Centrally located and easy to access, Manuel Antonio National Park has become one of the most visited national parks in Costa Rica. Rightfully so, with its pristine rainforest bursting with some of the country’s most interesting wildlife paired with the postcard-worthy tropical beaches. It is a day away in paradise!
South of Quepos, about 3 to 3.5 hours from San Jose, depending on the traffic that day Manuel Antonio National Park lies along Costa Rica’s central Pacific Coast.
Established in 1972, it is considered to be one of the smaller national parks in Costa Rica, however, once inside it feels anything but small. Walking along the entrance boardwalk of the towering trees wildlife often greets you immediately within before you even make it out onto the hiking paths and breathtaking beaches.
Although Manuel Antonio National Park draws the crowds in numbers you still feel find a sense of peace and tranquility at one of its sparkling beaches with Playa Manuel Antonio being one of the most famous and favorites within Costa Rica.
Find shade from the hot and humid air under the jungle-lined beaches laying out on the white sands that contrast beautifully against the turquoise glistening waters. Explore the less crowded shores and simply sit back and admire the indescribable beauty and wonder of the park.
Hiking within Manuel Antonio National Park leads you out into lush jungle scenes with trail names like sloth trail, mirador, congo, and waterfall taking you all through the exquisite flora and fauna that make up this remarkable park.
A universal trail has been constructed allowing all to have the amazing opportunity to experience Manuel Antonio with its universal accessibility. Braille has been added to the signs that line the elevated platform trail.
Guides and tours are readily available at Costa Rica’s National Parks and Manuel Antonio National Park is one destination where it is a great investment. Walking through the trails you can easily find and enjoy the curiosity of the capuchin monkeys, however, spotting the endearing sloths camouflaged amongst the treetops is not so easy.
The guide’s expert eyes are well trained to know where and how to locate the exciting wildlife within from squirrel monkeys, howlers, and more capuchin monkeys, sloths. Not only will you have the opportunity to see these unique animals but the access to their high-powered scope to bring them right before your eyes enables you to have some of the most memorable photos.
Manuel Antonio National Park is a playground for some of the country’s most interesting wildlife of coatis, anteaters with 109 varied species of mammals and over 350 species of birdlife. If you have the opportunity, take your time and explore all that is deep within its rainforests as there is so much to discover.
Entrance tickets to Manuel Antonio National Park must be purchased online and is the only way in which you can get your tickets as they do not provide this option at the park entrance. The site does offer English as you make your reservation and you will need to enter your passport number. Ensure you have your reservation number with you when you arrive or your barcode that is provided along with your passport for confirmation.
Something to take into consideration and remember when visiting Manuel Antonio National Park is that you are not permitted to bring in any food. Food and snacks are available to purchase once you are inside the National Park. Manuel Antonio National Park, however, does allow you to have beverages on you when you enter.
Be cognizant of the container you are bringing your liquids in as they do not allow single-use plastics. As of February 25, 2021 SINAC (National System of Conservation Areas) advised that the use of single-use plastics is prohibited in all of Costa Rica’s National Parks, therefore, it is not just Manuel Antonio National Park.
Non-reusable plastic bags, straws, stirrers, disposable plastic bottles, and cups are all considered single-use plastics. As well, leave your pets and drones at home as they are also not permitted into Manuel Antonio National Park.
Once you have yourself packed and ready to go Manuel Antonio National Park is open all week except for Tuesdays from 7 am until 3 pm as you need to ensure you are out of the park by 4. You can even spend Christmas day here as long as it doesn’t fall on a Tuesday along with other recognized and celebrated holidays.
If this is a first-time visit, don’t go with the first parking that you find as you enter the area. Even their website makes mention of this, that although there isn’t any official parking area for your visit, there is parking for around 3,000 to 5,000 colones which may depend on the season near the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park which will be on the same road close by.
Wait until you find this as you will encounter many other locations along the road that have set up what they call “national park parking”, however, it is not and you will find yourself walking quite a bit as well as paying more.
After spending the day hiking through the jungle trails and out in the rays of Costa Rica’s tropical sun, the last thing you want to do at the end of your day of exploring is add on another mile and perhaps return to some missing items.
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the staples of the country that many put on their bucket list of things to do when visiting Costa Rica. After treating yourself to a day away, you can see why. Manuel Antonio National Park makes up all the facets of Costa Rica with its gorgeous and paradisical beaches, rainforest trails of sloths, monkeys and so many of the country’s exotic animals.
You check off so many boxes of things to experience when visiting Manuel Antonio National Park with your pictures becoming your personal postcards of some of the most amazing memories. The toughest part will be deciding which ones to share as there will be too many to post.