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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Julia

One Day In Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Itinerary to Transform and Travel

Updated: Feb 27, 2021

If you haven't put Manuel Antonio on your list yet, it is time to right now, my friend!

Who doesn't love a chance to experience some of the world's most iconic beautiful beaches,

animal wildlife, and adventures like surfing in Costa Rica?

That's one of the reasons why I decided to spend not just One Day in Manuel Antonio or in Costa Rica, but about three months! I am spending about two weeks in and near Manuel Antonio itself.

If you don't know where to start with your time in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, I am here to help you #createit! Traveling helps you transform in more ways than one when you travel to Costa Rica.

No matter what your Costa Rica adventure in Manuel Antonio is, you will love it!

While there is plenty to experience one day in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica to transform and travel whether you come solo, with family, or with a group, you will definitely want to consider staying longer.

Follow this One Day in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Itinerary to Transform and Travel. It will help you make your travels transformational even it's a short trip. These are my recommendations for the top experiences for your one day in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.

Pura Vida!

My Experiences With Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

This is my first time in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Thanks to Costa Rica and Mountain Paradise via Airbnb, it may not be my last!

This is my second time to Costa Rica since 2016 when I hosted our transformation and travel retreat in Costa Rica in Playa Del Coco. I love the Pura Vida!

Although I am staying in Costa Rica for close to three months, I love to create adventure days to share for myself and others whether you are somewhere short or long-term and want to create adventure days too. That's why I created One Day Travel guides.

Costa Rica Retreat in 2016 near Liberia in Playa Del Coco

Travel fills me up. New people, adventures, and experiences are something I love. My story includes being conceived in Bulgaria, born in Poland, and in 4 countries by the time I was 2 (including a refugee camp in Italy.)

My travels in Costa Rica include a focus on nature, adventure and healthy travel experiences. If you didn't know, I lost over 55+ lbs 5+ years ago and have kept it off. In addition, I haven't drunk alcohol for over 5 years now. I feel healthier than High School. Disclaimer: Average person who uses Herbalife Global Nutrition loses 0.5 to 1lb a week with healthy active lifestyle.

For my third long term stay in Costa Rica in or near Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, I ended up staying at Mountain Paradise via Airbnb, which is about 25 minutes from Manuel Antonio, and about 15 minutes from Playa Matapalo.

Mountain Paradise is an incredible Tiny House experience 900+ feet above sea level near Rio Portalon, Playa Matapalo and Manuel Antonio.

All shots are my own on Canon EOSM100, Sony A330, and/or my iPhone 12 Mini.

Fun Facts About Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica for residents and tourists alike. It's incredibly beautiful with lush landscapes, breathtaking beaches, limitless wildlife. Let's not forget about the amazing adventures one may have in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica has no shortage of national parks. According to Go Visit Costa Rica, Costa Rica has 28 national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas/mangroves, 11 forest reserves and 8 biological reserves, as well as countless conservation regions that protect the diverse natural habitats found throughout the country.

Although Manuel Antonio National Park is the smallest of any Costa Rican national park, it is a favorite among locals and tourists. With the ability to experience an abundance of wildlife and pristine beaches, it is easy to understand why!

I love visiting Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. It's interesting to arrive in Quepos, a fishing village nearby and go up via the main road to the other side to Manuel Antonio. The majority of the businesses are along the road in between. if you love peace and quiet, you may love to stay somewhere with some distance from the road and/or a bit further away like I did.

The public beaches within Manuel Antonio like Espadilla are beautiful. At the same time, the beaches inside Manuel Antonio National Park are incredible. Due to the proximity of everything in Manuel Antonio, it is easy to navigate and experience the must see's and do's in a day.

Manuel Antonio

One Day in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Let's explore the experiences I recommend for one day in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Depending on when you arrive in the city, and where you stay, feel free to modify your experiences!

I'm sharing here a full 24 hours for your one day in Manuel Antonio from morning to night! I've already shared La Fortuna, Monteverde, and have Escazu and San Jose coming up! I'm giving you many reasons you will want to stay longer in Costa Rica!

Even when I travel, I stay healthy, bring Herbalife Nutrition and workout daily in different ways.

When I visited Manuel Antonio, I brought Herbalife Beverage Mix and my Sunscreen along. #beachessentials

Espadilla Beach

Espadilla Beach is a great beach to start your day in Manuel Antonio. Perhaps, you make it for sunrise or a surfing experience in Costa Rica like I did when you visit! The beach is easy to get to whether you are driving, or take the bus from nearby Quepos. It is quiet and peaceful, and located about 10 minutes walking distance to Manuel Antonio National Park.


Baldi's Fresh

After you spend a couple of hours at Espadilla Beach, you may walk about 5-10 minutes to the right of the beach to Baldi's Fresh for breakfast. After surfing, my Herbalife Cinnamon shake quickly evaporated in my body. As a result, I stopped for a Beach Day smoothie before my next adventure in Costa Rica.

Beach Day Smoothie at Baldi's Fresh

As you continue walking straight along the street, you will see souvenirs options everywhere. Whether you are looking for coffee, wooden, and/or clothing souvenirs, you will find everything you want and need for family and friends!


Manuel Antonio National Park

After you keep walking about 5-10 minutes, you will see a path leading to the entrance of Manuel Antonio National Park. While Manuel Antonio National Park is the smallest of Costa Rican National Parks, it is one of the most visited because of the size, wildlife, and pristine beaches in the park.

It is easy to spend a half or full day at the park. My first time visiting I went for about five hours, and saw 10+ monkeys, 10+ iguanas, and a sloth! I spent about 2-3 hours at Playa Espadilla Sur, Manuel Antonio Beach, and Playa Gemales. I could have spent hours more easily!

Before leaving the park, I knew I would be back to visit for a full day before leaving the Manuel Antonio area! My second time visiting, I arrived at the park at 7:30 am. and stayed until 3pm. This time, I visited the views, enjoyed the wildlife, and experienced more time at the beach!

Pura Vida!

Manuel Antonio Beach

Manuel Antonio Beach

Playa Gemelas

Manuel Antonio Beach

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

Emilio's Cafe

There are numerous options for incredible food in Manuel Antonio and breathtaking views. I chose Emilio's Cafe for the views, reviews, and Caribbean Ceviche on the menu! It did not disappoint!

After leaving Manuel Antonio National Park, you may easily catch a collectivo taxi (same price as bus) and/or take the bus up the hill to Emilio's Cafe! This is a great place to enjoy the sunset too!

After my visit to Emilio's, I headed into Quepos to pickup my Herbalife Nutrition package, and go to MaxiPali for grocery shopping before heading back to my Mountain Paradise!

Reasons to Stay in & near Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Longer

Depending on what is important to you, you may follow the itinerary or you may decide to add on adventures or other options in the area.

There are countless ways to enjoy your time in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica from beach bum to adventure days! Adventures in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica may entice you to stay more than a day, not to mention exploring the rest of Costa Rica!

Playa Matapalo

Within less than half of an hour of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica you may visit Playa Matapalo.

The quiet black sand beach may end another unique experience in Costa Rica.

Whether you visit for a half to a full day trip to Playa Matapalo enjoying the black sand beaches and/or decide to add the experience of riding off into the sunset on horseback, you will love it!

Playa Matapalo, Costa Rica

Riding into the Sunset Playa Matapalo, Costa Rica

Nauyaca Waterfalls

For my fellow waterfall lovers, why stop chasing waterfalls with Rio Celeste Waterfall? Continue chasing waterfalls with Nauyaca Waterfalls in Dominical as well! The waterfalls are within 30 minutes of Rio Portalon close to my Mountain Paradise Airbnb in Costa Rica, and within less than an hour of Quepos/Manuel Antonio area as well!

You have another reason to stay in and near Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica longer!!

Nauyaca Waterfalls

Nauyaca Waterfalls

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Travels

As you may clearly see, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica has limitless options for One Day and more!

Whether you want to be lost in wonder with wildlife, bum the day away at pristine beaches, or experience adventures in Manuel Antonio, you will love it!

Have you visited Manuel Antonio before?

Is it on your bucket list?

What are some of your favorite experiences?

If you haven't, what activity here interests you the most to do in One Day in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica? I discovered I didn't delete my video footage after all! Either way, I. am going to the National Park again tomorrow!

Pura Vida!

Are you curious about Costa Rica and the Pura Vida?

I've got One Day and Top 10 Things to Do in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica coming up!

Not to mention our Inspiring Travel Now & in the Future Project &

Costa Rica Retreat coming in August 2021!


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