If you’re visiting Manuel Antonio during part of your Costa Rica vacation, get ready for fun! Manuel Antonio is best known for its amazing wildlife and there are excellent tours and guides that will let you see monkeys, sloths, and plenty of exotic birds. Other highlights of Manuel Antonio are the stunning coastline and thick rainforest. Adventure tours like whitewater rafting and zip lining will take you through the lush jungle, while water activities like a catamaran cruise or jet ski tour will get you out on the shimmering sea.
When we first moved to Costa Rica more than six years ago, this is where we landed. We absolutely love this area and still live close by. In this post, we’ll share some of our favorite tours and attractions in Manuel Antonio so you can enjoy them too.
Note: Most of the activities below require prior reservations. We are glad to help with this. We have been booking tours in Manuel Antonio for several years now and know all the best operators. Booking through us supports our site and doesn’t cost anything extra. Get in touch at the bottom of this post if you’d like some help.
Manuel Antonio and the adjacent national park are covered in thick jungle. This is the perfect habitat for wildlife like monkeys (three kinds), sloths, anteaters, frogs, toucans, parrots, and more. Here are three ways to see the most.
Manuel Antonio National Park
This is one of Costa Rica’s most popular national parks and it’s no secret why. A short stroll down fairly easy trails will let you see, at the very least, some monkeys, birds, insects, and lots of cool plants. On our last visit, we were looking at monkeys overhead and a small deer snuck up behind us. It was within a few feet!
While you can see a lot on your own, getting a guide will help you see the most. These guides know where some of the harder-to-find wildlife (like sloths) hide and have powerful scopes to zoom in on species that are far from the trail. On our last tour, the guide used his scope to show us a camouflaged frog and even some exotic wasps that were making an intricate hive. Their knowledge of how the ecosystem works is awe inspiring.
For more information about visiting the park, read our post Manuel Antonio National Park: Hiking, Wildlife, and Beautiful Beaches.
Self-guided Tour: $16 adults | $5 children ages 5-11
Guided Group Tour (6-8 people max): $59 adults | $39 children ages 5-11 | Children under 5 are free
Private Guided Tour with only your family/group: $79 adults | $49 children ages 5-11 | Children under 5 are free
Tour Times: 7:00 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8:00 a.m., and 1:00 p.m.
Note: 8:00 a.m. tours are not offered in the high season (late December through end of April) due to park occupancy limits.
Duration: About 4 hours
Includes: Bilingual naturalist guide, entrance fee, round-trip transportation from your hotel or vacation rental in Manuel Antonio/Quepos, water, and a snack.
If you think the jungle is active during the day, you’ll be amazed at what comes out at night. Manuel Antonio is one of the best places to do a night walk because of the wildlife density (lots of critters packed into a smaller space). These tours start around sunset (5:30 p.m.) when the jungle creatures that were sleeping during the day, suddenly wake up. It’s fairly common to see frogs, interesting insects, snakes, spiders like tarantulas, and sometimes elusive animals like kinkajous or anteaters. You’ll probably see some sleeping birds and lizards too.
Group Night Tour (6-8 people max): $49 adults | $35 children ages 5-11 | Children under 5 are free
Private Night Tour: $69 adults | $45 children ages 5-11 | Children under 5 are free
Tour Time: 5:30 p.m.
Duration: About 3 hours
Includes: Bilingual naturalist guide, round-trip transportation from your hotel or vacation rental in Manuel Antonio, flashlight, rubber boots (if needed due to conditions), and a bottle of water.
Mangrove Tour to See Wildlife (Boat or Kayak)
Wetlands are an important habitat for the wildlife around Manuel Antonio. A boat or kayak tour through the nearby Damas Mangroves will give you a different perspective than you’d get on land. These mangroves, just north of Quepos, are home to white-faced monkeys, iguanas, snakes, and many species of wetland birds like kingfishers, herons, Mangrove Hawks, and more. There is even a special kind of racoon that lives here called the crab-eating racoon. For this tour, you can choose to take a small covered boat or kayak through the wetlands on a single or double kayak.
Mangrove Boat or Kayak Tour: $70 per person. No discount for children.
Tour Time: Start time depends on the tide. Let us know your preferred date and we can inquire.
Duration: About 4 hours, door to door from your hotel
Includes: Round-trip transportation from your hotel or vacation rental in Manuel Antonio/Quepos, bilingual naturalist guide, all equipment, and a typical style meal.
Note: There are several tour operators that feed the monkeys to attract them to the boats. Please don’t support these guys. Feeding monkeys changes their natural behavior and the bacteria from humans can make them very sick. The operator we use knows the importance of protecting wildlife. You will still be able to see the monkeys close up anyway, so don’t worry.
Kids Saving the Rainforest Wildlife Center
If you haven’t seen enough wildlife around town or want a closer look, head to Kids Saving the Rainforest. This non-profit rescue and rehabilitation center does a lot to protect wildlife in the area. You’ll see their monkey-rope bridges draped over local roadways as you pass through town. These bridges are essential to keeping many animals from getting hurt by passing cars.
Kids Saving the Rainforest is also the go-to rescue and rehabilitation center in the area for animals that are injured, confiscated, or in need of a permanent home. The group does daily tours at 9:00 a.m. to teach the public about wildlife, see animals up close, and help in the conservation effort. They usually have monkeys, sloths, wild cats, parrots, and much more. The tour is 3 hours long and you can use the pool after to cool off. This is a great one for families and animal lovers.
Wildlife Center Tour: $65 adults | $45 children under 12. Proceeds support the animals.
Tour Time: 9:00 a.m.
Duration: About 3 hours
Includes: Bilingual guide, round-trip transportation from your hotel or vacation rental in Manuel Antonio/Quepos, snack, and use of pool after the tour.
If you’re visiting other areas of the country like La Fortuna or Monteverde, you may check some of these activities off your bucket list there. If not, Manuel Antonio has a great selection of adventure tours to get your thrill on.
There are at least a half-dozen zip-line companies in the Manuel Antonio area. Our favorite takes you deep into the mountains and gives a glimpse of country life. From there, you will gear up, have a safety talk, and do a short hike through the jungle to the starting point. The cables themselves offer exhilarating fun, but experiencing the views through and above the rainforest canopy from a zip line is a truly unique experience.
This was one of the first tours we ever did in Manuel Antonio and we loved it. The guides were really fun and safe, and the experience is much more personalized than through some other companies.
Zip-line Tour: $85 per person. No discount for children.
Tour Times: 7:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., or 1:30 p.m.
Duration: About 5 hours, door to door from your hotel
Includes: Bilingual guides, all necessary equipment, round-trip transportation from your hotel or vacation rental in Manuel Antonio/Quepos, and breakfast or lunch, depending on the tour time.
Minimum Age: 3. Young children will ride tandem with a guide.
For rafting, the nearby Savegre River offers an exhilarating whitewater experience on Class II-III rapids (good for beginners but still fun and bumpy). The scenery is also stunning as you float through sections of primary rainforest and visit a sparkling waterfall for a snack break. These tours are about a half-day long and include a typical-style meal.
Class II-III Whitewater Rafting: $105 per person. No discount for children.
Tour Times: 7:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m.
Duration: About 6 hours, door to door from your hotel
Includes: Bilingual guides, all the professional gear required (U.S. Coast Guard approved), breakfast, fruits, snacks, and full lunch. Round-trip transportation from your hotel or vacation rental in Manuel Antonio/Quepos.
Minimum Age: 6
More intense rafting is also available but varies by time of year and rainfall/flow. Contact us at the end of this post for more info about either option.
Adventure Combo Tour
If you can fit in only one adventure tour with your time, this is a great option. This tour combines zip lining, waterfall rappelling/canyoning (scaling down a waterfall by ropes), a Tarzan swing, and freefall into a river so you get to try a little bit of everything. Best of all, it takes place in a section of remote rainforest that’s so wild, you’ll feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.
Adventure Combo Tour: $139 per person. No discount for children.
Tour Time: 8:30 a.m. or 10:30 a.m.
Duration: About 7 hours, door to door from your hotel
Includes: Bilingual guides, round-trip transportation from your hotel or vacation rental in Manuel Antonio/Quepos, all necessary equipment, a typical-style meal, and snack.
Minimum Age: 6
Manuel Antonio is beautiful from land, but the view of the lush green coastline from the water is outstanding. There are several ways you can get out on the water to enjoy. Here are some of our favorites.
Catamaran Cruise with Snorkeling
You can choose from a few different boats and it all depends on the experience you are looking for. A larger 100-foot catamaran gives somewhat of a party atmosphere with music, an included meal, and plenty of booze if you are so inclined (up to 8 alcoholic drinks). A smaller 50-foot trimaran gives a more personal, low-key experience but still has some cocktails, great food, and music onboard.
Both boats motor down the coast and explore the area around Manuel Antonio National Park. On the way back north, they’ll search for sea life like dolphins, turtles, and even whales (seasonal). The boats then anchor in a calmer cove for snorkeling (equipment included). While Costa Rica isn’t a famous snorkeling destination, it’s still fun to swim off the boat and see some colorful fish. Both also have water slides that are fun for kids and adults alike!
Option 1 – Catamaran Cruise (Large Boat): $85 adults | $55 children ages 6-10.
Tour Times: Morning tour – 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. or Afternoon tour (dry season only – December to end of April) – 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Duration: About 4 hours
Includes: Round-trip transportation from hotels in Manuel Antonio/Quepos, light snacks, lunch or dinner, 8 alcoholic drinks per person, unlimited non-alcoholic drinks, safety equipment, and use of snorkel equipment and water slides.
Option 2 – Catamaran Cruise (Smaller Boat): $95 adults | $85 children ages 3-11
Tour Times: Morning tour – 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or Afternoon tour (dry season only – December to end of April) – 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Duration: About 4 hours
Includes: Round-trip transportation from hotels in Manuel Antonio/Quepos, fresh fruit, lunch or dinner, unlimited cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, safety equipment, and use of snorkel equipment and water slides.
The brand new, state-of-the-art Marina Pez Vela in Quepos (neighboring Manuel Antonio) is arguably the best place to set up your sportfishing excursion in the whole country, and maybe the world. Offshore fishing trips go for species like Sailfish, Marlin, Yellowfin-Tuna, and Mahi Mahi. We regularly hear about dozens of Sailfish being caught on a single trip, and the last time Matt went out they hooked over 20 Mahi-Mahi.
Inshore fishing is great for less expensive half-day trips too. These trips target species like Rooster Fish, which fight like a shark!
Prices for fishing charters are all over the map (from $550 to $2000 per boat). We work with simple, no frills boats, luxury charters, and everything in between. Just let us know what type of experience you are after and we can help you get on the right boat.
Jet Ski Tours
Another fun way to get out on the water is by jet ski. These tours have you bouncing through waves down the coastline and around Manuel Antonio’s rocky islands. Along the way, you might spot marine life like stingrays, flying fish, sea turtles, and even humpback whales (seasonal). The tour we like also has a stop for some snorkeling. If you want to make it extra special, go for the sunset tour, which ends right as the sun drops into the mighty Pacific.
Jet Ski Tour: $160 (double/2 people on jet ski) or $130 (single)
Tour Times: 7:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
Duration: About 2 hours
Includes: Round-trip transportation from your hotel in Manuel Antonio/Quepos, all equipment, guide, life jacket, snorkel equipment, and a tropical fruit snack.
Minimum Age: 4. Minimum Age to Drive Alone: 14
Ocean Stand-up Paddleboard (SUP)
For a more mellow experience out on the water, consider a SUP tour. On this tour, your trusty guide will lead you to scenic coves, away from the crowds in Manuel Antonio. You’ll also stop at a secluded beach for a snack.
Ocean SUP Tour: $65 per person
Tour Times: 9:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m.
Duration: About 3 hours
Includes: Round-trip transportation from your hotel, bilingual guide, all equipment, snacks, and water.
Booking a Tour
If you would like to book a tour, use the Booking Form below or send us an email at bookings(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com. In your email, please include the following information:
(1) Your preferred dates and times
(2) Number of people (adults and children, with ages of children), and
(3) Pickup location if you would like the included transportation.
We’ll make all the arrangements for you (we are a travel agency). The way it will work is once we have all the information we need from you, we’ll contact the tour operator to check availability. Once the operator confirms, we will send you an invoice through PayPal for the amount due. The invoice will contain all the information for the reservation, including number of people, date, time, price, pickup location and time, as well as the contact information of the tour operator and applicable cancellation policy. We cover all PayPal fees so the price is the same as if you booked directly. After you pay the invoice, we send you a confirmation with the details for each tour and reconfirm with the operator a few days before the tour date to make sure everything is all set.
Last Updated: February 4, 2020
What are you most interested in experiencing in Manuel Antonio? Leave a comment below.
Looking for more information to plan your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:
Manuel Antonio Restaurant Guide – Now you know the best things to do in Manuel Antonio, check out our restaurant guide to find the best food.
Packing for Costa Rica: The Essentials – Costa Rica has several microclimates and widely ranging weather. Read our guide for a comprehensive list of what to bring on your trip.
Money Matters – Have questions about currency, exchanging money, or using your credit card? Check out this post.