Top 5 Things to Do in Costa Rica’s Central Pacific

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.


Costa Rica Central Pacific Image

#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.


Titi Monkey Costa Rica Image
Squirrel Monkey (known locally as the Titi)


#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.


Quepos Costa Rica Sunset


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


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  1. Very cool itinerary. And definitely some must-visit spots on that list. One thing I’d add is Villa Caletas just outside Jaco. It’s a hotel/restaurant/bar perched thousands of feet up a mountain. You can see for miles and get a great view of the Pacific. The food is a bit pricey but you can stop for a drink at sunset.

  2. I’m so happy to hear that your plans are coming together! I’m thinking seriously of making a similar move and making mental lists…question: are you moving furniture? I’m wondering what to expect in the way of hassles and expense to relocate my investment pieces…large and heavy! Good luck to you…I will be following your adventure!

    1. Hi Sue, thanks for your comment. We are planning to put any furniture we want to keep in storage and to rent a furnished house in CR. It’ll be just us and our 10 suitcases! If you have more to bring, you can always ship stuff via a cargo container. More expensive and you have to deal with customs though.
      You might want to take a look at one of the books on moving to CR- we found Choose Costa Rica for Retirement by John Howells very helpful. The ARCR forum also has a lot of more specific (and current) info:
      Hope that helps. Best of luck!

  3. My wife and I discovered your book and website just in time as we are going to be in Costa Rica for the first time from 12/29-1/6. We go to Monteverde for a few days first and then will visit Manuel Antonio. We plan to take a guided tour of the park, the kayak trip to Damas Island and we will definitely make it to Ronny’s Place. Thanks for the many tips.

    1. Glad you found us, Rune! That sounds like a great itinerary for a first visit. Monteverde and Manuel Antonio are very different so you’ll get a good taste of the country. You might even get to see some holiday festivities while you’re here- Ticos take Christmas very seriously and celebrations continue during the week between Christmas and New Years. Enjoy!

  4. Hi we r planning a 2 week trip to Costa Rica. Friends have told us to go to tamarindo yet I don’t see much about it on your website.we would like to make it a home base for a week and make day trips from Tamarindo. Does that make sense?

    1. Hi Lori, Yes Tamarindo is a popular spot to use as a home base and make day trips from there. We have a post about Tamarindo, not sure if you saw it. Other nearby beaches you should check out are Playa Conchal and Playa Avellanas. Since you have two weeks, you could also consider a second destination as well like La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano or something further south on the Nicoya Peninsula like Nosara or Samara. Hope this helps!

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