Costa Rica’s Central Pacific spans the coastal areas from Puntarenas and Jacó to the north to Manuel Antonio and beyond to the south. Although this region is not substantial in size, it boasts a number of tourist attractions. From misty cloud forest to tropical rainforest and beautiful beaches, the Central Pacific has it all. And due to its easy accessibility from the San José international airport (a short, 2.5 hour drive), it’s an ideal destination for a week-long getaway.
We have many favorite places in the Central Pacific, but the list below provides our all-time top picks.
#5 Dinner at Ronny’s Place
If you’re in Manuel Antonio, don’t miss this hidden gem. Located off the main strip across from Amigos del Río, about a half-mile down a bumpy dirt road, Ronny’s Place is surely not easy to get to, but the trip is well worth it. Because it’s situated high up on a ridge that juts out into the Pacific, Ronny’s Place has stunning ocean views. Be sure to arrive in time for sunset—it is spectacular. Not only are the views great, but the waitstaff is friendly and fun, especially Tico owner Ronny himself. The menu includes typical local food and lots of fresh seafood. For Ronny’s special show after dark, order the bananas flambé for dessert (we don’t want to ruin the surprise; trust us on this one).
#4 Zip-line Tour
Take a break from the beach for a zip-lining adventure in the mountains. There are several reputable tour operators in Jaco, Quepos, and Manuel Antonio through which you can book a tour, or you can book through most hotels. Tours usually include transportation to the mountains, all the equipment you’ll need, and a meal. Prices vary but typically range from $50 to $100. For more information on zip-lining in Costa Rica, check out this post.
#3 Manuel Antonio National Park
This park is one of Costa Rica’s most visited, and for good reason. With beaches, hiking, and all the wildlife for which Costa Rica is famous (sloths, monkeys, and birds, oh my!), Manuel Antonio National Park is a destination that appeals to people seeking relaxation and adventure alike. Be sure to grab a fresh coconut from one of the locals on your way out. There’s nothing like sucking down refreshing coconut water after a long, hot day. To learn more about what the park has to offer, see our separate post.
#2 Uvita’s Whale Tail
Located in the Costa Ballena region in one of Costa Rica’s only marine parks (Marino Ballena National Park), Uvita’s famed whale tail is a sandbar that stretches almost one kilometer into the ocean. This tail-shaped sandbar is formed by the converging currents of two adjacent coves. While its shape has changed over the years due to storms and weather patterns, it always seems to get its characteristic whale-tail shape back. It is a sight to see from the land, but if you’re ever on a small plane, the view from the sky is outstanding.
#1 Sunset in Quepos
Our top activity in the Central Pacific is hanging out on the breakwater in Quepos along with the locals at sunset. Our Costa Rican friend, Roy, first turned us on to this a few years back. We’ve also spent sunset at the restaurant in the Best Western Hotel Kamuk, Restaurante Mira Olas, which has a great third-story outdoor dining area overlooking the bay. You won’t get the same cultural experience at the restaurant as you would on the breakwater, but no matter where you enjoy the view, it is stunning.
Can’t find Ronny’s Place? Don’t know what tour company to use? Just want some general advice on how to have a blast on your trip to Costa Rica? Post a comment below. We’re here to help!
Post by: Jennifer Turnbull-Houde & Matthew Houde