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Manuel Antonio National Park

Compared to the rest of Costa Rica’s national parks, this one is small. On land, it covers 682.7 hectares, featuring primary and secondary forest (growing right up to the high tide line), mangrove, lagoons and four main beaches. It then expands 55 hectares out to sea, including 12 islands off the coast. Despite its relatively small size, over 100 species of mammals and almost 200 species of birds have been recorded here, not to mention aquatic life including dolphins and migrating whales. All this biodiversity and amazing scenery probably explain why it is one of the most visited parks in the country. People flock here, attracted to the kind of tropical Treasure Island paradise you dream about as a kid. And as romantic as it sounds to wash ashore half-naked like a shipwrecked waif, the proximity of world class hotels and restaurants means you don’t even have to do that anymore.


Right outside the park entrance is the hotel La Posada and the Manuel Antonio Hotel is right between the entrance and the beach. There are many more choices with park and sea views. The area was harder to reach back when it was established in 1972. Even when the Barba Roja bar and restaurant was built in 1975, people still had to either take a horse or walk the 7km dirt road between Quepos and Manuel Antonio beach. As businesses and homes filled up the area during the 1980s, the park became increasingly popular, causing admissions to be limited to 600 people during the week, and 800 on weekends and holidays. Having acclimated to the hundreds of people that filter through the park every day, the wildlife either ignores humans completely, or wonders what they can score from us, (out of habit from being fed by humans). Sadly, not everybody realizes this is a national park, not a petting zoo, so some animals and monkeys have learned to steal and scavenge food off people, which harms their health. Nature never intended for monkeys to eat junk food. Even bananas are not actually a preferred.


The park is open 7 a.m. till 4 p.m. and closed Mondays. Entrance costs $10 per person, but children under 12 are free and there are senior citizen and student discounts (Costa Ricans are charged $2). Professional guides wait outside the entrance to show you around, point out wildlife for you, and let you use their telescope. They charge about $20 but as “non-official” guides hang around too, prices can vary from $10-$30 so ask around - approved guides have I.D. badges and a uniform. You’re not allowed to fish or camp overnight in the park, but you can rent beach equipment. There are trails, restrooms and picnic areas inside. You can bring snacks but there is a nice soda outside the park and La Posada does great pizzas. Locals do a tasty clean barbeque grill on the beach or you can check out Marlin‘s Restaurant opposite. For more park information call 2777-5185.

Other neighborhoods in Central Pacific: Quepos, Manuel Antonio, Londres, Playa Matapalo and Hotel Mariposa.

By Dallas
Bachelor of Health Sciences & Psychology, TEFL Graduate, worked as an adventure tour photographer, travel writer, Voxy blogger, Chamber of Commerce...
07 Oct 2008

Things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park

Hiking in the Park

125318The best time of day to hike is typically early morning. It’s not as hot, generally less crowded, you can avoid afternoon rain and often have a better chance of spotting wildlife. If you want to ...
Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Wildlife Watching

With 100 different species of mammals and almost 200 different species of birds (not to mention all the plant life), you’re almost guaranteed to spot something in the park. Explore on your own or ...
Other Activity
Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
View Manuel Antonio National Park Map

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