Costa Rica's

QUEPOS / MANUEL ANTONIO N.P.

Global Mark : 13.38

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Culture Tradition Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
 3 5 1 1 2 4 4 2 11.00

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
20 100% 95%(19) 95%(19) 12 to 20 15.75


Description : A touristy village, a few km away from famous PN Manuel Antonio

Comment : If you do not fancy expensive hotels, this is the place to be based in. There aren't much to see but it is relaxed and friendly enough

What to do ? Good question for Quepos : what could you possibly do beside shopping, eating fish or drinking at one of the numerous bar (some with live music or sport on TV) ?  Watch sunset maybe... / Around San Antonio, options are wider :  Have fun in the big waves / Scare the crabs / Listen to monkeys / Make photos with iguanas / Relax on the sand / Dream at the sunset / Surf 

What you may not like ? 
-
In Quepos : Seeing nearly more tourists than locals / The dirty beach, also unsuitable for swimming because of the strong current / Some weirdoes (locals or foreigners), drunk quite early / The 23% tax in most restaurants / The bad road and long road from San Jose
- In San Antonio NP : Not even getting a free map with the $6 entrance fee ! / Feeding the mosquitoes too many times / Sweating too much on the jungle trails / Having the beach for yourself only for a very limited time / The over-development of the area / The lack of cheap accommodations in Manuel Antonio area / The rather bad quality-price ratio of the budget hotels in the beach area / Not spotting too many birds

Where to stay ? There is a rather good selection of acceptable & cheap places to stay :

  • Hotel El Parque (7770063), on the main road by the sea side / Sgl w. shower 2000, Dbl 4000 / Acceptable & clean large rooms w. ceiling fan but basic 
  • Hotel Sanchez ((7770491), east from bus station / without shower 2000 p.p. / Clean but overpriced
  • ® Cabinas Dona Alicia (7770419), further east, on the left side of the football field / Dbl w. shower 3000 / Discount for Sgl occupancy (2000 ?) Also without shower cheaper in the future / Go there for the good clean rooms around a small garden and the friendly old couple /  What you may not like : the owners disappear at night and the doors are closed early (no access to fridge)
  • Hotel La Macha (7770216), just after the above / Sgl without shower 2000, Dbl w. shower 4000, Trpl 6000 / Bad Sgl, acceptable Dbl and correct Trpl w. view toward the football field / Cable TV in the entrance
  • ® Hotel Ramus (7770245), one street N from the station / w. shower 2000 p.p. / Cable TV in lobby / Go there for the nice, large and clean rooms / What you may not like : not all the rooms seem to have a window and it could be noisy as next to the road
  • Mar Y Luna (7770394), near the above / Sgl without shower 1800, Dbl w. shower 2500 / Go there for the cheapest Sgl and the friendly atmosphere around a tiny garden / What you may not like : the rooms aren't as nice as the other recommended options and are rather small
  • Hotel El Pueblo (7771003), S of the station / w. shower 2500 p.p. / Go there for the high ceiling clean rooms and the good terrace to spot the town's life. / What you may not like : the rooms are full of beds and could be noisy as by the road or the bus station
  • ® Cabinas Hellen (7770504), on the road, S of the bus station road / w. shower 4000 (1 or 2) or 6000 (3) / Go there for the correct large rooms w. a fridge, in the back of a small garden / What you may not like : it is expensive for one !
  • Hotel Ceciliano (7770192), east of the above / 2000 (1) or 3000 (2), w. shower 3000 (1) or 5000 (2) / Correct rooms, especially upstairs w. a view but still a bit expensive.
  • ® Hotel Quepos (7770274), by the football field / 1500 p.p., w. shower 2000 p.p. / Cable TV in lobby / Go there for the nice & clean room, most with a view (best toward the football field) / What you may not like : getting a room downstairs

Where to eat ? There is a big choice of sodas and restaurants in town. The formers offer honest casados in the C800 bracket. The laters are more expensive but sometimes include live entertainment. I had an honest fish casado at Soda Sanchez (C800) the first night but decided to have a pizza feast the second. I had been attracted by the offer of Pizzeria Blue Moon : eat as much pizza as you can for only C950 (plus tax). Sounded like a good challenge. Unfortunately, the pizzas proved quite tasteless (and too salty) and it took two hours to be served seven pizzas. The last one was simply un-eatable ! While leaving, I raised those issues with the waiter. - "You are the first one to complain (I always love to make history). Do not come back ! Please leave !" I will do even better : I advise you not to go ! Most restaurants unfortunately add a 13% government tax and a 10% service charge. Sodas do not.


Backpacker's Tips : Pathou, France (Sept 04)
« We went to Mary y luna, rooms are pretty small but people are very nice and very friendly. Manuel Antonio is my favorite national Parc, lots of iguanas to see and the beach is the best i have ever seen !» 

Backpacker's Tips : Rodrigo González Mera, Chile (April 03)
« Cabinas Dona Alicia: only with reservation / Cabinas ????: near cabinas Dona Alicia , 7 US$ for person, not clean, small rooms / Hotel Quepos: 7 US$ rooms with bath for person, clean, fan, you get a towel if you ask for them, don't stay near the lobby because it's a little bit noisy / Restaurant: Mira Olas: 1300 colones for a good casado with fish, bread with butter and a coke. It's located at the street in front of the ocean / Chicken Café: 1150 colones for a big hamburger, coke, fried potato / Bus: San José - Quepos: 3 Ľ hrs., 1.640 colones - one ticket, terminal Coca-Cola; Quepos - Manuel Antonio: 180 colones - one ticket, 10 min. / Don't buy anything at the supermarket near the bus station, buy in the supermarket I a street near the ocean / Internet: near the ocean 300 colones for the 30 min. (by a Argentinean owners), good service / Buy the ticket for San José early, it's always full / In the beach Manuel Antonio try to not go at the weekend, because full of tourist and ticos » 


Internet ?
At least three places. Danny's Place (formerly Cocodrile, dannybejarano@hotmail.com) is the cheapest in town at C200 for 10mn, C500 for 30mn or C1000 per hour. Discount for students & volunteers. Digital photos services. Free coffee and travel info. Book a tour with them and get one hour free. Also local (C40 per mn) and international calls. Open 8am to 8pm. 

Tel ? You can call home using internet at Internet Tropical (pirdis@racsa.co.cr), near Mar Y Luna & Hotel Malinche : around C150 per mn. They also have a small book exchange service.

Tours ? There are quite a few options in the area but, as usual, none are cheap : canopy tour ($55), sunset sailing w. possibly dolphin spotting ($69), horse back riding to Los Tucanes waterfall ($40 half day or $60 full day), rafting on class III or IV river ($65 half day, $89 full day), fourtrax adventure ($95per ATV), etc. Start saving !


A day at Manuel Antonio National Park ? I had heard so many praises about this park that I had to visit it. To take a too early bus is useless as the park opens at 7am only. The 6:30 bus is a good choice, although it is crowded with local people going to work : most will get off before the park entrance. The 20mn ride (C80) pass a lot of expensive hotels, some weird restaurants (in a plane or a train) and a few panoramas on the right side. 
The park is quite small, covering only seven square km. Still, it is one of the most visited in the country : avoid during WE in the high season ! It is a fairly easy park to visit and you certainly do not need that bad $1 map. Signs will point you in all the directions anyway. You however need $6 to enter. 
Showing up at the opening will allow you to experience the beautiful beaches without the crowd. Best to head straight for Playa Manuel Antonio (Playa 3) and then cross to Playa Espadilla Sur, both 1800m away from the entrance. Those are among the most beautiful beaches in the country.
There are plenty of wildlife to spot. I personally saw a few mammals, a snake, dozens of white-faced capuchin monkeys, a howler monkey and thousands of crabs. Unfortunately, I met also with quite a few mosquitoes : if you want to walk the trails in the humidity of the morning, take a bath of mosquito repellent every 15mn or so (you will sweat a lot). 
There aren't too many trails and they are rather short (the longest is 1.8km long only). Still, allow at least half a day for the jungle & beaches numerous experiences. 
Sendero Puerto Escondido leads to the wildest beaches, the place where you are most likely to spot monkeys. As it is more remote, visitors reach it a bit later. Just before, another trail leads to a Mirador toward those beaches. Sendero Catararata is best kept for when the beaches becomes too crowded : it is the wildest trail (it involves the crossing of a stream !) and leads within 30mn to a nice little waterfall. 
The two popular beaches are equipped with toilets, showers and potable water. Snacks are also available. Playa Manuel Antonio offers the safest swimming. On other beaches, beware : there are big waves and strong rip tides : best not to venture too far from the shore !
Outside of the park and therefore free to access, Playa Espadilla offers lot of sand , pretty big waves and lots of tourists. It is surrounded by shops and hotels. It is possible to rent surf boards (900 per hour), longer one (3000 for half a day), snorkeling equipment (2500 per day) etc. Buses back to Quepos leave until 10:30pm on weekday and 10pm on Sat & Sunday.

 << Discover lovely beaches


Leaving ? Direct buses to San Jose (C1375, 3.5 hours) at 6, 9:30, 12 & 17. Best to get your ticket a day in advance / Un-direct buses (C1170, 5 hours) at 5, 8, 14 & 16 / Considering the time it takes to cover the 144km, some people prefer to fly : 5 flights daily (15mn) for around $44 one way / To Puntarenas (C725, 3 hours) at 4:30, 10:30 & 15. 

The trip to San Jose : SSS / Left / C1375 / 3 hours
The 6am bus arrived at 6:20. There was no rush as all the seats had been reserved in advance : a bad news for those without a ticket ! Although I had reserved the previous day at 2pm, I was already near the back. And this was very low season... 
The trip went fine and I made very good use of my reclining seat. Waking up at 9am, I was surprised to spot the Airport at Alajuela. It took us another 20mn for the remaining 17km to the capital. 
I did not see much of the scenery but it looked green enough. Sit on the left side to avoid the sun.

See also the trip from Puntarenas