How to get to Manuel Antonio from Tamarindo 

By Public Bus

Getting to Manuel Antonio from Tamarindo by public bus required catching 2 buses. One from Tamarindo to San Jose, then another from San Jose to Manuel Antonio. 

Manuel Antonio National Park (From Tamarindo)

Do you need to pre-purchase bus tickets in Costa Rica?

If you don’t, chances are that the bus driver will still let you on board but you’d then be at risk of not having a seat and find yourself standing up or sitting on makeshift seats made out of buckets. Not pre-purchasing your bus tickets sounds like a really bad idea right? Well, that’s exactly what we did and as a result, had to stand up and sit on them buckets for parts of the journey. 

So yes, we’d definitely recommend buying tickets at least a day before your trip. 

Alfaro bus Tamarindo to San Jose

Getting from Tamarindo to San Jose 

05:30 bus (Alfaro) from Tamarindo to San Jose cost $10 each and took 6.5 hours (standing or sitting on a bucket for this long isn’t ideal, so yeah, buy those tickets before to secure a seat). 

Bus station in San Jose is in a sketchy area so be safe if you’re walking outside of the station. 

Getting from San Jose to Manuel Antonio 

We then walked from Alfaro station to Tracopa station which was around a 25 minute walk. Purchased our 13:15 bus tickets at the station to Manuel Antonio for ₡4,730 each and arrived at our destination following another 4 hour bus ride. 

Tracopa bus stop in Manuel Antonio is at Playa Espadilla (locals may refer to this stop as “Rotunda”). Local Manuel Antonio bus is well connected (more about this later), so we used this bus to get to our hotel in Manuel Antonio. 

By Shuttle 

While in Tamarindo, we asked around to see if any shuttles were available to Manuel Antonio. The “cheapest” we came across cost $65 each. 

Getting around in Manuel Antonio 

We heavily used the local bus to get around. It’s cheap (₡320), frequent (every 30 minutes starting at 05:45 then every hour after 19:00), and well connected. The buses leave from Quepos bus station with the last stop being Playa Espadilla in Manuel Antonio. 

If you’re lazy enough and don’t want to wait at the bus stop unnecessarily, you can also download the MontonCR app to see bus live locations.

Tip: Bus from Espadilla Beach towards Quepos Town tends to get quite full after 17:00. Wait for the bus on the other side of the road (as if going towards Playa Espadilla). Bus goes in a loop so you may avoid the crowded bus stops this way.

What to do in Manuel Antonio 

Espadilla Beach

We visited this beach on multiple occasions during our 4 days in Manuel Antonio. We’d normally rent deckchairs, an umbrella, and a surfboard for $20 for a full day. This is also another great beach for surfing. It can get a little busy in the morning but certainly manageable even for beginners. Check out our other post for beginner surfing in Costa Rica. 

Espadilla beach

Quepos Town

We visited Quepos town from Manuel Antonio using the local bus. Quepos is a small town bustling with shops, tour offices and is where the bus station connecting Quepos to other major cities is located. We didn’t think much of the town but it was worth the quick visit. 

Manuel Antonio National Park 

Tickets to the park were purchased online at $18 each. When purchasing tickets, you are expected to choose a time slot. We chose the 07:00-07:40 slot in order to avoid the crowds and tours. 

If there’s one thing you can do while in Manuel Antonio, we’d recommend visiting Manuel Antonio National Park. Nice organized trails, wildlife, and beautiful beaches. 

The 2 beaches within the park we visited and really enjoyed, were Playa Manuel Antonio and Playa Espadilla Sur. Both really nice, clean beaches. Visibility for snorkeling wasn’t too good though. 

Manuel Antonio National Park

In terms of wildlife, this is what we spotted in the park (without a tour guide):

  • White-tailed deer
  • Two-toed sloths
  • Howler monkeys 
  • Fiery-billed toucan
  • Agouti
  • White-faced monkeys
  • Blue morpho butterflies 
White-faced monkey - Manuel Antonio National Park

Where to eat

Restaurants which offered vegetarian options and we thoroughly enjoyed were:

  • El Avion (beautiful sunset views)
El Avion Manuel Antonio
El Avion Manuel Antonio
  • Buru seaside
  • Falafel bar
  • Baldi’s Fresh

Check out our next stop in Puerto Viejo.

5 thoughts on “Manuel Antonio National Park (From Tamarindo)”

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