I think Manuel Antonio is a better place to go no matter what the season. July usually has a good reputation for having quite a few dry days.
I have visited MA in mid July for the past 3 years and have not found rain to be a problem. All tours and activities are planned for the morning and are completed by early afternoon. When it has rained it usually has started around 2 or 3pm. Sometimes it rains for a brief period of time and at others it rains off and on with a series of showers into the night hours. However, there are periods in between when those showers where it is not raining at all. Also, this is not a daily occurrance. We had as many days with no rain at all as those with pm showers. I liked hanging out on the porch listening to the rain and just relaxing. I prefer MA to Tamarindo because the surf is gentler and safer. However, if you like to surf ,then I guess you would prefer Tamarindo.
It absolutely rains more in MA/central Pacific than in the northern Pacific areas, I don't know why anyone would say otherwise -- are they travel agents? Why do you think it stays so green down in MA?
That said, mid-July is veranillo ("little summer"), and is often the nicest time of the year in both locations.
Be aware that the annual weather patterns have been very strange in CR just like everywhere else.
How cute is that weather meter?
As mentioned, weather patterns are changing, but there is definitely more rain further south (MA vs Tam) which is why it is so beautiful and jungle-y down south.
P.S. there are not rip tides (except I'd imagine, in a big storm, never experienced that) on the main MA beach (in the park). However, the rip tides and currents can be brutal on all other beaches in and near the park... much worse than Tamarindo main beach.
Now, MA is gorgeous, not that much less crowded than Tam, but feels more tropical, and definitely much more lush and green with lots more wildlife. That said, more rain, beaches not so accessible for swimming and surfing for the non-expert swimmer and tanner.
Oops, intended to mention that I stole that weather meter from Travelicious' response to someone about Arenal weather. Thank you.
As for lodging in MA, I found Mano Azul to be a great spot,about half way between Quepos, and the park. Have fun, Jon
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