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Fast Facts

Home > Adventures > Surfing > Special Places > Manuel Antonio

"The little slice of paradise for all interests and pocketbooks."

Less than 100 miles from San José, on the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, are the towns of Quepos and Manuel Antonio. These two completely different but interdependent coastal towns are appealing to the visitor because of their separate and unique charms. Quepos, to the north, is a former banana shipping port and the current sports fishing Mecca of Costa Rica. Manuel Antonio on the other hand is famous for it's national park, beautiful beaches, scenic drive and luxurious accommodations. Forming the best one punch in the country, this area has become a popular destination for both backpackers and jet-setters alike.

Quepos is one of the large coastal communities in Costa Rica with a population of over 7000 permanent residents. The night life in Quepos is lively, especially on the weekends, with five dance clubs, numerous bars and a casino from which to choose. One of the favorite activities for locals and tourists alike is doing t'pub crawl'. Right in downtown, most of the bars and restaurants are with in a three block radius, with the dance clubs either a short walk over the bridge before town or a short cab ride. The dance clubs usually don't get going until after 10:00 p.m. so the people have some time to kill after dinner. A couple of the favorite spots are the Twisted Lemon, Banco Bar and Mar y Blues.

Sports fishing has become extremely popular and the harbor is littered with small private and commercial fishing boats. The catch, shoot (with a camera) and release policy of the local sports fisherman ensures the continued health and population size of the areas giant blue marlin, yellow finned tuna, dorado and world famous sail fish. Quepos appeals to the low cost traveler with plenty of available rooms, most of which can be had for less than $10 a night. The cultural mix of the town is dynamic with residents from all over the world seamlessly blending into the local Tico community.

Manuel Antonio is truly a different, tropical world. This fact is immediately apparent upon turning the last corner out of Quepos and starting up the hill south of town. As you rise up into the forest canopy that straddles both sides of the road, all the sounds and bustle of civilization simply dissolve away. Passing the hotels and resorts, they seemingly melt into the surrounding hillside, the seven kilometer drive down to the park offers one of the most scenic views in the country. To the west, between the hills and trees, is a vista of the deep aquablue sea, dotted with a dozen small islands.

With the establishment of Manuel Antonio National Park in 1972, the people of Costa Rica decided to preserve for future generations one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse areas in the world. Although it is the country's smallest national park, the stunning beauty and diversity of wildlife in its 683 hectares is unequaled. Visiting the park, one is treated to an abundant diversity of wildliife, lush green primary forest and stunning beaches. Cathedral Point, with it's forest topped cliffs was once an island, but it is now connected to the coast by a thin strip of land. This land bridge now forms the spine separating the parks two most popular beaches, Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio. The southern facing beach, Playa Manuel Antonio, is a picturesque half mile long, white sand crescent bisecting deep green foliage to one side and a private, secluded cove to the other. Standing with your feet dug into the sand an watching the wave crash against the rocks on either side of the lagoon, it is easy to believe that you are a thousand miles from anywhere.

Travel to the area is easy and can be done in a number of different ways. Regularly scheduled air service is available through Sansa Airlines, the cost is $30 and the flight takes 20 minute. It is a three and a half hour or more, depending on weather and traffic, drive by car or bus from San José. Direct buses leave Coca Cola bus terminal in San José three times a day and are in large and comfortable Mercedes buses. If you are renting a car it is advisable to rent a 4 x 4 vehicle because certain sections of the road can be difficult. Bus service between Quepo's main terminal and the national park departs every half hour from 5:00 am till 10:00 p.m. and is less than $0,40.

Quepos/Manuel Antonio,
the little slice of paradise for all interests and pocketbooks.


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