13 Best Manuel Antonio Day Tours & Activities

Located on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park is the main attraction of the region. Here, rainforest reigns and wildlife abounds. Monkeys, tropical birds, and iguanas can be seen daily. From almost every vantage point, lush rainforest tumbles into picture-perfect inlets and coves that decorate the shoreline. Such natural splendor has earned Manuel Antonio the title of Costa Rica’s most popular national park.

Nearly every pursuit is possible from here, whether it be a coastal excursion or rainforest exploration. Area activities include zipline canopy tours, sea kayaking, rafting, sport fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, rainforest and jungle, hiking and wildlife watching.

Manuel Antonio National Park Hike

Little Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica’s most popular national park. It features three of the most beautiful white sand beaches in Costa Rica, dense rainforest trails, and abundant wildlife. Keep your eyes and ears open as a professional naturalist guide walks you through the park. Manuel Antonio is crawling with animals like Capuchin, Squirrel, and Howler Monkeys. Don’t feed them, and hold on to your snacks! You may also see sloths, coatimundis, agoutis, butterflies, iguanas, and 184 bird species. Wear your bathing suit on the hike, and take a refreshing dip at the end of the tour!

  • Duration: 4 ½ hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, entrance
  • What to Bring: hiking or tennis shoes, camera, swimsuit, towel
  • Tour Type: nature, family, active

Damas Island Estuary Kayak

Manuel-Antonio-Damas-Island-Estauary-Kayaking

The smooth inland waterways of Damas Island Estuary is one of the most unusual ecosystems on the planet, in which wildlife like wrens, swallows, and shore birds thrive. The ecosystem is extremely delicate, thriving only where the fresh waters of tropical rivers meet with salt water. The interlocking roots of the foliage creates a miniature forest that is periodically submerged. Look closely along the shoreline – the banks of the estuary are common resting places for crabs, anteaters, monkeys, and the occasional boa constrictor or crocodile.

  • Minimum Age: 8 years
  • Duration: 3 ½ – 4 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment
  • What to Bring: water bottle, bug repellent, swimsuit, quick-drying t-shirt and shorts/long sleeve shirts if you get cold easily, water-resistant sunscreen, hat or bandana, eyeglasses strap, change of clothes and shoes, towel
  • Tour Type: nature, active

Canopy Safari Zipline & Rappel

13 Best Manuel Antonio Tours & Activities

You’ll start today’s adventure with a drive through the rainforest, with several stops to learn about the flora and fauna of this area. You’ll soon arrive at a ranch house at the base of a mountain, where you’ll enjoy a full Costa Rican breakfast or lunch. On this canopy safari tour, there are 10 cables, 2 rappel lines, and 18 platforms – plus a Tarzan swing! The adrenaline rush is amazing as you zip from platform to platform above the forest canopy. There are also trails to explore, where you can spot toucans, poison dart frogs, Titi monkeys, and countless types of plant life.

  • Minimum Age: 5 years
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, breakfast, lunch or snack (depends on tour time), entrance to butterfly garden and serpentarium.
  • What to Bring: sturdy shoes, light clothing, shorts, camera, change of clothes in rainy season
  • Tour Type: adventure, family, nature

Savegre River Rafting: Class II – III

13 Best Manuel Antonio Tours & Activities

Savegre River

This full-day adventure for the whole family combines both the calm and thrilling rapids of the Savegre River. After a safety briefing, you’ll ride the exciting white water rapids of the “Boca Diablo” and the “washing machine.” Then, you’ll hit the “screaming child” rapid before the river calms down for the remainder of your excursion. After your adventure, you’ll be driven 5 minutes to El Silencio Lodge, where a hot Costa Rican meal will be the perfect finale.

  • Minimum Age: 6 years
  • Duration: 6 ½ hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, lunch
  • What to Bring: water bottle, bug repellent, swimsuit, quick-drying t-shirt and shorts/long sleeve shirts if you get cold easily, water-resistant sunscreen, hat or bandana, eyeglasses strap, change of clothes and shoes, towel
  • Tour Type: family, nature, adventure

Naranjo River Rafting: Class III-IV

13 Best Manuel Antonio Tours & Activities

Naranjo River – El Chorro Section

A half-day of challenging rapids while surrounded by untouched jungle is quite the adrenaline rush!  Experienced guides will help you gear up and provide instruction. On the southern border of the Manuel Antonio National Park, the Naranjo River has rapids such as “El Cesar” and “Robin Hood.” On the second half of this 7-mile whitewater excursion, the river opens up to views of the flatlands, where a variety of bird species and other wildlife live.

  • Minimum Age: 8 years
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, snacks
  • What to Bring: water bottle, bug repellent, swimsuit, quick-drying t-shirt and shorts/long sleeve shirts if you get cold easily, water-resistant sunscreen, hat or bandana, eyeglasses strap, change of clothes and shoes, towel
  • Tour Type: family, adventure, active

Coastal Sea Kayaking

13 Best Manuel Antonio Tours & Activities

This paddling tour of the Manuel Antonio coastline starts at the pier in Quepos. Head towards Playa Biesanz, where you’ll find a vantage point only possible in kayaks. Manuel Antonio’s cliffs and rock formations are breathtaking. Stop midway for snacks on a beach, where you have the chance to either relax or explore. Continue paddling close to the rock formations, and you’ll get an eyeful of the many shore birds that nest nearby. Paddle back to Quepos and then transfer back to your hotel.

  • Minimum Age: 8 years
  • Duration: 3 ½ – 4 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, snack
  • What to Bring: water bottle, bug repellent, swimsuit, quick-drying t-shirt and shorts/long sleeve shirts if you get cold easily, water-resistant sunscreen, hat or bandana, eyeglasses strap, change of clothes and shoes, towel
  • Tour Type: nature, active

Butterfly Botanical Gardens Tour

13 Best Manuel Antonio Tours & Activities

The Butterfly Garden exhibit at Manuel Antonio Nature Park contains a 12-sided multi-level walkway around the perimeter of the atrium. Visitors can see a variety of local species and the plants that host them, plus all four stages of metamorphosis (egg, larvae, chrysalis, and adult). With luck, you’ll get to see a few of the butterflies open their wings for the first time to take flight!

  • Duration: 1 –2 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, entrance
  • What to Bring: camera
  • Tour Type: nature, family

Jungle Night Walk Tour

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Red-Eyed Tree Frog spotted on the Jungle Night Walk

This unique guided adventure is 2 hours to be a part of one of the most fascinating ecosystems in the country – the nocturnal tropical wet forest. Get in contact with many of the nocturnal inhabitants of the Wildlife Refuge, such as the kinkajou, the armadillo, or various snakes! With more than 30 identified snake species, you’ll learn about which are dangerous and about their natural history. You’ll also have the chance to visit the Tropical Aquatic Gardens, which is home to a variety of frog and toad species.

  • Minimum Age: 6 years
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, flashlight, entrance
  • What to Bring: closed toe shoes, light-weight long pants, light-weight jacket
  • Tour Type: nature

Santa Juana Mountain Tour

Manuel-Antonio-Santa-Juana-Mountain-Tour

Santa Juana Mountain Tour Sugar Mill

The magic of nature and the Costa Rican rural heritage are combined on this high-rated adventure. You’ll be guided along the jungle-shrouded slops of the Fila Chonta Mountains to see rushing streams and regional wildlife, as well as take a dip in a waterfall. Try your luck at organic Tilapia fishing or visit a sugar mill powered by two massive oxen. The rustic Santa Juana pueblo will be your picturesque backdrop as you learn about coffee and citrus production and enjoy a typical Campesino-style lunch while observing the panoramic vista of the coastline.

  • Minimum Age: 6 years
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, snacks, lunch
  • What to Bring: extra t-shirt, shorts, bathing suit, hat, sunglasses, closed toe shoes, sandals with straps/water shoes, camera, binoculars
  • Tour Type: active, adventure, nature

Santa Juana Bird Watching

Top-Manuel-Antonio-Tours-Activities

Top-Manuel-Antonio-Tours-Activities

The private nature reserve at Santa Juana is a must for bird-watchers! 150 bird species native to Central and South Pacific Costa Rica can be found within it such as white hawks, gray-necked wood rails,  southern lapwings, purple gallinules, fiery-billed aracaris, swallow-tailed kites, wood storks, and pale-billed woodpeckers. A number of wading species like the Bare-throated Tiger Heron, the Roseate Spoonbill, and the White Ibis live nearby. The primary forest’s populations of White hawk, Red-capped Manaking, and Baird’s Trogon are both fascinating and lovely. At the end of the tour, cool off in a spectacular natural swimming pool.

  • Minimum Age: 6 years
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, entrance
  • What to Bring: hiking shoes, bug repellent, extra t-shirt
  • Tour Type: nature

Villa Vanilla Spice Tour

13-Best-Manuel-Antonio-Tours-and-Activities

The Villa Vanilla Spice Plantation has 125 acres of primary and secondary rainforest and 27 acres of certified organic and biodynamic agricultural production. The spice plantation grows a variety of essential oil plants and spices including ceylon (true) cinnamon, vanilla, and cocoa. Discover the origins of spices and taste their aromatic flavors, and explore the medicinal and essential oil plants on the property. Walk through the plantation, along the Epiphyte and Rock Garden Trail, to the Punta Mira Viewpoint, where you will experience the “Flavors of the World” testing menu. Try vanilla and ceylon cinnamon spice treats, gourmet chocolate, and other spices and seasonal fruits. This is a fantastic foodie adventure with a major focus on sustainable agriculture.

  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, tasting
  • Tour Type: cultural

Morning Catamaran Tour

13 Best Manuel Antonio Tours & Activities

Experience amazing views of Manuel Antonio National Park on a catamaran cruise. This outstanding naturalist tour includes a snorkeling adventure at one of the beautiful locations along the coast. Marine life is abundant, and occasionally humpback whales and dolphins can be seen from the deck. On board, enjoy snacks and drinks while taking in the breathtaking coastline

A sunset coastal catamaran tour is also available.

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Includes: transfers, guide, snack
  • What to Bring: comfortable clothes, towel, sunscreen and camera
  • Tour Type: families, couples

Cerro Nara Mountain Horseback Riding

Top-Manuel-Antonio-Tours-and-Activities

This half day tour is a good choice for those who have small children, want a ride over easier terrain, or have other activities planned for the day. After arriving at the ranch, you will enjoy a full breakfast before starting out on a horseback riding through the tropical rainforest in the Protected Zone of the Cerro Nara. Ride deep into the rainforest to a beautiful waterfall where you can relax and swim in the pristine waters before returning to the ranch for lunch.

  • Duration: 8 hours (available as a half-day tour for 5 ½ hours)
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Includes: transfers, guide, equipment, breakfast, lunch
  • What to Bring: tennis shoes, swimsuit, towel
  • Tour Type: family, nature, cultural
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