Costa Rica: Mal Pais or Manuel Antonio?

Old Jul 12th, 2014, 11:19 AM
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Costa Rica: Mal Pais or Manuel Antonio?

My hubby and I are heading down at the beginning of August and part of our trip we want to spend on the Pacific coast. What are the differences in the 2 areas and which should we choose if we did one or the other?
Thanks for any reco's!
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Old Jul 12th, 2014, 06:59 PM
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Manuel Antonio has lots of good infrastructure, many hotel and restaurant choices, a beautiful beach inside the park and easy access to fairly tame wildlife. Tons of adventure activities and the mangrove tour, spice tour, etc. We got the recommendation for Tulemar Bungalows on this board and we loved it, especially because they have their own beach. Have not been to Mal Pais, but supposed to be a little more arid and good for surfing.
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Old Jul 13th, 2014, 06:13 AM
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Thanks so much volcanogirl!
The more I read, it looks like although MA is beautiful, it's a bit touristy. Did you find this?
Have you been to Uvito? That seems beautiful and maybe less touristy?
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Old Jul 13th, 2014, 06:36 PM
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I think parts of it are touristy; we didn't feel that way at Tulemar - it was beautiful and quiet with tons of wildlife and the nice beach, but if you go into the park, there will definitely be tourists there since that's such a popular activity. Have not been to Uvita, but it gets nice reviews. We've had our eye on Casa Chameleon in Mal Pais but have not made it there yet.
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Old Jul 15th, 2014, 08:57 PM
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Mal Pais is not as developed as Manuel Antonio. MA is a tourist and also working class town where as Mal Pais is predominantly a tourist based area. In August, Mal Pais will be more difficult to reach but a bit more pristine and obviously undeveloped. Both have excellent national parks. If you want off the beaten path, go for Mal Pais. If you need paved roads and a bit of the city feel, go for MA. Mal Pais, a tiny hidden gem is Los Caracoles. Amazing private little beachfront spot, very rustic with local charm and the cook, Jose Luis, is fantastic. 50-ish Costa Rican surfer, years in the area..healthy food and immense knowledge of the area, history and culture.
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Old Jul 18th, 2014, 03:47 AM
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Manuel Antonio is very crowded and if you visit the park, you'll need a guide, otherwise you don't see a lot. Outside the park on the way back to Quepos there is a nice restaurant, El Avion, on the lefthand side, nice place with terrace and nice sunset in the evening, great food.
Malpais there is not a lot to see, but we've spend some time in Casa Chameleon, really nice, you have to book the villa Esterella, breakfast is not OK but you can drive down the hill up to the small village Santa Teresa, nice beach and some beach bars...there's a bakery and some restaurants. The road to Casa Chameleon is very bad, so you need a 4WD to get up the hill, the view up there is lovely and it's quite. In Malpais you can go to Montezuma, but it's more a hippie village, nice for a drink, not for accommodation. You can visit the waterfalls up there, really nice, you have to climb some rocks but after 10' you can have a swim in the lovely waterfall.....it's for free
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Old Jul 18th, 2014, 09:25 AM
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alkaro, I'm surprised you say you wouldn't see a lot without a guide; we've been twice and both times saw monkeys everywhere, iguanas, raccoons - I think a guide can help see smaller things, but you can still see a lot on your own, at least we did. What kinds of things do you like to do in Mal Pais? How long would it take to go to Montezuma from Mal Pais?
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Old Jul 19th, 2014, 08:28 PM
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Yes, that's absolutely true volcanogirl. You have to practically beat the monkeys off with a stick. I also saw racoons on the beach, iguanas are everywhere. Even saw an agouti on one of the trails. The sloths can be difficult to spot if you don't know what to look for (they look a bit like a giant termite nest). But chances are there will be guides everywhere and they will be pointing to things. Probably to a sloth.
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Old Jul 20th, 2014, 11:17 PM
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No guide needed for the national park
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Old Jul 22nd, 2014, 03:56 PM
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Thanks for the great descriptions and recommendations! At this point we were thinking of stopping in Manuel Antonio for a night or 2 on our way down to Uvita and staying in Uvita for 3 nights. From what I have read it's a little more off the beaten track and wild (wilderness) than MA. However,we're not sure if that's a good move during rainy season if anyone has any personal experience??
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Old Aug 13th, 2014, 01:03 AM
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You should choose Manuel Antonio cause it has a huge variety of wild animals and the most beautiful beaches available in costa rica.http://explorecostaricaonyourown.blo...onal-park.html
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Old Aug 25th, 2014, 05:55 PM
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Thank you DerDaniel, I did choose Manuel Antonio and I loved it!
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