Hello! My husband and I will be in Costa Rica for 6 days in the first week of August but do not want to drive too much so we are trying to decide one place to go. We are confused wether to go to Manual Antonio or Arenal. We would like to experience beautiful, easy-moderate level hikes, lush vegetation, waterfalls, ziplining, and white water rafting. We are impartial to seeing a volcano or a beach. Which area would give us the best of these things? Thank you!!
That’s a tough decision because both of those destinations have everything that you’re interested in. They do have a different feel, though, so maybe decide based on that. Manuel Antonio is set up along one main road that runs on a hill near the beach, with lots of hotels and restaurants lining the road. La Fortuna/Arenal is more spread out. The downtown has a lot of restaurants, shops, and some accommodations, but a lot of hotels and activities are located well outside the center of town. It’s easier to get around without a rental car in Manuel Antonio than in Arenal as well. We would say that Manuel Antonio has more of a happening feel to it than Arenal, which is a little more rustic/feels like the country.
Hope that helps you decide! You can also read our detailed destination guides if you haven’t already- Manuel Antonio (https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/manuel-antonio-trip-planning/); La Fortuna (https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/la-fortuna-what-to-expect/).