The Arenal area comprises the Arenal Volcano National Park and Lake Arenal, along with the hot springs. The lake provides endless opportunities for activities such as fishing, windsurfing and many more. While the volcano is not active anymore, you can enjoy the sights and spend some lovely time in the nature.
Manuel Antonio national park is one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world. It is the smallest national park in Costa Rica but it offers a lot of things to do . You can enjoy time on the beach, hike in the rain forest or snorkel to see the coral reefs.
Manuel Antonio is located south of Quepos, while Arenal Volcano is located close to La Fortuna, so you are left with choosing the method of transportation between the two cities.
If you don’t fancy driving in Costa Rica, then the next best choice is to choose private shuttle between Arenal and Manuel Antonio. The single fares start at US$40 and depend on the bus company you choose.
Flights from Arenal to Manuel Antonio
La Fortuna Domestic Airport (FON) is the closest airport to the Arenal region. You can get from the Arenal volcano or lake to the airport by taxi.
The closest airport to Manuel Antonio is Quepos Managua Airport (XQP) , locate about 5 km from the city.
Direct flights from Arenal to Quepos are offered by Nature Air. The flight time is 30 min and the single ticket costs from US$70 but sometimes it’s not possible to book the cheapest fare (Locos) and you have to settle for US$91, which is the Promo fare. Return fares start at US$227, as it’s virtually impossible to grab the cheapest fare on both to and from flights.
>>read more about Costa Rica airfare
Buses from Arenal to Manuel Antonio
There are private companies which offer shuttles from hotels in La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio. One of the companies, Interbus offers two departures per day (at 8 a.m. and 2:20 p.m.) and the single fare is US$40.
Costa Rica Shuttle Bus Service also offers such a service, with only one departure a day from Arenal (at 8:30 a.m.) to Manuel Antonio. The single fare is US$44 and the travel time is 6 h.
>>read more about Bus Travel in Costa Rica
Driving from Arenal to Manuel Antonio
Another option is to rent a car and drive between the two national parks. There are three possible routes and the shortest is 232 km. You should be able to cover it in about 4 hours.