beach there are loads of palm trees and rock, the entrance to the park is located just outside of this beach.

I recommend buying your ticket online and you have to keep in mind that the park closes at 4:30PM. The entrance is about £12 which isn’t too bad and once you get in, you are free to take the trail through the rainforest, 5 minutes in I saw a few people looking at a highly venomous snake just under the trail.

After about 10 minutes of walking through the rainforest, I arrived at Espadilla South Beach which was a fantastic beach to look at. Not a piece of plastic in sight and the white sand looked almost untouched. A little more walking took me to the beach on the other side called Manuel Antonio beach and this one was quite something. No annoying vendors trying to sell you stuff you don’t want, nice and quiet. It seemed like the perfect beach.

Espadilla Beach
Manuel Antonio Beach

I walked the other way round to get back and I even saw some monkeys around the place. The monkeys were quite small and didn’t seem like they wanted to bother anyone. It took about 10 minutes to make my way around the park and it was incredible to see so many plants and trees and how well-preserved it was.

Is Manuel Antonio Worth it?

With it easy to get to from San José and the price being not to expensive for the national park, it’s a good place to visit if you’re on a budget. Furthermore, Manuel Antonio National Park has incredibly beautiful scenery and two brilliant beaches, this places definitely gets my stamp of approval.

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