Travel from San Jose to Manuel Antonio ...things to do?
My wife and two daughters (ages 19 and 21) will be travelling to Costa Rica for our first visit in early May. We arrive into San Jose and are driving to Manuel Antonio staying at The Parador Resort. What if anything should we see/visit on our drive to Manuel Antonio. ALSO, what should we do for activities while staying in Manuel Antonio such as zip line, water rafting, jungle tours, etc.
Hi Steve, thanks for your inquiry. Manuel Antonio national park will be a blast!
When you eventually make it out of San Jose to Route 34 you will be cruising along Costa Rica's beautiful coastline. Plaza Herradura is a great place to stop if you're looking for some nicer quality restaurants. Eventually you'll be passing Jaco on your right. There is a beach in Jaco, but it's a bit rocky and the town is a little grubby - more well known for it's night life than its tourist attractions. Since you're able to book the same sorts of activities (ie, zip-lining, rafting) in Manuel Antonio, I'd just pass on by Jaco.
Just south of Jaco, though, you'll be passing by the world-famous surfing beach Playa Hermosa. If you're lucky, there could be a good break and you might catch some surfers carving up the waves. This is definitely something fun to watch.
Around 40 mins south of Jaco, you'll pass through the town of Parrita - home to a major African Oil Palm plantation. Another 20 minutes or so and you'll be in Quepos, a relatively small but booming town which is a major hub for Costa Rica sport fishing and its also more-or-less the gateway to Manuel Antonio.
In Quepos you can arrange pretty much any tourist activity you can imagine. I would definitely choose to partake in zip-lining and white-water rafting- both super fun and Costa Rica specialties. In terms of river rafting, you've got the Rio Naranjo just 35 minutes away - and this is Costa Rica's premier white-water river with class IV+ rapids - definitely a blast! For more adrenaline, check out the various ATV tours offered.
If you're looking for a change of pace, horseback riding can be lovely - my female friends all seem to love this activity. Another nice relaxing option are sunset cruises. Sometimes you can see dolphins as we did on our dive-boat every once in a while. Check out this list for more adventure activity ideas. Have fun!
Also, check out this site's page for detailed driving directions.