San Jose to Manuel Antonio

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How to get from San Jose to Manuel Antonio?

Manuel Antonio is a popular national park and beach town in Costa Rica’s Puntarenas Province. Its diverse rainforest is home to a great variety of flora and fauna, particularly the white-faced capuchin monkeys and three-toed sloth.

But that’s not it. Manuel Antonio’s main draw is actually its beaches – white sand, turquoise waters – the perfect ending after an easy hike through its jungle.

Playa Manuel Antonio is the most beautiful, but can also be the most crowded. The national park is closed on Mondays so make sure to schedule your visit accordingly!

New to Manuel Antonio? Check out this compact Manuel Antonio guide to show you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Manuel Antonio!

4 ways to get from San Jose to Manuel Antonio (Sorted on popularity)

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Minivan2.5-4.5 hours26,500 CRC ($42)Check Minivan Tickets
Private Transfer2.5-3 hours97,000 CRC ($154)Book a Private Transfer
Bus3.5-6 hours5,550 CRC ($9)No Online Tickets
Flight1.5 hours59,535 CRC ($97)Check Flights

There are 4 options when travelling the 170km journey from San Jose to Manuel Antonio: a 2.5-4.5 hour shared or private minivan, a 4-6 hour bus or a 1.5-hour flight (including transfers).

The minivan is by far the most comfortable way to travel from San Jose to Manuel Antonio. Expect an air-conditioned ride that picks you up from your hotel in San Jose (or directly at the Airport) and drops you off at your hotel in Manuel Antonio. The journey lasts between 2.5-4 hours and tickets start from 26,500 CRC ($42).

Travelling with a group? Private transfers are available for groups of 4 to 18 persons. Rates start from 97,000 CRC ($154) for a 4-seater car.

The bus is a popular option with locals as bus tickets are only 5,550 CRC ($9). However, buses are not always as safe as there have been reports of luggage being stolen. Travel time by bus is around 4-6 hours.

You can also take a 30-minute flight from San Jose to Quepos. Although this might look quicker than a van at first sight, we don’t think it is. When you include the time to get from/to the airport and account for the check in time, the journey will easily take over 3 hours. This while a door-to-door minivan can cross the same distance in only 2.5 hours.

Itinerary from San Jose to Manuel Antonio

minivan icon

San Jose to Manuel Antonio by Minivan

Duration: 2.5-4.5 hours
Cost: 26,500 CRC ($42)

There are several companies offering minivan rides from San Jose to Manuel Antonio. The most popular are: Paradise Shuttle, Interbus, and Desafio Adventure Company.

All companies provide a comfy air-conditioned van and include free hotel pick-up and drop-off. This way you will also save on the possible taxi rides which you would need to take when travelling by bus.

Ticket prices from San Jose to Manuel Antonio start from 26,400 CRC ($42) with the minibus from RiderCR. If you prefer to get to Manual Antonio quicker, we recommend to book with Paradise Shuttle, which is the most popular van company for this route.

Pick up and drop-off

The journey from San Jose to Manuel Antonio only lasts a bit over 2.5 hours and it’s either possible to be picked up at your hotel in San Jose or directly from San Jose Airport.

If you book with Paradise Shuttle with pick up from the Airport, your driver will be waiting for you in the arrival hall, holding a sign with your name on it.

We listed the recommended options below:

Minivan OperatorScheduleDurationCosts
4.5 hours26,500 CRC ($42)
Paradise Shuttle07:00-9:50
2hr 50m34,500 CRC ($55)
Paradise Shuttle (from San Jose Airport)07:30-10:10
2hr 40m34,500 CRC ($55)
Interbus07:00-10:003 hours41,500 CRC ($66)

Minivan tickets sell out fast so it’s best to book your tickets online beforehand.

Book Minivan Tickets with BookAway


San Jose to Manuel Antonio by Private Transfer

Duration: 2.5-3 hours
Cost: from 97,000 CRC ($154)

Rates for a private transfer from San Jose to Manuel Antonio depend on how luxurious you want your ride to be.

You can already hire your private 4 person taxi for 97,000 CRC ($154). Concluding, if you are travelling with 3 people or more, a private drive can already be cheaper than a shared mini-van.

Travelling with a larger group? You can also book a 6-seater for only 111.000 CRC ($177) or vans that fit up to 10 or even 18 people with the link below.

Book a Private Minivan/Taxi with BookAway

Bus icon

San Jose to Manuel Antonio by Bus

Duration: 3.5-6 hours
Cost: 5,550 CRC ($9)

An option that is popular with locals is to take the bus from Tracopa Bus Terminal in San Jose.

Although technically, buses go only up to Quepos, you can also travel the journey from San Jose to Manuel Antonio by Bus.

Tracopa is the sole operator of buses from San Jose to Quepos, which is the main town beside Manuel Antonio (more on this later). They have several departures throughout the day and you can buy your ticket at the terminal for around 5,500 CRC ($9).

PRO-tip: Do be careful with your luggage! If you’re going to put them in the luggage compartment, make sure they’re already inside before you board the bus. And don’t forget to get your luggage ticket from the driver! As for smaller bags with your valuables, it’s safer to put them in front of you (between your legs) instead of the overhead bin.

Travel time

The official bus schedule says the journey can be done in 3.5 hours, but in reality, it can take up to 6 hours.

To help you find the faster bus: There are 2 types of buses leaving from this bus terminal: direct (directo) and collective (collectivo).

The direct bus from San Jose to Manuel Antonio is normally faster than the collective which makes more stops than the bus along the way.

We recommend arriving at the bus station around 30 minutes before your preferred bus departure to secure a seat. Below are their schedules.

Bus OperatorScheduleDurationCosts
3.5-6 hours5,520 CRC ($9)

Getting from Quepos to Manuel Antonio

Some buses may only take you up to Quepos Bus Terminal, located 4km north of Manuel Antonio city centre. There are already quite a lot of accommodations in Quepos, but if your hotel is located nearer the national park, then you can take either a 25-minute bus or a 15-minute taxi.

Buses are available every 30 minutes from 05:45 to 19:00 and then every hour onwards. You can get a bus ticket for 350 CRC ($0.60).

Meantime, taxi rates start from 3,680 CRC ($6).


San Jose to Manuel Antonio by Flight

Duration: 1 hours 15 minutes
Cost: 80,000 CRC ($130)

There are no direct flights from San Jose to Manuel Antonio.

If you want to travel by plane, you’ll have to take a flight to Quepos, a town located just beside Manuel Antonio.

The flight from San Jose to Quepos takes only 30 minutes, but including the journey from/to the airport, it will take close 1.5 hours. And then we didn’t account for the check-in time yet.

All together we think it’s a lot easier to book a direct van which transfers you door to door.

In case you don’t mind the extra transfers to/from the airport, here is how to travel by plane from San Jose to Manuel Antonio:

Step 1: San Jose City Centre to San Jose Airport by Bus

Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: 15,000 CRC ($25)

From San Jose City Centre, you can get to the airport via a 40-minute bus or a 30-minute taxi.

You can take a taxi with rates from 15,000 CRC ($25). You can hail them from the street or via the ride-hailing app Uber.

PRO-Tip: Uber is still not 100% accepted in Costa Rica. Many tourists have had great experience using it, but there have been a few cases of Uber rides being stopped in the middle of the journey. We recommend asking advice from your hotel on whether it’s safe to use it before booking a ride.

As an alternative, taking the bus is very cheap, only 675 CRC ($1.10) per ticket. They’re available at TUASA Terminal from 04:00 to 23:00 with a 10-minute interval. You can choose from 2 bus companies: TUASA (coloured red and white) and Station Wagon (coloured orange and yellow).

Step 2: San Jose to Quepos by Flight

Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: 56,500 CRC ($90)

There are 3 flights from San Jose to Quepos every day – all are operated by Sansa Regional. These depart at 09:35, 13:30 and 14:30.

Travel time is 30 minutes and airfares start from 56,500 CRC ($90).

Check Flights with Skyscanner

Step 3: Quepos to Manuel Antonio

Duration: 15 minutes
Cost: 9,000 CRC ($15)

From Quepos Airport, you’ll then have to travel around 10km south to Manuel Antonio, depending on where you’re staying.

If you take a taxi, that would be a 15-minute journey that costs around 9,000 CRC ($15).

Buses are also available from Quepos to Manuel Antonio, but they depart from the town centre. So you’ll have to take 2 buses: from the airport to Quepos town and then to Manuel Antonio. Although the combined bus rate costs only around 1,840 CRC ($3), travel time may take up to 1 hour.


Our favourite places to stay in Manuel Antonio

Millenium Manuel Antonio - Treating yourself

You can’t really ask for a better location in Manuel Antonio than this one. Millennium Hotel is only 100 metres from the national park! That also means that you’re super close to the beach too.

The hotel has its own outdoor swimming pool, perfect for a refreshing swim after walking around the national park. The rooms are spacious and offer everything you could need during your stay. Breakfast is also offered for free in a nearby restaurant.

  • The best location
  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Breakfast included
  • Friendly and helpful staff

Double rooms start from $80 per night

Read More


Tico Tico Villas - Treating yourself

Tico Tico Villas tick all of the boxes. Swimming pool, modern and beautifully designed rooms and a cosy terrace area surrounded by nature. All your needs will be fulfilled here.

Especially thanks to the friendly and helpful staff who will make your stay perfect. You can even enjoy a BBQ as there are facilities available in the hotel./p>

  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • BBQ facilities
  • Amazing staff
  • Close to Manuel Antonio National Park

Double rooms start from $80 per night

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Peace of Paradise - Mid-Range

Peace of Paradise feels exactly that. All you have to do to see wildlife from here is sit on your balcony and wait. Before long, you may be able to see monkeys, toucans, birds and maybe a sloth passing by.

The rooms are large and spacious, offering their own kitchen facilities. You can simply make yourself a coffee or cook a full-blown meal. The hotel has a great location in Manuel Antonio though. Not far from bars and restaurants which may be more tempting than cooking your own meals.

  • Abundant wildlife around the hotel
  • Great location
  • Private balconies
  • Private kitchen facilities

Double rooms between $50-$80 per night

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Hostel Plinio - Budget Friendly

Whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple or in a group, Hostel Plinio will suit your needs. There are both dorms and private rooms available, depending on what you’re looking for.

With the outdoor swimming pool and onsite Mexican restaurant, the place feels more like a mini-resort than a hostel. The breakfast in the morning will set you up perfectly for the day ahead, especially the delicious gallo pinto. And don’t forget to try out their Taco’s!

  • Onsite Mexican restaurant
  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Shared kitchen
  • Breakfast included

Double rooms between $15-$50 per night

Read More


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