Where to Stay in Costa Rica – Manuel Antonio National Park – Vegan Travel Blog
If you plan on going to Manuel Antonio National Park in the southwest portion of Costa Rica then the one hotel we recommend you checking out is the Gaia Hotel and Reserve. It’s a 5 star hotel and an Award Winning Hotel that is located just 4.7km from Manuel Antonio National Park! They have won a plethora of awards, anywhere from the Most Romantic Hotel in Costa Rica to the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award. Manuel Antonio is a popular park and for good reasons! For one, it is absolutely beautiful, the beaches and the surrounding areas are so picturesque. And on top of that, it is so densely populated with wild life, it’s insane. This is the number one place we recommend visiting in CR if you are on the hunt to see some wild life; sloths, monkeys, raccoons, birds, lizards, iguanas etc. Click here for our guide to Manuel Antonio National Park and to see more photos. Gaia Hotel and Reserve is a very special place for the locals and visitors alike as they have a 10 acre plot of Costa Rican rainforest to help restore the Red Scarlett Macaw population. Which we will discuss further down in the article about our incredible volunteer day!
The Hotel Room:
Jenni and I had a very memorable experience staying here for 3 nights in the Jungle Room. When we arrived we were greeted by just about everyone who works at the hotel! Our room was really clean, and a good temperature… the A/C is essential even in rainy season. The Gaia Jungle Room was really unique with a bookcase full of classic novels, a table if you wanted to dine in, some couches, a huge shower in the bathroom and the comfiest beds ever. Also in the room we had a nice welcome wine waiting in the fridge for us, and for you coffee and tea addicts, its complimentary in the room.
The staff at the Gaia Hotel deserves every award under the sun. They are so well trained in customer service and are genuine when taking care of you. They really care about the guests and making your experience at the Gaia Hotel and Reserve memorable. We want to say thank you to the golf cart chauffeurs, kitchen/bar staff, front desk, and the wildlife biologist Josue. At any given time, the staff were ready to help, whether that was for reserving dinner, ordering food, organizing events off the resort, or getting to and from Manuel Antonio National Park they were incredibly pleasant and helpful.
A question that every vegan asks when traveling is how to stay vegan while traveling? What on earth do you eat? Well Jenni and I can both attest that Gaia Hotel & Reserve made eating vegan in Costa Rica so easy. The hotel has prepared special menus for people who eat gluten-free and vegan, all you have to do is let them know! The kitchen presented us with a special vegan menu as we sat down for our first dinner. They had plenty of options and we were lucky to try a good variety in the 3 days we were here. My favourite was the vegan lasagna and Jenni’s was the vegan ceviche. For breakfast each morning we had fresh pineapple, papaya, watermelon, bananas, and fresh juice. Some mornings I ordered a grilled vegetable wrap or toast, but there is a good variety of options to choose from. The views while you eat are breathtaking- strategically reserve your dinner table for sunset… you can thank us later!
Around the resort you will never be bored. We promise. The Gaia Hotel infinity pools have some of the best views you could ever ask for while soaking up the sun. On the top pool you can order drinks, eat at the swim up bar, and down below you can soak under the waterfall spilling over from the top pool or lounge on the floatable chairs. The pools also light up at night and are definitely worth checking out. The infinity pools are very well maintained and we had no issues with them being in less than perfect shape.
There is also a gym, located on site near the entrance of the hotel which you will get shuttled down to, by the staff. We went on the nature reserve walk at 7am around the 10 acre reserve where we got to see the massive Scarlett Macaw cage where they raise the birds until they are fit to be released into the wild. Within the nature reserve you will see the Scarlett Macaw’s (there are some out of the cage as well), monkeys, butterflies, and even sloths. You will also learn about the process of the Scarlett Macaw population rehabilitation, and releasing them back into the wild. The Scarlett Macaw population became seriously endangered through mono-cropping and poaching over the last 40 years and seeing efforts like this to help restore these beautiful birds was amazing.
Wherever we travel to, our goal is always to embed ourselves in the culture and volunteer to help contribute in some shape or form to the country or community we’re visiting. Josue, the wildlife biologist on the reserve invited us to volunteer planting trees with kids from a nearby school for. The goal was to plant these trees to create food sources for the Scarlett Macaws, how cool is that?! We planted cashew trees, almond trees, and cedar trees with these kids and it was easily the best part of the entire trip for both of us. The kids were so energetic and loved laughing at me attempting to speak Spanish.
While off the Gaia Resort we did three major activities; visit Manuel Antonio National Park (view our guide to the park here); do the hike to Nauyaca Falls and the Catamaran Tour. How to get to Nauyaca Falls Article is here as well. Each one of these activities takes up a full day so plan accordingly.
Through Gaia we went on the Catamaran Tour with Planet Dolphin which went from 8:30am until 12:45pm. It was such a great time we saw dolphins swim beside the boat, and we went snorkeling near a volcanic reef where we saw tropical fish. After that, we were hucking back flips off the boat and going down the water slide… Jenni captured my average backflips very nicely! On the boat, they served lunch; pesto pasta, fresh fruit, and there was fish kabobs for the non-vegan folks. We got to see a really unique perspective of Manuel Antonio National Park from the water and we highly recommend it if you are looking for something to do!
We wanted to take our time writing this post to ensure we captured everything we did while staying at the Gaia Hotel. You have our word that you will love this place, if you’re a vegan traveler or not… Gaia Hotel and Reserve is a must stay. Our experience here was unforgettable. The incredible staff made it such a pleasure to be here. We really felt welcome and at home.
Chase and Jenni
Here are some important hotel facts in a nutshell if you have any questions leave them down below and we will be sure to answer them!
stunning view from the restaurant and pool
shuttle cart transportation around property
nature reserve walk
great food- a ton of variety! (vegan and gluten free menus available)
nature on your door step- tons of wild life to see (macaws, monkeys, lizards, iguanas etc.)
beautiful infinity pools with loungers
close to manuel antonio national park
5 star service
24 hour Room Service
air conditioning in room
mini bar in room
complimentary coffee and tea in room
on site restaurant “La Luna”
on site bar
shuttle service to and from National Park
in room safe
Address: Km 2.7 Carretera Quepos a Manuel Antonio, Manuel Antonio National Park 6350, Costa Rica
Region: Puntarenas, Costa Rica