Manuel Antonio National Park
Introduction to Manuel Antonio National Park
The Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most popular in Costa Rica and the nearby village of the same name is a great base from which to explore it. The white sand beaches of Manuel Antonio’s perfect bays are bordered by lush green forests and lapped by the deep blue Pacific. It is no surprise then that the region is a very popular place to visit.
But back to the real reason for visiting Manuel Antonio… the nature! In the forested National Park you will find sloths, iguanas and the rare squirrel monkey, and in the pristine waters around the perfect bays there is a flurry of sea life, from dolphins, stingrays and sea turtles to migrating whales and thousands of brightly colored tropical fish. The fantastic beaches are what really draw people, and the two most popular beaches, Espadilla and Manuel Antonio, are separated by a narrow strip of land that stretches out from the mainland to the beautiful Punta Catedral with its dramatic wooded cliffs.
What not to miss in Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park
This National Park is one of the most famous in the country due to its wide variety of flora and fauna. With white sandy beaches, hidden coves and a wildlife-filled tropical forest, Manuel Antonio National Park is an absolute must-see.
Crystal clear waters, busy reefs and a kaleidoscope of tropical fish, make Manuel Antonio one of our favorite places to snorkel in Costa Rica.
Set sail from the mainland and admire the view as the sun sets on the ocean horizon. Casting out spectacularly beautiful colors, sunset sailing is a perfect and romantic ending to a day in Costa Rica’s paradise of Manuel Antonio.
Paddle your way through Manuel Antonio’s protected inland waters exploring the region’s coastal mangroves. As you quietly make your way through the mangroves you’ll encounter a wide variety of wildlife within the mangrove forests.
Rafting on the Savegre River
Take to the water on a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure down the Savegre River. The Savegre River is one of Costa Rica’s most pristine rivers and is surrounded by lush vegetation. The class II and III rapids are perfect for first time whitewater rafters.
While heading towards Manuel Antonio, don’t forget to stop at the bridge over the Tarcoles River. From this vantage point you’ll be able to safely see plenty of huge American crocodiles bathing in the sun.
What you need to know
When to go
One of the best times to visit Manuel Antonio National Park is during the dry season (January-April), though it does get quite hot towards the end of the season and is busy throughout. The rainy season, or ‘green season’ as it is sometimes called, falls from May to December. This is actually a good time to visit the park as there are fewer visitors and you won’t have trouble getting in. Manuel Antonio has become a very popular destination, so during high season the 600 per day visitor limit (800 on Saturdays and Sundays) is very often reached.
Several shuttle bus companies have daily routes that can take you from San Jose and many other cities in Costa Rica to Manuel Antonio.
Where to stay
The nearby town of Quepos and the countryside around it have seen a lot of hotels spring up over the last decade and it very often gets booked out. There are some great hotels in the area though, especially on the hill road between Quepos and Manuel Antonio village, from where you are blessed with beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.
Quepos is a small town with parallel streets, and Manuel Antonio for the most part is a single road leading from Quepos and ending at the public beach. This makes finding your way around these two destinations simple and extremely hard to get lost.
Local buses and shared taxis connect Manuel Antonio village with the town of Quepos.