Manuel Antonio on the western shores of Costa Rica is home to the country’s smallest national park. With pristine powdery beaches, lush rain-forests, bustling seaside towns, and abundant nature, it’s one of the most popular beach destinations in Costa Rica. Here are our recommendations on how to get from San José to Manuel Antonio, the perfect place to embrace that pura vida way of life.
Driving from San José to Manuel Antonio
One of the best, and quickest ways to travel to Manuel Antonio from San José is via rental car. You’ll enjoy stunning mountain and coastal scenery along the way and can stop off at coffee plantations or beach if you’re not in a rush. From San José, drive along Route 27 through Alajuela Province following the path of River Tarcoles before transferring to Route 34 outside Coyolar. There is a small toll to pay on the highway which is the equivalent to $5 USD. The entire journey takes around 2.5 hours with the over half of this time winding along the breathtaking Pacific coastline. Take a break for lunch or dinner in Jaco before continuing to Manuel Antonio.
Flying from San José to Manuel Antonio
Although it’s not possible to fly directly to Manuel Antonio, you can catch a flight from San José International Airport to nearby Quepos, around 4 miles away. Flights take around 20 minutes and can cost less than hiring a taxi or private shuttle, plus you get to admire Costa Rica’s diverse and lush landscape from a different perspective. Flying to Quepos from San José is a great option if you only have a day or two in Manuel Antonio or if you are visiting Costa Rica as a destination on a Central American adventure.
Bus from San José to Manuel Antonio
If you’re on a budget, there’s no better way to travel (and get to know the locals) than by bus. It’s possible to catch the bus from Trapoca Bus Station on Calle 5 just off Avenida 18. The journey time takes an hour longer than driving, around 3.5 hours and costs approximately $10 USD. There are several buses per day from 6am until 6.30pm, although be sure to seek out and book your ticket for the direct bus. The collective bus stops to pick up passengers en route and can take up to 2 hours longer to reach your destination.
Shuttle from San José to Manuel Antonio
Shuttle bus services to Manuel Antonio cost around $54 USD per person one-way. Buses depart in the morning and afternoon and have an English-speaking driver/tour guide. Shared shuttles offer a reasonably priced way for solo travelers and couples to reach Manuel Antonio. The buses operate from San José International Airport or you can book online in advance to be collected from your hotel.
Private Shuttle from San José to Manuel Antonio
If you’re arriving into San José International Airport on a late flight or have commitments in the city and need more flexibility with your travel arrangements, travel to Manuel Antonio via private shuttle. It’s possible to book online and ask your driver to collect you from the airport. This option is perfect for larger families and groups traveling together, as you will pay one total price for the transfer, which takes around 4 hours. For a minivan up to 6 people the cost will be around $180 USD one-way.
Taxi from San José to Manuel Antonio
Taxis are easily booked by your hotel reception or can be accessed from the airport, although they can be quite expensive, especially later at night. If you decide to travel by taxi, confirm the price before beginning your journey and check that you are traveling with a reputable company. Ubers are a better option from San José airport and fares are slightly cheaper than those of taxis, plus your driver will either meet you in the arrivals terminal or at your hotel.