Quepos & Manuel Antonio
June 20, 2018
At the bottom of the hill that Manuel Antonio rests on, you will find the small but lively town of Quepos. This is the town that is home of Marina Pez Vela, a buzzing farmer’s market, a beautiful and well-loved Catholic church, and dozens of shops and restaurants. While Quepos and Manuel Antonio are now the home to many expats & locals – and draw thousands of tourists in annually – it hasn’t always been that way.
Quepos has experienced waves of hardships, change, and adaptation. Its name originated from the indigenous Quepoa Indian tribe which originally inhabited the area in the 1500s. However, by the end of the 19th century, the Quepoa tribe had unfortunately been nearly wiped out by disease, warfare, and slavery during Spanish colonization.
As Spanish settlers made Quepos their home, they cultivated the Costa Rican soil and used the land for banana plantations, which supported the area’s economy for years. In the mid-1950’s, natural disasters and disease destroyed the banana plantations, which forced farmers to switch from bananas to palm oil as a main export. To this day, you will see acres of palm farms on your drive into Quepos!
While palm oil is still a prominent export for the area, Quepos & Manuel Antonio took a turn towards tourism in 1972 when the Manuel Antonio National Park was established. This bio-diverse park drew attention to the area and spiked the interest of avid travelers. To accommodate these new tourists, by 1980 Manuel Antonio had some rustic cabinas, a few luxury villas, a beachfront bar, and the restaurant El Barba Roja, which can still be visited to this day right next to Tulemar!
By the 1990’s, gay men were one of the cutting edge groups to move into the Manuel Antonio area and helped to develop the town into one of the country’s hottest destinations. This was the small spark that lit the fire of expats and tourists flocking to the area. This uprising has molded the area into what it is today: a bustling destination for adventure tourists, eco-tourists, surfers, sports fishermen, families, and of course, local ticos who take pride in their resilient town.
If you’re looking for a place rich in history and full of breathtaking bio-diversity, Quepos/Manuel Antonio is the perfect destination for your travels!