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Manuel Antonio and the Central Pacific Coast Travel Guide

  • Photo: © Alfredohr2000 | Dreamstime.com

Plan Your Manuel Antonio and the Central Pacific Coast Vacation

The Central Pacific region of Costa Rica is a long swath of gorgeous land, encompassing sublime coastline dotted with national parks and palm-lined beaches and inland stretches of ranches, coffee plantations, small villages, and forested mountains. There's a reason this is a popular place to visit: the region has a lot of pura vida to offer.

If you're a first-timer to Costa Rica,

this region is all about Manuel Antonio and the acclaimed national park of the same name. (Manuel Antonio and the Arenal Volcano in the Northern Plains make the classic "get your feet wet" visit to Costa Rica.) For Costa Ricans, the Central Pacific means Jacó, the closest beach town to San José, and an odd mix of burgeoning condo developments and surf shacks. But you need not limit yourself to these two anchors: Playas Hermosa, Herradura, and Bejuco along this stretch of coast offer a little more solitude, although development is slowly creeping up here, too.

The region has become more accessible than ever, thanks to the opening of the spiffy San José–Caldera Highway, more than 30 years on the drawing board but finally completed in 2010.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Adventure sports Snorkel among colorful fish, get muddy on mountain adventures, and zip through treetops near Jacó and Manuel Antonio.
  2. Fishing Deep-sea fishing at Quepos, Jacó, or Herradura gives a chance to hook a sailfish, marlin, wahoo, or yellowfin tuna.
  3. Nature and wildlife Explore the seaside forest and see sloths, iguanas, agoutis, monkeys, and 350 species of birds at Manuel Antonio National Park.
  4. Sunsets Whether you view it from the beach or while sipping hilltop cocktails in Manuel Antonio, this region has some of the country's best venues for watching the sunset.
  5. Surfing This is Costa Rica's surf central. Jacó and Playa Hermosa swarm with surfers, from beginners to pros.

When To Go

When to Go

High Season: December to April

Dry season means high season here. Your payback for braving the crowds is nearly ideal weather. Exp...

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Travel Tips

Manuel Antonio and the Central Pacific Coast Travel Tips

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