Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the jewels of Costa Rica, in a country known for its environmental stewardship. It is approximately 80 miles south of the capital, San Jose, although the road between the two, the Costanera Sur, is not fast. The park is the country's smallest national park, but it is also the most diverse in terms of wildlife, hence its importance. The nearest town of size is Puerto Quepos.
The nearest international airport is in San Jose. Named after national hero Juan Santamaria (SJO), it is southwest of the city, in the town of Alajuela, which makes it particularly convenient for groups coming directly to Manuel Antonio. Numerous flights serve the U.S. on Latin and American airlines. Local airlines with small planes serve Quepos Managua Airport (XQP), which is a seven-mile drive from the park's entrance.
Groups will not find large convention venues in Manuel Antonio, which is, after all, tropical rainforest and sweeping views of Pacific Ocean, but incentive groups and small meetings will do well in the area's worthy hotels and resorts, all of which are on the edge of or outside the park. Hotel venues in Manuel Antonio include the 129-room Parador Resort & Spa; the 58-room Si Como No Resort, Spa & Wildlife Refuge; and the 42-room Los Altos Beach Resort & Spa, which also has 1,500 square feet, and wonderful, 12-room Makanda by the Sea. (There are also luxury tented hotels, such as the Rafiki Safari Lodge, available.)
No one wants to be stuck inside windowless meeting rooms here, so business is conducted on terraces and in thatched, open-sided restaurants, even on the beach and on the water. The 60-foot Tom Cat and 37-foot Spanish Dancer are two fully insured yachts that leave from Manuel Antonio on adventures to see cool places and meet playful dolphins, while team-building exercises take place on the 14-platform Dream Forest Canopy zipline tour inside the national park (ziplining pretty much was invented in Costa Rica). Villa Vanilla, a shady spot in which to learn about local spices and sustainable agriculture, hosts events, as can the Jungle Villa, for up to 120 persons. Another away-from-it-all jungle lodge is the pristine La Reserva Manuel Antonio, which can host dinners and theme evenings.
Most restaurants here are part of small inns or resorts. Good examples include the Villa Bosque, 300 feet from the park's main entrance, and Restaurante Gato Negro, with a Mediterranean menu. Other choices include Jefe's (it will remind you of your local Mexican restaurant, in the Hotel Plinio; the La Luna restaurant and Ambar Bar, both with stunning rainforest views, at the eco-conscious Gaia Hotel & Reserve, and the renowned French restaurant La Cabana del Chef in the Hotel Mariposa.