Manuel Antonio may be Costa Rica’s best-known tourist destination, but it is also about three and a half hours away by car from the international airport in San Jose. There are several choices for getting from one point to the other, and regardless of what method you prefer, you are sure to enjoy a unique travel experience. There is no doubt that Manuel Antonio is a great vacation spot that offers an impressive variety of activities for people of all ages and inclinations. With careful planning, you can solve many problems and truly enjoy your visit. For the most part, you’ll avoid the crowds if you plan your trip from April through November, rather than during the peak months. If that isn’t possible, at least remember that families and young people from San Jose flock to the beach on weekends.
Since it only involves a 20-minute flight that leaves frequently from the airport, this is the quickest way to reach San Antonio. It is also the favorite method of travel for high-end tourists who plan on staying at the resort’s four-star hotels and visiting its luxurious spas. Some travelers tend to become anxious since the planes are quite small, and the amount of luggage they can store may also be limited. Those who choose this option will land in Quepos, which is serviced by Grupo Taca and Sansa Airlines, and go onto Manuel Antonio by cab from there.
Any visitor who has a strong desire to experience the country’s culture will find that taking the bus is the best choice for them. The fares are very reasonable, and the express bus, which leaves from the Coca Cola terminal, will also get you there in three and a half hours. You won’t need a reservation, the bus leaves three times daily, and you will enjoy the both ride and the scenery.
If you are the adventuresome type and like to set out on your own, you should probably rent a car in San Jose. As a rule, driving in Costa Rica is not a problem, but you will notice at once that the roads aren’t as clearly marked as they are in the United States and other countries. Because the road to Quepos is bumpy and wildlife from the rainforest crosses the road, you will want a car with four-wheel drive. The ride is very picturesque, and you can visit rainforest “lookouts” and small restaurants along the way.
Leaving the airport and getting on to Highway1 can be tricky. Once you do, you will be heading west and exit at the sign that reads “to Alajuela.” First, you will looping back toward the airport, and when the road splits, take the exit for San Ramon, which is on the left. Leave Highway 1 at the Atenas sign, continue until you reach Orotina and exit when you get to the Jaco sign. (There will be no more turns until you arrive in Manuel Antonio.)
By Private Transportation
While this may be the most expensive way to travel in Costa Rica, it will also give you peace of mind because you won’t be concerned about getting directions, damaging the car, road conditions, or break-ins, as you will if you rent a car. While the cars might not be too fancy, this is essentially the equivalent to a limo or chauffeur service.
Because it is shared with others, this means of travel is less expensive than private transportation, and it is also a wise choice. Shuttles pick up on schedule, and individual fares are charged. The only problem with shuttles is that you pay for every seat in the shuttle, even if you don’t have enough people to fill it. Thus, shuttles require large groups of people, which isn’t always easy to do when traveling alone.