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

Posted by Emily Cummings 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.

  • What To Do In Quepos
  • +Nearby Adventures 
  • A Few Tips For Visiting 
  • Getting To Quepos 

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.

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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. 

A Head’s Up: 

On most of the beaches you’ll find things to keep you busy — parasailing (it’s around $80 for 2-3 minutes), 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. 

ILP Costa Rica

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. 

+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:

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”. 

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.

Horseback riding tours are around $70.00 and you get set up with all the gear you need like a little tutorial on how to ride if you’re a beginner and a helmet. You’ll want to book this at least a week in advance to make sure they have enough horses for you.

Once you get to the falls, there are rooms where you can change into a swimming suit, because after a hot and humid hike or horseback ride you’ll want to dive into the pools at the lower falls. You’ll want to bring your swimming suit, a towel, plenty of water and snacks, plus shoes to hike/ride in, also water shoes with good grip to help you keep your footing on the slippery rocks. 

Getting Here From Quepos 

It would be an expensive taxi ride (and about 45 minutes) so we vote for the bus which would be much cheaper. There’s a bus that goes from Quepos to San Isidro Del General a few times a day. The ride takes about two hours and you can check up on bus schedules in Costa Rica here.

Pst: If you’ll be living in Uvita or vacationing on the Ballena Coast, the Nauyaca Falls are lots closer than they are in Quepos, just 25 minutes away or so.

A Few Tips For Visiting 

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.

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.

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.  

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 Costa Rica

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