Manuel Antonio Culture & Customs

local customs culture When planning your trip to Manuel Antonio there are many cultural differences that you may notice. Here is your guide to Manuel Antonio culture & customs that you will see in the area:


The local Ticos are happy people and are quick to greet you with a warm  “Pura Vida.” The phrase translates to “full of life” and is often used not only as an initial greeting, but in response to “Como estas?” or “How are you?”  It is also common for the women in Costa Rica to greet other women and men with a kiss on one or both cheeks. Men do not kiss other men, instead a more formal handshake or a one-armed hug among friends is customary.


One of the most stand-out aspects of Manuel Antonio culture & customs is what is known as “Tico Time.” When planning lunch meetings, parties, or even business meetings it is not uncommon for Ticos to show up 30 mins late or more.  This is certainly not meant to be an insult to the other party, but rather emphasis is not placed on timing or strict schedules. This is common in many Latin American countries. As Costa Rica continues to expand its business among foreigners, “Tico Time” is lessening though worth noting that it is not forgotten.


The official religion of Costa Rica is Roman Catholic. Around 70% of the population is Catholic though in practice may be much lower.  Because of this, some taboo topics that you may want to avoid in public are premarital sex, abortion, and homosexuality. There are several churches in the area, the main church located in Quepos just before the turn up to Manuel Antonio main road.


Some of the biggest exports from Costa Rica are coffee, bananas, sugar, rice,  pineapples and tropical fruits & flowers. Walking around Manuel Antonio, you can literally live off the land, picking mangoes, bananas, and coconuts from the trees.

Medicine and Health Care

Costa Rica is a leader among Central America in health care. Free care is provided through the Health Ministry and Social Security System.  Because Costa Rica Doctor’s are highly educated and provide quality care, medical tourism is very common in Costa Rica. Costs for healthcare are substantially cheaper than the escalating prices in the United States. Many travel abroad to Costa Rica to receive dental work and other procedures for fractions of the cost.

Food Customs & Manuel Antonio Eats 

The typical Costa Rica plate “casado” is a rice and bean dish with fried plantains and chicken, fish, or beef, and a salad. Locals will often enjoy the casado dish up to 3 times daily. In Manuel Antonio and Quepos you will see it offered on many menus though both areas do cater to foreigner influence. Menu options in Quepos and Manuel Antonio are rather extensive as you can find traditional Costa Rica dishes to pizza, pasta, falafel and your American-classic burger & fries plate.

Environmental Awareness & Local Initiatives 

Costa Rica is a leader in environmental awareness, standing strong just behind Switzerland as #2 in the world for environmental sustainability. The people are so passionate about maintaining the natural environment of their land that over 25% of Costa Rica landscape is protected within the country’s constitution. Much of the protected land is maintained in National Parks, the most famous in our backyard – Manuel Antonio National Park. In Manuel Antonio you will also find many great environmental initiatives in addition to the park, Manuel Antonio Nature & Wildlife Refuge, Children Saving the Rainforest, and Paws- all various programs designed to protect wildlife, animals, and educate on the importance of protecting the environment.

National Holidays & Celebrations

New Years Day- January 1st

March/April- Easter Week (Semana Santa)

Juan Santamaria Day- Apirl 11

Labor Day- May 1st

Annexation of Guanacaste Day-July 25th

Patron Saint Day- August 2nd

Mother’s Day- August 15th

Independence Day- September 15th

All Souls Day- November 2nd

Christmas Day- December 25th