The Manuel Antonio National Park has quite a reputation. It is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, consisting of 1,700 acres of land and over 130,000 acres of water. Don’t let the size fool you though, it has been rated as one of 12 most beautiful national parks by Forbes in 2011 and is one of the most visited parks in the country. For anybody who is coming to visit Costa Rica and wants to see wildlife and beautiful beaches, Manuel Antonio has to be on their list of places to go.
About the Park
This park was established back in 1972 when Costa Rica decided to preserve the immense natural beauty and biodiversity found within. There is such a vast variety of wildlife and nature present that it is considered one of the most biologically diverse spots in the world.
The park has many hiking trails, a waterfall and several white sand beaches all home to a plethora of animals. It is open Tues-Sunday, 7AM – 4 PM. The entrance fee is $17 for foreigners, but we do recommend you to reserve with us a naturalist guide who is able to point out any wildlife animal and the most beautiful view points along the way.
Please do not forget to bring a towel or beach blanket. The National Park Manuel Antonio features post-card perfect white sandy beaches. You can walk on the rocks at Playa Manuel Antonio and explore some of the tide pools. There are some fantastic coral reefs around the area and snorkeling is possible to do here but you need to bring your own equipment.
Wildlife watching is one of the best at Manuel Antonio National Park. Over 100 species of mammals and 180 species of birds can be found in the park and it is common to see white face monkeys, the endangered squirrel monkey, iguanas and lizards and 2 and 3 toed sloths.
Be very careful with the white face monkeys and raccoons as they will try to steal your food and they have no fear of humans. Other animals you can see are toucans, frogs, coatis, and out in the water it is possible to see dolphins and whales. No matter what day you go, you will be guaranteed to see some monkeys at the very least!
The Hiking Trails
There are several trails in the national park that you can spend a whole day exploring. They lead to beautiful viewpoints, beaches and a waterfall and since many people spend their time at the beach, you can have the trails all to yourself.
Though the beaches are really nice, we highly recommend hiking at least a couple of the trails. Venture into the hot and humid jungle and reward yourself with a refreshing dip in the bright blue waters.
Tips for Visiting Manuel Antonio National Park
You cannot bring food like chips or peanuts in to prevent feeding of wildlife. Park rangers will check your backpack at the entrance.
Do NOT feed the animals! It may seem hilarious that the monkey stole your sandwich but it’s harmful to them.
You can walk the trails with flip flops but closed hiking sandals are recommended
Bring your swimsuit. If you do not want to wear it walking through the park, there are changing stations and showers.
You do not need to wear long hiking pants or shirts, the trails are nicely paved with platforms and you will nott be going in the forest. Just make sure to use repellent.
We recommend to reserve our naturalist guide who will add great benefit to the one must-do activity that is on your list during your stay at Casa Tranquila. He also provides binoculars.
Bring your camera – a wide lens recommended.
Bring water and snacks; and of course sunscreen