What to See in Quepos & Manuel Antonio

This area is definitely known for its beaches, but there are lots of other great things to see too like butterfly gardens, waterfalls and the famous Manuel Antonio National Park.

Beaches

One of the most important aspects to a Costa Rica vacation are the beaches!

Manuel-Antonio-Sunset

Quepos

There are no real ocean beaches in Quepos. The town is actually waterfront to a very wide river and the river mouth is so close to Quepos that waves can be seen from the shore.

Manuel Antonio

Its been said that the beaches in Manuel Antonio are some of the best Costa Rica has to offer.

  •  Playa Espadilla

This is the beach you'll see in front of the village of Manuel Antonio. It is easily accessible from the neighboring hotels and restaurants.Playa Espadilla You can rent comfy lounge chairs, surfboards, or snorkeling equipment from beachfront vendors. Vendors walk along the beach  selling granizados (snow cones), cold beverages, coconut water and souvenirs. Swim with caution, currents can be strong. Lifeguards are found closer to the town.

Location: right in front of the town of Manuel Antonio

  • Playa Playita

The unwritten nudist beach of Costa Rica, this secluded beach (back towards Quepos) has had nudists frequenting it for over 30 years. This beach is popular within the gay and lesbian community due to its seclusion. The beach access becomes blocked for an hour before and an hour after high tide when the crashing waves prevent passage over the rocks. 

Location: Walk back towards Quepos on Playa Espadilla and after crossing some rocks, this is the next beach. 

  • Playa Biesanz

A local hangout, this beach is mostly crowded on the weekends. Turn off the main road following signs for the Hotel Parador and continue along the gravel road until just before you reach the Parador. Look for parking along the side of the road. A parking attendant is usually around on the weekends to watch out for your car (1000 colones or $2 for the day).

There is a trail going off the right side of the road (as you face the ocean) heading downhill to the beach.  There is great snorkeling here and you can sometimes rent equipment from small stand on the beach. There is also a bus that services this road from Quepos.  

Manuel Antonio National Park's Beaches

There are three main beaches within the park. Each one is bordered by beach almond and palm trees, so there is always plenty Sunset Manuel Antonio of shade and a cool place to rest. 

All of Manuel Antonio's beautiful beaches are recipients of the Ecological Blue Flag award:

  • Playa Espadilla Sur

This white sanded beach is the first one you'll encounter in the park. It will be on your right as you enter and walk along the main trail.
It's the least populated beach due to the strong surf, but perfect for strolling along at low tide. Swimming should be done with caution.

  • Playa Manuel Antonio
This is the most popular beach in the park because of its gentle currents and close proximity to restrooms, picnic tables, fresh water showers and drinking water. There is also plenty of shade so it's easy  to spend the entire day here and not even realize it.

  • Playa Gemelas

An isolated beach reached by hiking the Playa Gemelas trail, which branches off the main gravel road. Its super strong currents and hidden rocks beneath the surface, make this a less than ideal swimming beach. Also, an even more secluded beach is reachable only at low tide if you walk down this beach and cross over a small rock outcropping.

  • Playa Escondido
Blue Morpho Butterfly

The trail to Playa Puerto Escondido is closed.

  • Playa Playitas

Boat only access

Garden, Farms & Museums

  • Fincas Naturales ~ Everyone Loves Butterflies!

Fincas Naturales, a private wildlife refuge has a butterfly & botanical garden, an impressive aquatic garden, a new crocodile lagoon and several self-guided nature trails to explore. It's a perfect way to spend an afternoon! They also offer a jungle night walk - a unique odyssey into the nocturnal world of the tropical rain forest. Contact us for more info.

  • Villa Vanilla - Spices, Flavors and Gardens

All that the good Earth has to offer

Villa Vanilla Spice Plantation is a sustainable organic spice farm located near Quepos. They are certified organic and bio-dynamic and grow a variety of spices and essential Vanilla Orchind - The only edible orchid in the world!oil plants, including vanilla, cocoa, and ceylon (true) cinnamon.

They offer a 'Spice Plantation Tour', which is a half day tour available in the morning or afternoon.  You can experience the sights, tastes, and aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, pepper and other tropical spices, essential oil plants, and a wide variety of tropical ornamental plants. Contact us to spice up your life!
Orchid photo courtesy of Flicker Shared Photos

Parks, Reserves & Refuges

  • Manuel Antonio National Park

This is the second most popular national park in all of Costa Rica (Poas is number one) attracting over 160,000 people every year. This coastal park consists of a variety of habitats including mangrove swamps, primary rain forests and marshy woodlands. Over 100 mammal species includingWhiptail Lizard the highly endangered squirrel monkey, or mono titi, make this park their home. It is very common to see white faced capuchin monkeys, two and three toed sloths, white bats and many lizards. 

  • Damas Island Estuary / Mangrove

An Aquatic Park

Damas Island is famous for its lush mangrove forests. Crocodiles, caimans, white-faced capuchin monkeys, herons and other birds live a good life in its blackwater canals. Reachable only by boat, Damas Island is close to the Quepos and Manuel Antonio area (about fifteen minutes).
Book your half-day tour with us
, including transportation, beverages and a bilingual naturalist guide.

  • Rainmaker Conservation Project

This is a privately owned rainforest reserve located about 30-minutes from Quepos in the mountains. Visitors have the opportunity Frog-in-leafto observe a variety of flora and fauna while here. The reserve offers a river walk and canopy bridge tour, an amphibian and reptile night tour and a morning birdwatching tour. Their hanging bridges have six separate sections spanning a total of 250 meters, built to U.S. engineeering standards. The platforms are attached to enormous hardwood trees. At the end of the walk a pristine waterfall pool will beckon you to enjoy a refreshing dip.
Sign up
for a tour today.

  • RioSPAraiso Biological Reserve

Take a 3-in-1 tour or a 5-in-1 tour at RioSParaiso. Go bird watching, horseback riding, hiking, or on a canopy tour and top it all off with hot mineral springs. 

Waterfalls

Reserve a spot on a waterfall and horseback riding tour today and go for a swim.

  • La Culebra Waterfall

On the Savegre River near Quepos. It is actually a series of waterfalls with a great swimming hole at the bottom.

  • Tocori Waterfall

This waterfall is located on a private ecological reserve south of Quepos. Don't forget your bathing suit so you can swim at the refreshing swimming hole at the base of this tall waterfall. It is usually visited as part of a horseback riding adventure.

  • Nauyaca Waterfall

Yet another waterfall visited as part of a horseback riding tour. The falls cascade 40 meters into a deep pool for swimming.

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