The Guest response to our ¨Tips for Costa Rica¨was great, so we made some more specifically for Manuel Antonio. We hope you enjoy them as much. With Manuel Antonio you have certainly chosen the best place in the country for your vacation. Statistically, no other locale in Costa Rica is more visited.
Remember, though, Manuel Antonio is NOT a beach town. It is a mountain town near the sea. “Beachfront” homes do not exist here as we think of them in The United States; eco-guidelines prohibit such construction. So, whatever you hear/read, walking to the beach will take a little time from any villa you choose. Shuttles, taxis and rental cars get you there in five minutes, and put you right in the sand. When you arrive, you will find the beaches pristine, and the waters, safe.
Manuel Antonio and Quepos are (almost) synonymous
“Quepos” is the name you will see on your map. Manuel Antonio is the name of The Beach. The 5-mile road between Quepos and The Beach is referred to as “Manuel Antonio”. It is lined with the best establishments, restaurants and homes. Casa Tranquila is located mid-way between Quepos and The Beach (on the mountain) . . . thus providing its stellar views. When you approach The Beach, these factors increase: music volume, heat, safety concerns, crowds. The Tip: Staying “on the beach” may not be what you expect. Casa Tranquila is five minutes away
Drop the Spanish books
While knowing a few phrases in the language of any country you visit is a common courtesy to the locals, Manuel Antonio is a tourist area where almost everyone you come into contact with will know sufficient English to communicate. The Tip: Learn a few Spanish phrases, just to be courteous in a Spanish speaking country.
Bring your camera
You will see plenty of exotic animals (even from the balcony of Casa Tranquila), so bring your camera. Just be sure you take a moment to enjoy them with your eyes (and take a snapshot in your memory) before you make a photo with your machine. The Tip: Don’t miss “the moment” while running for your camera.
Make time for tours
Many folks plan just to spend days at the beach and Casa Tranquila’s pools. But time should be made to enjoy the tours (excursions) that are most famous in Manuel Antonio: The Zip Line, Manuel Antonio National Park, ATV rides to the waterfalls, white water rafting and Amigo’s del Rio’s renown 10 in 1 should not be missed. Tours start early (in order to see more wildlife), and are usually finished early afternoon, so you will have all afternoon to relax at the beach or pool. The Tip: Going on a Tour every day still leaves you R&R time.
Credit cards: accepted
Visa and American Express are preferred in Manuel Antonio. Know that if you pay in cash, many establishments offer a “discount” to avoid paying their fees to the credit card company. The Tip: Notify your credit card company that you will be using your card in Costa Rica, and remember to include the dates.
Stay well on the sea
Many of your most fun tours will involve going on the sea. Sunset sails, snorkeling, fishing, jet skiing. If you tend to get a little sea sick, know that Dramamine pills are all that is available in Manuel Antonio. The Tip: Bring your own “behind the ear” patches if you want to minimize your risk.
Shop before you arrive
Manuel Antonio is not a “shopping destination”. It offers basic “tourist” shopping and not much else. The Tip: You will find no Bloomingdale’s here.
Leave your sweatshirts home
It never gets cold in Manuel Antonio, but it’s never too hot either. The temperature is consistently between 80-90 degrees F. And Casa Tranquila’s breezes always keep you comfortable. If you are staying a night in San Jose, it can get chilly, a sweater is recommended in. The Tip: Don’t waste luggage space with heavy clothes.
No fancy duds
Everything is casual. Very casual. If you “dress up”, you will feel more uncomfortable. . . physically and socially. Shorts, T-shirts, and sandals are the rule. A pair of water/sports shoes is a good idea for your tours. The Tip: Don’t waste more luggage space with Armani.
Consider your safety
Manuel Antonio is a safe place, yet common sense should prevail. Most theft is opportunistic, so that “opportunity” should never be offered. Casa Tranquila’s most common advice is: ”If you would take a certain precaution ‘at home’, you should take the same precaution in Manuel Antonio”. The Tip: Stay alert while enjoying your vacation, as you would anywhere else.
Enjoy public transportation
Fifty percent of Casa Tranquila’s Guests rent a car. It’s a nice convenience, but taxis and buses abound in Manuel Antonio. There is no social stigma to the buses. They are a lot of fun, and you will learn more about Costa Rica on the buses than anywhere else. They run every 30 minutes and cost about 50 cents to go anywhere in Manuel Antonio/Quepos. Taxis are everywhere. The Tip: Live Like a Local: ride the bus at least once (even if you do rent a car).
Don’t sweat the rain
Low season is referred to as Green Season. And it’s not so “rainy”. May through September have sunny days and (may or may not have) evening showers. October and November may bring afternoon showers, but you will still have sunny mornings. Showers usually do not “set in” for long. Many repeat vacationers prefer Green Season since there are few crowds, therefore, more peaceful. The Tip: Pack a little pancho, just in case. (Casa Tranquila has umbrellas).
Enjoy your libations
Drinking is allowed on Manuel Antonio Beach, as long as proper behavior is maintained. The Tip: Drink responsibly, as you would anywhere.
Drive like usual
There are few streetlights or sidewalks in Manuel Antonio, and the pedestrians (and many local pets) share the road. The Main Road is asphalt and easily driven. Side roads are gravel or dirt, and can be a bit steep, so rent a 4WD. There are few parking rules, so it’s best to pay a little to park in a lot. (Restaurants usually have their own). Shuttles move quite slowly up the mountain, so be patient behind them. Your US driver’s license is honored here. The Tip: If you rent a car, drive carefully and patiently. (Yes, on the right).