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rfrank1031 Feb 26th, 2020 06:40 AM

3 Days in Manuel Antonio
Hi. We are a family of 5 (kids 15, 13, 8) and already have our AirBNB booked for 4 nights in Manuel Antonio. We will have 3 full days and nights there to explore. A friend recently told me he wouldn't recommend that and our time would be better spent elsewhere (such as Tamarindo, which I previously ruled out). Since we would lose money on the airbnb at this point if we cancelled altogether I am wondering if you can help us design what 3 full days there might look like? (for reference we will travel on from there and spend 4 nights in the La Fortuna/Arenal area). Thank you!

volcanogirl Feb 26th, 2020 08:15 AM

Manuel Antonio is a great place for families. There's a beautiful beach inside the park and lots of wildlife around, particularly sloths and monkeys. Tamarindo is more for surfing. You can do a guided tour of the park, do the Damas mangrove boat tour, go sailing, have beach time, do the Villa Vanilla spice tour, etc. Lots of good open air restaurants around. Vacation Buggy is really popular too - haven't tried it yet, but it looks like fun.

mlgb Feb 26th, 2020 09:09 AM

Nope, don't cancel. Not sure why he'd send to you Tamarindo.

volcanogirl Feb 26th, 2020 10:05 AM

Manuel Antonio Expeditions is good for tours if you can reach them. I had heard they were no longer in business, but they have recent rave reviews. We loved them.

rfrank1031 Feb 26th, 2020 12:14 PM

His exact quote was "Aside from the monkeys, which I can see anywhere we felt there was nothing to do there. It was nice, we just didn't love it." Which made me ask how we can fill the 3 days and not feel that way.

volcanogirl Feb 26th, 2020 01:18 PM

What did he think you should do in Tamarindo? Is your friend a surfer or stoner? :) Manuel Antonio is probably the most popular spot to go to for families, that or the Arenal/La Fortuna area. Most people do the combo for their first trip. You can also do a croc tour on the Rio Tarcoles. Jose's Crocodile Tour is a good one. You pass the river going between Arenal and MA. We did it as a day trip from MA though.

volcanogirl Feb 26th, 2020 01:27 PM

Tamarindo has a reputation for drugs; almost everyone I know has been offered them when they've gone there. To me, it's more of a party vibe than MA. We've avoided it. Its nickname is Tamagringo.

mlgb Feb 26th, 2020 01:30 PM

Hacienda Baru south of Manuel Antonio has an assortment of guided hikes, self guided trails, as well as a short zip line

Si Como No also had the night tour for frogs.

AlessandraZoe Feb 27th, 2020 09:44 AM

Wow, I can't imagine why your friend said that. We were just in Manual Antonio this past December for the SECOND time. There is enough to do. I am going to refer you to my trip report:
My advice:
1. Go to Manual Antonio Park with a PRIVATE guide. As you can read in the report, Juan Brenes no longer runs Manual Antonio Tours. His brother bought the business and re-named it Jade Tours. I'd request the early morning and ask for Edgar.
2. Do a Damas Mangrove BOAT tour. Jade Tours also does Damas Mangrove tours; however since I let the hotel handle the booking at the last minute, we ended up with
Tucanes Tours.. I'd call them directly and book with Raoul as the leader. He was awesome. BTW, the kayaks sounded more interesting than a boat, and we were talked out of it. Once we were out there, we saw why. Too much wrangling of the party members to enjoy anything.
3. I have mixed feeling on taking a Sunset Cruise. Ours ended up well, but it was not one of our favorite things.
4. Do take advantage of a night nature tour. I have not booked one, but we plan to do it the next time we are in Costa Rica.
5. I also wish we had done a Tarcoles boat tour.

Enjoy. You made the right decision.

volcanogirl Feb 27th, 2020 10:04 AM

I think Paul Gonsalves may have taken over Manuel Antonio Expeditions; he was partners with Juan. There are lots of current reviews for them out there. Paul is wonderful too and even invited us to his home for lunch.

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