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Manuel Antonio is coastal city in the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Sandwiched between Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park, the small city is flourishing with scenic landscapes, shimmering beaches and amazing wildlife. Its splendid natural beauty and adventurous air have caused it to become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Its neighboring and quite famous attraction, Manuel Antonio National Park, is another reason why many people visit the city. The park is a delightful platform for nature lovers and sport enthusiasts. On the southern end of the park, there is a gate that leads to Quepos, the capital of Aguirre Canton. Similar to Manuel Antonio, Quepos is a laid back town with plenty of spectacular things to offer. Both towns have a good number of hotels, restaurants and accommodations ideal for all sorts of vacationers.
Manuel Antonio is separated from Quepos by a cluster of green hills. Where Manuel Antonio features calm shores, long stretch of
beaches and deluxe restaurants and accommodations, Quepos boasts busy streets, wild nightlife, casinos and many sportfishing charters. Quepos is cheaper than Manuel Antonio and can get a bit sketchy at night, but still it is worth a visit as it has plenty of things to offer. During your trip to either of the cities, Manuel Antonio National Park must be visited. Whoever goes to the park claims that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It was established in 1972 and is under the protection of Central Pacific Conservation Area. The park is blessed with sun kissed beaches such as Espadilla and Escondido, impressive mountains, verdurous rain forests, countless sporty activities and amazing biodiversity.
For accommodations, you will find an array of places to stay suitable to all kinds of budgets. There are luxury beachfront resorts, family friendly hotels, cozy eco lodges, charming bed and breakfasts, hostels for backpackers and vacation rentals for those on a long holiday. Same goes for restaurants and bars. Whether it is a local Tico food you wish to try or have a craving for an international dish, you will find an enormous range of cuisines.
Surf Spots in Manuel Antonio
Quepos and Manuel Antonio are not major surf cities, however they do have a small number of deserted surf spots with nice swells
and consistent waves. Beginners and intermediate surfers will surely enjoy surfing here while professionals might also find some of the breaks challenging enough.
Playa Manuel Antonio
Playa Manuel Antonio boasts a beach break that are suitable for surfers of all levels. For novices, the spot is a great place to start learning while rusty surfers can easily polish their skills here. The waves are smooth, gentle and rather fun to ride. When the swells are large, even advanced surfers will have a fine time. The months between May to November offer best conditions for surfing.
Damas Rivermouth – Boca Damas
Playa Isla Damas is a tiny island found on the northern side of Quepos known for its mangroves, colorful tropical birds and rivermouths. It is about 6 kilometers long and can only be reached through a boat ride. It boasts a rivermouth that delivers fast, powerful, sectioned and hollow waves that peel to the right. The best time to surf is during a mid to low tide with swells coming from west and northwest. The waves are fairly consistent all around the year and ride up to an average length. The spot has often strong currents and rip tides so be careful.
Playa El Ray
Playa El Rey is found south of Manuel Antonio. It is a smaller version of Playa Hermosa with a beach break that peels to left and right and tends to close out during a large swell. The surf spot is secluded with clean water.
Boca Quepos is a totally epic surf spot perfect for professionals and seasoned surfers. Even though the waves are inconsistent, the break is worth a visit whenever you are in the town. It is a rivermouth with fast and hollow waves that peel to the left and ride up to 200 meters. The waves are best ridden when large and solid waves rise from northwestern and southwestern hemispheres at a low tide. The surf break is superb for long boarders and novices. The long shower after a surf session is highly recommended as the water of Boca Quepos is rather polluted.
Surf camps in Manuel Antonio and Quepos
There are not many surf camps and schools in the region. For those of you who wish to learn surfing in these towns can join one of the following schools.
Costa Rica Outward Bound
Outward Bound Costa Rica is an adventure company and a non profit educational organization established in San Jose, Costa Rica. It has several branched all around the world. The school’s major plan is to motivate people to try out and learn new things, discover identity and potential and develop new talents. The school arranged tours too many towns in the country including Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Popular activities are rainforest exploration, surfing, sea kayaking, water boarding, rafting, canopy tours and zip lining.
Manuel Antonio Surf School
Promising a unique and blasting experience to both newcomers and seasoned surfers, Manuel Antonio Surf School is a highly renowned school located in Manuel Antonio National Park. They have been operating the school since 2004 and conduct tours not just in Quepos and Manuel Antonio but also in Jaco, Dominical, Hermosa and Playa El Rey.
Activities in Manuel Antonio and Quepos
There are countless adrenaline rushing activities you can try in Manuel Antonio and Quepos. Although renowned for sportfishing, activities such as zip lining, sea kayaking, horseback riding, mangrove tours, hiking, bird watching and several more are just as popular. Moreover, if you visit Manuel Antonio National Park, you will find a whole new world of fun filled and enchanting recreational activities.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
The crystal clear ocean surrounding the towns are simply superb for snorkeling and scuba diving. The sunlit water is enriched with a multitude of mystical sea creatures, colorful rocks and brilliantly painted coral reef. You will come across a plethora of quaint starfishes, gaint manta rays, dolphins, whales and who knows even some sharks! If you do not know how to snorkel or dive, you can join a PADI associated dive company and they will take care of the rest. Dive into the ocean and experience a spectacular vista that you will surely remember all your life.
Manuel Antonio and Quepos are widely known for their marine biodiversity and there is no surprise that they are regarded as two of the best cities in the country for sportfishing ventures. The months between November and April means the arrival of multifarious fishes in the Pacific Ocean. Species such as Pacific sailfish, roosterfish, snappers, jack, snook, dorado, billfish mahi mahi, yellowfiin tuna and striped marlins are few of the major fishes found in the clear blue waters of the ocean. The towns has a large number of sportfishing charters that offer wonderful fishing expeditions to both seasoned anglers and novices. Most of these companies own their fleet of boats and equipment. Besides arranging trips and cruises, they also offer reasonable priced and customizable packages and accommodation options to their guests.
White Water Rafting
White water rafting allows you to traverse the calm water of the river and lets you enjoy the cool ambiance around you. For those who love adrenaline pumping activities will totally love the thrilling rush that comes only with rafting. Two rivers that flow near Manuel Antonio, the Naranjo and the Savegre, serve as the main base for rafting. Rafting is easy to learn, extremely enjoyable and suitable for children and grown ups alike. You can hire an experienced guide to ensure safety and fun.
For more information on Manuel Antonio, visit:
Manuel Antonio Surf Guide – More info about the surf spots located in and around Manuel Antonio on Costaricasurfing.org.
Manuel Antonio – Learn more about the town and its features on Costaricasurfing.org
Manuel Antonio – Wikitravel article on Mnauel Antonio and its activities