1. The park
Manuel Antonio National Park is the region’s crown jewel and raison d’etre. The park is one of the most visited national parks in Costa Rica, but that doesn’t mean it gets crowded. Only 600 people are allowed in the park at any given time during the week (800 on weekends), so be sure to get there early or you might be waiting to get in. The park is closed on Mondays.
In addition to the gorgeous white-sand beaches, the park houses 184 species of birds, two- and three-toed sloths, iguanas, and monkeys. Keep an eye on your belongings, as the white-face monkeys have been known to purloin a purse in search of food.
2. The public beach
Even if you never make it into the park, the surrounding public beaches are wonderful places to stroll, take in the sunset, learn how to surf, and enjoy the tropics. This entire region’s tourism infrastructure grew up around the park, and there are lodging options to fit any budget, from hostel-seeking hipsters to someone looking to be ensconced in luxury at El Parador.
3. Adventures galore
There are myriad activities, too. For a little bit of everything, check out Mid World, which offers a wide range of adventure activities amid a 1,000-acre rainforest reserve. Mid World offers zip lines, a Superman line, ATV tours, and more.
If you’re looking to get away form crowds, head to the Paradero Turístico Nahomí, in Quepos. The local municipality is currently working on refurbishing the grounds, as well as renting out kayaks. Check back for up-to-date information.
Still, it’s worth checking out. There is a calm bay that is good for swimming and kayaking, and the views are incredible. And the crowds: there are none. It’s a great spot for a picnic. To get there, head along the road next to the beach in Quepos and continue down the gravel road from Marina Pez Vela. Entrance is free.
There is so much to do in this region that you’d do well simply roaming around and exploring on your own. Let us know what you find!