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Manuel Antonio

In central Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio perches above the Pacific Ocean. Just below the Manuel Antonio hilltop - less than a 5-10 minute drive - sit’s the town of Quepos. Manuel Antonio is all about restaurants, hotels, and the all-mighty dollar. Tucked into the jagged hilltops, jutting out and climbing high, hotels, apartments, and even “apartotels” jostle to claim a stake on killer forest-to-ocean views. The magnetism of the sapphire sea under clear blue skies, the creamy shorelines, and the breathing rainforests have long fueled this area’s perennial popularity.

The earliest hotels and restaurants in Manuel Antonio got first dibs on some of the juiciest locations and lookouts. Such advantage paid off for the luxury Mariposa Hotel - the 360 degree views from the highest point in Manuel Antonio has earned the hotel a coveted listing as one of the “1,000 places to see before you die.” Likewise, Barba Roja Restaurante (established 1975) offers patrons the opportunity to preside over divine sunsets (or cloudy tempests) while downing cool cocktails, cerveza (beer), or perusing the international menu.

Down the hill, Quepos provides much more services and shopping, plus some cheaper accommodation options. Below sea-level, it is actually ex-mangrove territory. Preceding the modern day chaos of travel and tourism, the area was called home by the Quepo Indians - hence the town‘s name.

There are no pure-blooded Quepo left anymore: Afflicted by European disease, war, and slavery, they took some pretty hard knocks. Early agricultural enterprises utilized the Quepos port, where bananas were exported. After a time, banana crops were replaced by African palm oil, which proved less bulky to ship and got around the problem they were having with diseased bananas. With the 1960s came better roads and communication. As accessibility to the area improved, travelers began trickling in. The importance of the port declined as tourism grew. Throughout the 1980’s people stopped trickling in and started streaming in. Today tourism and real estate dominate the local economy, spawning a mixed multi-national-community. Many foreigners own holiday homes that they pop in and out of throughout the year, either to work or relax, and there are those who stay here full-time, for better or worse. Quepos is generally thought to have a steady population of about 7,000 permanent residents. Fluctuating with the seasons, Manuel Antonio booms over the busy months of (late) December to June/July, but is sometimes considered dead in between, when the months are wetter.

Other neighborhoods in Central Pacific: Quepos, Hotel Mariposa, Londres, Manuel Antonio National Park and Playa Matapalo.

By Dallas
Bachelor of Health Sciences & Psychology, TEFL Graduate, worked as an adventure tour photographer, travel writer, Voxy blogger, Chamber of Commerce...
03 Oct 2008

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Shopping Summary

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Horseback Riding

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