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What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

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Vienna, Virginia
posts: 265
reviews: 50
What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

HI:

We are reaching Manuel Antonio in Dec after spending 4 days in Arenal and 4 days in Monteverde where we are doing activities such as ziplining, horseback riding, night hikes, and guided hikes. Itinerary posted here: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g291982-i813-k5503… We are two familes with three kids (5, 6 and 8 yrs), and will be renting a car for the entire trip.

What are the kid-friendly things to do in Manuel Antonio? The first day we could do a guided hike in the MA National Park and spend the rest of the day at the beach. We could even spend a second day at the beach, but is there anything else to do? We have ruled out kayaking (tough on kids), snorkeling (not all that great) and a tour to the mangrove (I was told that the kids will ge bored).

I must admit that the reason I looked at Manuel Antonio was because of the beaches. After adventure tours in Arenal and Monteverde, we wanted to spend the last 3-4 days realxing on the beach, and apparently MA beaches are far more beautiful and safer than the Guanacaste beaches so we chose MA. But we are willing to substitute MA with a beach town if it's going to be safe for the kids and has an all-inclusive resort. Since we have a rental car, we can fly out either from San Jose (preferred) or Liberia.

Please advise. Whether MA or another beach town, please also recommend hotels that are on the beach. Tulamar requires a one-week min stay during CHristmas so that's not an option.

Thanks,

D

19 replies to this topic
Grecia, Costa Rica
posts: 916
reviews: 15
1. Re: What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

You pretty much summed up what there is to do in MA, maybe someday, some enterprising soul will create something for kids, (and you will be doing the park...very, very special place) but in reality, the beach experience should keep them happy for a few days. They are still at the sand castle stage, and with the tide coming in and out, there are plenty of opportunities to drown the current action figure. If they seem totally bored, there are a few tour companies in MA/Quepos like Iguana Tours, http://www.iguanatours.com/ on the road to MA, outskirts of Quepos. You might contact them as a back up and see what they currently suggest. I used them several times when I lived in Quepos, and always had good results.

Edited: 11:13 am, June 14, 2012
Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
posts: 4,082
reviews: 93
2. Re: What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

There's some type of little wildlife refuge near Si Como No. We haven't done it, but I've heard they have butterflies, crocs, etc. if you want to check it out. I think the mangrove tour sounds like something kids would enjoy. There's also horseback riding with Finca Valmy that's popular. Honestly the big attractions here are the beach and the national park. As a kid, I could spend several days at the beach and be happy.

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
posts: 4,082
reviews: 93
3. Re: What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

I saw this on Si Como No's website. Maybe this will give you some more ideas. We went sailing and enjoyed it, but you're right the snorkeling wasn't good.

http://www.sicomono.com/tours-activities/

Manuel Antonio
posts: 32
reviews: 19
4. Re: What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

Hi!

The beaches in MA are among Costa Rica's safest and most beautifull beaches, particularly the ones inside the park. I might suggest sailing tours as they include snorkeling, and is great for dolphin watching.

As mentioned above, Si como no owns Fincas Naturales, nice trails, beautiful butterfly garden and great night tours are offered here.

Mangrove boat tours are good for children as it is the closest encounter they would have to monkeys, nevertheless make sure the company you hire are NOT feeding the monkeys. I suggest Iguana tours for this kind of tour, their guides are great and are committed to the conservation.

Manuel Antonio
posts: 32
reviews: 19
5. Re: What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

For Hotels try Ami Eclestone, she manages a unit in Tulemar and I do believe she can do 3-4 day/night arrangements here her e-mail amy_eccleston@hotmail.com

Wichita, Kansas
posts: 64
reviews: 19
6. Re: What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

My kids are 3, 8 and 9 and love doing the catamaran tour with Planet Dolphin. The snorkeling isn't that great but they live the boat ride, the slide on the boat, and the kids enjoy the short snorkeling trip they stop for.

Manuel Antonio
Destination Expert
for Manuel Antonio National Park
posts: 2,125
7. Re: What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

Much depends on your budget regarding hotels, but you can try Si Como No, Arenas del Mar or Los Altos. If you are on a tighter budget maybe Hotel Byblos or Costa Verde would be a good fit. Both have lots of monkeys and easy walk to restaurants. You might also consider renting a home, though I'm not sure they will only do 4 nights. For kid friendly tours, the park with a guide is a must. They the Planet Dolphin snorkel tour is good, also Finca Valmy horseback riding (very well trained for little kids) or your kids can even do the Canopy Safari zipline tour. Lastly, you might try the vacation buggy tour. Great waterfalls and the driver does all the work so you and the kids don't have to do anything. Enjoy!

San Jose, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 39,884
8. Re: What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

Great idea by JillC2...kids loves a nice boat ride..Manuel Antonio is the perfect place for kids and the great park we have there...thanks God is nothing fake...everything is as our Secretary of Tourism slogan...not artifical ingredients...His hand is all over Manuel Antonio...we do not need anything else in Manuel Antonio just you and your kids enjoing the blessings from God ...

roadadvisor

Wichita, Kansas
posts: 64
reviews: 19
9. Re: What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

Also.. We did the Finca Valmy horseback tour when my boys were 6 and 7 and honestly it was way too long and difficult for them. The tour itself was great, nothing dangerous or unsafe, but even I was exhausted and wanted it to be over with. Unless your kids are experienced riders I would do something else, maybe a short ride at the public beach?

Redmond, Washington
posts: 45
reviews: 3
10. Re: What to do in Manuel Antonio with kids?

I would not do any guides ANYWHERE! In MA you can see all the wildlife you want to just by walking back and through the main park trail. They monkeys are everywhere! Note that you will have to stand still to see movement. The guided hikes are only valuable if you want to know more about what you're seeing, without having to look it up before or after. I wouldn't be so persistent about this but the guides charge WAY too much. It's ridiculous.

La Posada is the best place to stay at MA, especially with kids. It's also right next to the beach and park. Super friendly staff! To be honest, I was not a huge fan of MA (but if you've been to Hawaii, it puts all other Pacific beaches to shame... lol). The national Park seemed to be the most fun thing to do. We took La Posada's boogie boards and had a blast! I would also recommend the night hike with Fincas Naturales. Lots of frogs, toads, snakes, spiders, etc. Very very safe (you're on a wide well-made path) and oodles of fun! You'll spend most of your time in the park, though. We didn't go to Carrara National Park (about an hour away) because we didn't have time. Wish we had. Google it! Hehe. :)

Eat at El Wagon (so inexpensive and crazy delicious) and say hi to Cesar. He was the best!! :D He'll also give you lots of free advice as to what to do and tell you about CR. You can tell he loves helping the tourists out. Great guy!

Also... here are some side notes: Monteverde will blow your MIND. It's insanely beautiful. Spend as much time as you can there... you will regret it if you don't. We regretted not hiking the whole thing for sure!!

Get a GPS and rent a phone for $10 before you head out! Getting around is tricky. Make sure you have a laptop, too. I wouldn't do this trip without one. But make sure you keep it in a safe place and NEVER leave stuff in your car unattended...

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