Located along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park is about 132 kilometers south of the national capital city, San Jose. Though it may be the smallest national park in Costa Rica, you can find an abundance of wildlife as well as spectacular beaches, mountain views, and lush forests, all from several of the available hiking trails. Now considered to be Costa Rica’s most visited national park, make sure to include a visit to Manuel Antonio on your next trip to this beautiful Central American country. But when planning your trip, make sure you check your calendar - the park is closed on Mondays. There are options to stay the night in the park, but regulations prevent hotels from being placed on the beach, instead hotels are located cliff-side offering picturesque views.
If hiking is your thing, plan a guide to take you through the trails. These guides are well-trained to know the areas, so they are more likely to be able to see and hear the elusive animals you would probably miss if you went looking yourself! Wandering through these forests offers a chance to see three- and two-toed sloths, squirrel monkeys, white-headed capuchins, mantled howler monkey, white-nosed coati, as well as various iguanas, bats and snakes. The park is also rich in bird life, but to maximize your chances of seeing some of the 184 species you should consider booking an early morning tour when the birds are more active. No matter what tour you go on, make sure you do not feed the wildlife. When animals, especially monkeys, get fed by tourists they can become aggressive towards people and other animals. They can also hurt themselves on human-made products that they steal from tourists, so keep your backpack zipped tight!
If you are looking for more aquatic adventures, the beaches of this national park provide amazing opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, and kayaking. There are two main beaches; Manuel Antonio Beach is beautiful but it is also the more crowded option. If you are looking for a quieter option to relax, Espadilla Sur Beach is likely your better option. Make sure you keep an eye on the ocean, you might be able to see the some of the dolphins or whales swimming around in the water. Whether your adventure includes strolling through the jungle in search of wildlife, or diving into the ocean waters rich in aquatic life, you are guaranteed to enjoy your visit to Manuel Antonio National Park!