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You Can’t Run Out Of Things To Do In Quepos, Costa Rica

Posted by Emily Henkel on 6/11/19 3:22 PM

ILP Costa Rica

Swaying palm trees, a dozen beaches, and right next door to one of the country’s most famous national parks, and that’s just the start.

You’re pretty spoiled when it comes to places to explore in Costa Rica. Whether you’re looking for an artsy capital city, sprawling jungles filled with adventures, hikes to towering volcanoes or a lazy weekend hanging out on pristine beaches, you can find that all in Costa Rica, sometimes all in the same spot.  

Do more than just visit Costa Rica 
Get more out of your trip with this Central America Destination Guide


That’s one of the biggest reasons we love making a vacation to Quepos: it’s a smaller city on the western coast of the country and is home to some of our favorite beaches plus it’s the best place to visit before heading to Manuel Antonio, one of the absolute best national rainforests Costa Rica has to offer. 

Since you have to get to Quepos to get to Manuel Antonio anyways (Quepos is where buses will take you from San Jose, and where the airport is), we thought we would put together a few things to do in Quepos to help you plan your trip.

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What To Do In Quepos 

The Beaches 

There is a beach you can access inside of the National Park (more on Manual Antonio below) but that means paying the park entrance (but Manuel Antonio Beach is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches in the area). However, just a short taxi or bus ride from Quepos city center to the coast means access to a few other beaches. Here are the favorites: 

Espadilla Beach 

Our go to beach in Quepos, outside of the one you’ll find inside the park. You’ll find restaurants on the southern end (which helps make that section of the beach more crowded) but with more than 3 miles of sand, you can just head to the northern end.

There are crowds you can find vendors selling chairs and umbrellas for the day: you can bargain to get two chairs and an umbrella for about $10 for the day (but you’ll be asked for more!) or you can lay out your own towels in the shady parts by the trees. It’s a fun swimming beach but a prime spot to rend boogie boards for the day.

ILP Costa Rica

ILP Costa Rica

Biesanz Beach

One in particular that’s worth checking out is Biesanz Beach. It’s on the road to Punta Quepos near the Parador Resort — you’ll see a little sign pointing you towards Biesanz Beach, but the trail itself isn’t marked.  To get to the beach, you’ll walk through the forest for about five minutes (just look for the little gate on the side of the road, at the bottom of the hill).  It’s a great swimming beach, with a little cove that makes for calm waters.

From Quepos, there’s a bus that runs to Biesanz Beach (for about $0.50). Look for the bus with “Biesanz Beach” in the front windshield. 

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A Heads Up: 

On most of the beaches you’ll find things to keep you busy —  kayak rental ($15-20 for the day), deep sea fishing excursions, snorkeling gear to rent, etc. These gals lucked out and found vendors selling floaties for around $1.50. Score. 

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The Farmer’s Market

Really enjoy living in a tropical paradise by visiting one of the bigger farmer’s markets (ferias) in the area: we are talking piles of fruits like pineapple, coconut, passion fruit, gleaming rambutans, huge melons, bunches of bananas, papaya, and others, along with baked breads and pies, ice cream vendors, and fresh made cheese. In the mood for some souvenirs? You can find that here too, things like local art, jewelry  and woven baskets.  

It’s nice to visit in the evenings on Friday (it’s not so hot) or early Saturday morning. Most of the vendors and customers are locals so knowing a bit of Spanish will go a long way, but it’s still the best spot to go for some fresh fruit and veggies. 

Open on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings, just head to the seawall in downtown Quepos. 


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Walk The Marina + Have Dinner

Past volunteers recommend taking some time to wander around the Marina in Quepos — find cool boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and a gorgeous view of all the boats on the water.  The views here are so beautiful especially at sunset! We've had groups make a whole evening at it and snag dinner here between walking around. You'll have quite a selection, but past groups have liked Runaway Grill for a dinner of salads, burgers, quesadillas, and more. Yum. 

Here's the address : CRGM+H35 Marina Pez Vela, Puntarenas Province, Quepos, Costa Rica
Hours: 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM 

ILP Costa Rica


Foodie Tours

I don't always love a tour because I'm more of an adventure-seeker, but I have to admit that I love tours in Costa Rica. It's one of those countries where not only do you get to support locals this way, but they can get you to experience all the hidden gems that you wouldn't have found on your own.

One tour you might want to check out is Villa Vanilla — a spice tour on a plantation just outside of Quepos. One ILP group said "the tasting at the end is to DIE for! 10/10 recommend." And bonus, the views out there are insane.  Learn more about it here.

+Nearby Adventures

There’s a lot to see just outside of Quepos, which is one of the main reasons why tourists come to this part of Costa Rica — here are a few to check out:

Take A Catamaran Tour 

A popular option if you want to taste of luxury for the day! Past groups have loved booking a catamaran tour that takes you along the coastline, typically with lunch and fruit included, and a sunset view with whales or dolphins if you're lucky. Some also include snorkeling to see the animals from below the water There are a few to choose from, but some groups have gone with this company and loved it, but feel free to do your own research. 

Manual Antonio

Probably  the reasons people come here in the first part: inside the park of Manuel Antonio, you can hike thick tropical trails full of animals like colorful parrots and playful monkeys, or head to the treetops for adventures like zip lining or hikes to waterfalls.  This has enough to keep you busy for a couple of days, at least.

We have a guide to Manual Antonio Park here to give you and idea of what you can do inside of the park. 

ILP Costa Rica

White Water Rafting 

Outside of Quepos has world class white-water rafting. And don’t worry, you don’t have to have any experience —the majority of tour companies will set you up with a professional guide to help you navigate the foamy waves.  

One ILP Group went rafting with Amigos Del Rio and “LOVED IT”. It was $90 and included breakfast, lunch, and several hours of river rafting. They have a few different packages depending on skill level and what kind of experience you want.  If you need a little more convincing one ILP volunteer said “it was one of our favorite things we have done here”. 

Another group went rafting on the Savagre river with Iguana Tours (we "HIGHLY recommend this") if you want to go check that option out, too. It's $95 per person for a day of rafting, the chance to jump into the river when it's calm and swimmable, and navigating the white water with a team of trained guides. 

ILP Costa Rica

ILP Adventure

Kayak Through Mangroves

Other groups recommend  Kayaking with Tucanes Tours where you can paddle through the tropical mangroves and maybe get a closer look at some wildlife. You'll be kayaking under a huge forest canopy which is amazingly pretty (and a nice change of pace from high-adventure activities like white-water rafting). It was a highlight not to be missed. 

Chocolate Tour

Another option that gives you some insight to the local culture (and more time in the jungle) is taking a chocolate tour. There are a few options to choose from, but you'll typically get the chance to hike up and see where the cacao plants are grown, learn how they're roasted and turned into chocolate. Most include a chocolate tasting as well! Past groups have gone with Villa Vanilla Chocolate and Spice Tour if that's helpful to know. 

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Hike To Nauyaca Waterfall 

One of the most stunning waterfalls in all of Costa Rica is just a couple hours away from Quepos, and easily done on a day trip. Most companies will take you on horseback (big fans of that adventure) but you can also hike to the falls directly. Anyway, you’ll need to head to the office of Don Lula, who owns the property. A ticket to the hike is $8, and it’s about 2.5 miles each way. You can get horses here at the office.

Visit this blog post about the Nauyaca Waterfall for tons of info on how to plan your trip here. 


A Few Tips For Visiting 

When Should I Visit? 

It’s pretty gorgeous here year round, but you’ll see lots of rain and muddy trails during the rainy season, from December to April in particular. But even in the dry season, you’ll see rain in this part of Costa Rica.

How Long Should I Stay? 

ILP volunteers have it tough, with every weekend off plus vacation time spread out through their semester. However we think about 4 days is the ideal time to spend in Quepos and Manual Antonio. That amount of time lets you spend time on the coast, in the rainforest, and a day trip or two.

Where Should I Stay?

Some opt to stay in Quepos, while others find spots in the park itself. I’d look at your itinerary and decide where you are spending most of your time. If you plan on doing four days in the park, you won’t want to bus in and out from Quepos.

But if you just want one day in the park, then want to spend your other days on the Quepos beaches or day trips like rafting or treks to waterfalls, we vote staying in Quepos.  

Volunteer groups in the past who have enjoyed staying at the Art Hostel Costa Linda (it's within walking distance to the entrance of the park) if that's helpful to know. 

Another few groups have stayed at Hostel Plinio tucked into a jungle-like setting and has a pool and free breakfast. It's found right next to a bus stop so it's easy to get to the park from here. 

La Posada is another option recommended by past ILP groups, who had this to say: "La Posada was a very affordable price when split between people, has a pool, and A/C. There are hostel options, but we just preferred those perks over the cheapest price!" 

Here's an AirBnB that can maybe fit your whole group that gives you the jungle experience but still lets you be close to everything that's going on in Quepos. It's a fav according to a couple of past ILP groups. 

This AirBnB is another popular option with our volunteers — same with this one. 

ILP Adventure in Costa Rica

Getting To Quepos

By Bus From San Jose

It’s a 3.5 hour bus ride and costs around $8 to get to Quepos. It’s best to take a “directo” bus because you’ll have fewer stops and you’ll get there faster, but the “collectivo” buses can sometimes be a bit cheaper. 

San José Tracopa Terminal: Buses leave for Quepos from San Jose at 6:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 1:15 PM  Monday - Sunday. 

{You can click that blue Terminal heading to get more info.} 

We have more information on buses and bus schedules in Costa Rica, here. You'll get pretty familiar with traveling by bus in Costa Rica if you spend a few weeks here and don't want to spend money on airfare. 

By Plane From San Jose 

You can also take a short flight from San Jose to Quepos: a 25 minute plane ride gets you there for around $122 on natureair. 

Once you’re in Quepos, you'll want to get a taxi into town, to your hostel or hotel, or even to the Manual Antonio Park. Just know that the official taxis are bright red and always have a yellow placard on the side — there are lots of pirate taxis around that try to scam tourists. Expect to pay around $6-$7 to get between the Quepos and the national park. 

ILP Adventure Costa Rica

ILP Costa Rica

Costa Rica's the perfect place for you 

If you're looking for the chance to spend more time exploring jungles, trekking to waterfalls, soaking up that Pura Vida lifestyle you'll love the idea of volunteering in Costa Rica! Come see what that's like here: 

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Topics: Central America


*Because of the worldwide pandemic, travel options are limited and frequently changing. You'll need to do additional research as resources + activities shared in this post may or may not be available at the time of your trip.

ILP volunteers — work closely with your Program Manager who can help you understand current country entrance requirements which will determine what countries you can visit during your semester. 



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We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.

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