The Best Activities in Manuel Antonio for a Family Blast

Are you looking for the perfect destination for your next family vacation in Costa Rica? If so, consider adding Manuel Antonio to your bucket list. This coastal gem offers the tranquility of pristine beaches and a front-row seat to a vibrant rainforest ecosystem, all in one.

Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica is a favorite among tourists and locals because of its many family-friendly activities, ensuring an unforgettable experience for all ages. Let’s explore the best activities in Manuel Antonio that promise a family blast.

Manuel Antonio Costa Rica offers the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation for families.

Visit Manuel Antonio National Park

Situated on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, Manuel Antonio National Park is an ideal destination if you’re seeking a mix of nature and relaxation. This national park is only 2.5 hours away from San Jose.

Celebrated for its biodiversity and stunning beaches, this incredible destination promises an authentic experience for travelers looking to connect with the great outdoors.

Let’s talk about the park’s diverse ecosystems first. The Park hosts various ecosystems, fostering a wide range of plant and animal life. While here, explore the rainforests and watch for capuchin monkeys, toucans, and sloths.

Hiking is one of the best things to do here. The park has 10 scenic hiking trails, ranging from 287 meters to 9 kilometers in length. The Sendero principal or main trail, a 2.2-kilometer trail leading from the park’s entrance to Manuel Antonio Beach, and the sloth and mangrove trails are particularly popular.

Although it’s the smallest national park in Costa Rica, it’s big in its diversity. Its commitment to conservation has created a sanctuary for diverse species, with over 100 mammal species and nearly 200 bird species.

Remember that spotting wildlife in lush rainforests can be challenging, especially when elusive creatures like sloths prefer to stay hidden in the treetops.

If you’re pressed for time or want a guaranteed wildlife encounter, a guided tour might be your best bet.

Our Manuel Antonio National Park tour is perfect for an immersive and wildlife-packed experience. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the park’s wildlife and relax on its beautiful beaches after your adventure.

Visiting the park’s beaches is an activity you won’t want to miss out on. Playa Espadilla Sur, Playa Manuel Antonio, and Playa Gemelas are in the park. They’re known for their uncrowded beauty and the chance to witness wildlife in a natural setting. While enjoying the beaches, be careful of the capuchin monkeys, known for being playful and stealing items.

Tip: You can only purchase entrance tickets online.

Manuel Antonio National Park is a Costa Rican gem that's worth visiting.

Catamaran Sailing Cruise

A sunset sailing tour is one of the best things to do in Manuel Antonio. After a long day or week of outdoor activities, there is nothing better than unwinding and relaxing on a catamaran.

A catamaran sailing cruise combines the thrill of sailing with the stunning beauty of the Pacific coast. You’ll witness pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and rugged cliffs.

On a catamaran cruise, you might have the opportunity to spot dolphins, sea turtles, and even whales. However, this is more likely to happen during the whale season, typically in August and September.

What’s more, many catamaran sailing tours include snorkeling stops at carefully selected locations. When you explore the underwater wonders of Manuel Antonio, you might encounter colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and other marine creatures.

You can rest assured that the catamaran will become a floating oasis, with flowing drinks and a relaxed atmosphere on board.

Find My Costa Rica offers you the chance to enjoy the scenic coast, pristine waters, and Manuel Antonio National Park islands with our 3.5 Hour Catamaran Sailing & Snorkeling Tour in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. It includes a cold lunch, juice, and snorkel gear. 

This tour is only available during the dry season, and if you book it from May to November, our sailing adventure is exclusive to mornings. Book a catamaran tour with us today!

Embark on a comfortable and stylish way to enjoy the coastal beauty of Manuel Antonio.

Surf Lessons

Taking surf lessons adds an exhilarating and immersive dimension to your family vacation, combining the thrill of surfing with the natural beauty of this tropical paradise.

Manuel Antonio has a vibrant surf culture and a welcoming community of surfers. Moreover, this destination is home to several accessible beaches that cater to surfers of varying skill levels.

One of the most popular beaches for beginners is Playa Espadilla Norte. It offers a long sandy stretch suitable for surfers of all skill levels, making it an ideal location for families looking to catch their first waves.

While riding the waves, you may spot dolphins, sea turtles, and various seabirds. The best part is that the Pacific waters off the coast of Manuel Antonio maintain warm temperatures throughout the year!

You can easily book surf lessons or inquire about board rentals. Make a convenient and hassle-free addition to your vacation itinerary with Find My Costa Rica.

Our tour takes you to Espadilla Norte to explore one of the best spots for surfing enthusiasts in Costa Rica. You can expect to learn surfing fundamentals, etiquette, safety, wave dynamics, paddling skills, surfboard positioning, maneuvering, proper stand-up, and riding techniques.

You can be sure that this will be a fun-filled experience for your whole family!

Book an enriching and memorable experience for your family!

Mangrove Tour

Taking a mangrove tour during your family vacation is a unique and educational experience that offers a unique perspective on the region’s rich biodiversity.

The Damas Island Mangrove Estuary is home to Central America’s largest mangrove forest ecosystem. There’s also a wide variety of species, including anteaters, snakes, woodpeckers, iguanas, monkeys, kingfishers, herons, and crocodiles. Be prepared to spot monkeys, snakes, sloths, crocodiles, and birds.

You can explore this mangrove by kayaking or by boat. At Find My Costa Rica, we offer our 4-Hour Mangrove Boat and 4-Hour Kayaking Damas Island Estuary Tours in Manuel Antonio. We take you through the natural waterways, allowing you to witness wildlife in their habitat.

Our guides provide valuable insights about the mangrove ecosystem, the behaviors of different species, and the significance of mangroves as crucial habitats.

A mangrove tour is a perfect half-day excursion because it provides a well-rounded family experience without taking up the entire day. You’ll have plenty of time for other activities or simply unwinding on Manuel Antonio’s beaches. 

Take a boat or kayaking tour to learn more about the stunning mangroves.

Zip Lining and Canopy

An interesting fact about Manuel Antonio is that it’s home to the longest twin zip line in Costa Rica: the El Santuario zip line.

Zip-lining through the canopy offers an adrenaline-pumping experience for families seeking an exciting and adventurous activity. Not to mention that soaring through the treetops provides a unique perspective of the rainforest and lets you immerse yourself in its natural beauty.

If you’re wondering if these zip-lining and canopy activities can accommodate your children, the answer is yes! Zip-lining and canopy tours are designed to accommodate participants of different ages and fitness levels.

Try our 5-Hour Canopy & Spider Free Fall Tour to have a scenic view of the heart of Manuel Antonio. Upon arriving at Canopy el Santuario, our experienced guides provide a safety briefing, prioritizing your comfort and security at all times. Count on us to also share insights into the flora and fauna of the rainforest!

Once you’re ready to go, you’ll soar through the treetops, marveling at the beautiful landscape and perhaps spotting monkeys, toucans, and butterflies. This is an activity filled with adrenaline that you should participate in!

Visit Los Campesinos Reserve

Los Campesinos offers a genuine cultural experience of the area. Unlike more crowded tourist destinations, this reserve offers an off-the-beaten-path experience. You can escape the hustle and bustle and hike through scenic hiking trails that wind through the rainforest and offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes.

The reserve is dedicated to sustainable tourism practices, aiming to minimize its environmental impact while contributing positively to the local community.

Birdwatching becomes a great family activity as you spot various bird species, including toucans, parrots, and hummingbirds. You’ll also find stunning waterfalls and natural swimming pools for a refreshing way to cool off after a hike.

You don’t want to miss the fact that Los Campesinos Reserve offers a taste of traditional Costa Rican cuisine. You’ll get to try local dishes, providing a delicious and authentic culinary experience that complements the cultural immersion.

If you’d like to learn more about the reserve, consider our 6-Hour Los Campesinos Reserve Tour. Our guides provide educational insights into the region’s ecology, making it an informative and enjoyable experience for all.

Explore Los Campesinos Reserve and support responsible and eco-friendly tourism.

Enjoy an ATV Adventure

If you want to add an extra layer of excitement to your itinerary, try an ATV adventure! While exploring Manuel Antonio on foot is undoubtedly captivating, an ATV adventure takes the excitement to a new level.

Riding through the lush rainforest on an ATV allows your family to cover more ground, experiencing the diverse landscapes and captivating scenery in a thrilling way.

Our 3.5-hour ATV Adventure allows you to drive through the rainforest of Rio Cañas in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area. In addition to offering an adrenaline-pumping adventure, you’ll also have stunning panoramic rainforest views. This activity includes all safety equipment.

Experience the thrill of off-road exploration at the Rio Cañas or Rainmaker Conservation Park!

Taste the Local Flavors

Costa Rican cuisine is a blend of flavors influenced by the country’s diverse ecosystems and cultural heritage. As such, tasting local dishes is a must.

Trying new food, exploring local markets, trying street food, or enjoying a family dinner at a traditional Costa Rican restaurant can be a bonding experience for your family.

The area offers many tropical fruits, including mangoes, pineapples, and coconuts. This destination is also known for its fresh seafood. You can savor dishes like ceviche, grilled fish, and shrimp prepared with local flavors.

If you want to take your Costa Rican tasting experience to the next level, explore our 6-Hour Local Flavors and Spice Garden Guided Tour. This experience is designed to show you the unique Costa Rican flavors and how to prepare them at home!

Experience a Misty Night Walk

Costa Rica’s rainforest comes alive at night with different nocturnal creatures that are not easily spotted during the day. During your night walk, you can encounter diverse wildlife, including frogs, insects, snakes, and elusive mammals.

Our 3-Hour Jungle Night Guided Walk Tour takes you through this tropical rainforest, allowing you to observe these creatures in their natural habitat, appreciate their unique behaviors, and understand their ecological roles.

This tour is led by expert guides with in-depth knowledge of the local flora and fauna. As you explore the rainforest in the dark, we’ll share valuable insights into the various species’ nocturnal habits and survival strategies.

Discover the secrets of the rainforest after sunset with a night tour.

Swim at the Nayuaca Waterfalls

Situated about an hour south of Manuel Antonio, Nayuaca Waterfalls is a worthwhile addition to your list of activities. As one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica, this is a popular destination for many tourists looking to unwind in an amazing natural setting.

Nauyaca Waterfalls are renowned for their breathtaking beauty. The falls consist of two tiers, with the upper falls plummeting from approximately 45 meters (148 feet) and the lower falls cascading into a large, serene pool. The lower pool beneath the waterfalls invites you to swim in crystal-clear waters, especially on warm Costa Rican days.

Head over to Nauyaca Waterfalls for a perfect spot to relax, unwind, and enjoy the tranquility of the Costa Rican wilderness.

Get ready for the ultimate adventure with our 6-Hour Nauyaca Waterfall Guided Tour. To reach this stunning waterfall, you have two options: a 12-kilometer hike through the mountains, which takes about an hour and thirty minutes round trip, or a complimentary ride in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Come join us for a day of exploration and natural wonders!

Don’t Know What To Do in Manuel Antonio? Find My Costa Rica Can Help!

With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, at Find My Costa Rica, we can help. Our expert team can help you plan an unforgettable family vacation in Costa Rica for a blend of adventure, education, and relaxation.

Contact Find My Costa Rica to discover what Manuel Antonio offers and take a step closer to choosing the perfect spots in this tropical paradise.


1. Is Manuel Antonio National Park suitable for families?

Yes. The park is family-friendly, offering a variety of trails, wildlife, and beautiful beaches. It’s advisable to book early morning guided tours to avoid crowds.

2. How do I purchase tickets for Manuel Antonio National Park?

You can purchase your entrance ticket in advance on the official park website. Buying tickets early is recommended, as there is a daily visitor limit.

3. What wildlife can I expect to see in Manuel Antonio National Park?

You may encounter capuchin, squirrel, and howler monkeys, sloths, iguanas, various bird species, and more.

4. What is the best time to visit Manuel Antonio for a family vacation?

The dry season from December to April is generally considered the best time to visit Manuel Antonio, offering sunny weather and optimal conditions for beach activities, enjoying the National Park, and enjoying outdoor adventures.

5. Are there age restrictions for certain activities in Manuel Antonio?

Yes. Some activities may have age or height restrictions. Check with your tour operator to ensure activities suit all family members.

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