Manuel Antonio is an small oceanside village with plenty of great places to stay - from extravagant luxury condos to cozy hideaway hotels tucked into nature. Famous for its national park, this tiny yet bustling town is located off Costa Rica's central Pacific coast just a stone's throw away from Quepos which is famous for sportfishing. The region is a treasure for biodiversity, attracting nature buffs, eco-travelers and adventure-seekers alike. Better yet, if you visit, you can soak up white sand and perfect waters. Without a doubt, Manuel Antonio lies within one of the country's most celebrated spots.
There is no shortage of top-tier places to rest your head in Manuel Antonio. Standing on the highest point in the region, La Mariposa Hotel features panoramic vistas overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Manuel Antonio National Park. It has an open-air restaurant and cozy accommodations. Enjoy an in-room Jacuzzi and 24-carat gold faucets at La Mansion Inn, a small boutique hotel. The Gaia Hotel was featured on CNN as a top worldwide destination for eco-tourism, as the luxury resort utilizes 100 percent solar heating of the water and 5-star amenities. If you're looking for a more private getaway for the family, Villa Grande offers ocean views from a stunning and modern rentable home. It has five bedrooms, with a swimming pool, social room and full kitchen. Besides these living accommodations, there is a handful of other amazing places to stay with minutes-away access to Manuel Antonio National Park.
Situated near the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park, Playa Espadilla is a public beach perfect for a laid-back family day. Take a dip in the refreshing water, play soccer on the sand or just hang out and listen to the sound of waves crashing against the shoreline. There are some lifeguards on hand to get out of trouble, but you still need to be wary of the rip currents.
As the name suggests (-ita means small), this is a little, relaxing beach that sits on the north end at the far end of Playa Espadilla. It is one of the country's famous gay beaches, with big draws especially for young men. For many years La Playita was a nude beach, but the region's surging hotel industry has ended that. Make sure to time your walk around one hour before and after high tide, since the beach is inaccessible then. Wear sandals too - you'll have to head over a rocky headland to get there. It is also notable that this beach can get good surf during the right swell and tide.
Though one of the smallest park in the country, Manuel Antonio National Park is the most popular - and rightfully so. Manuel Antonio is often considered among the most biodiverse parks in the world. Spanning several natural habits, this gem boasts more than 109 different species of mammals and 184 species of birds. You can spot the white-faced and howler monkeys, two-toed sloths and the endangered squirrel monkey. Its four beaches cater to snorkeling, swimming and sun bathing. For hikers, there are plenty of well marked trails to explore all the flora and fauna. Manuel Antonio National Park is open Tuesday through Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.