Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park (closed on Mondays) contains three beautiful beaches, casual forest trails, and a dense rainforest teaming with animal life. In 2011, it was named by Forbes as one of the world’s most beautiful parks.
Manuel Antonio Beaches
The two main beaches inside the park, Espadilla Sur Beach and Manuel Antonio Beach are about a 30-minute hike from the main entrance of the park. Playa Manuel Antonio is best known for its spectacular views, but if you’re looking to beat the crowds, venture a bit further down the main trail to Playa Espadilla Sur. The beaches of Manuel Antonio are singularly beautiful with stunning, brightly-colored sunsets. The light sand beaches in the coastal park are popular for relaxing, swimming, snorkeling, and surf lessons.
Manuel Antonio is the smallest park in the Costa Rica, but abundant with wildlife. Capuchin, Howler, and Squirrel Monkeys are some of the most social creatures in the park. Don’t feed them, and hold on to your snacks! You can also expect to see sloths, iguanas, agoutis, and hundreds of species of birds – just to name a few. Book an early morning guided tour of the park with a professional naturalist guide to avoid the crowds and increase your odds of seeing more wildlife. Naturalist guides have an eye and an ear for locating wildlife that most people miss.
Hike Manuel Antonio Trails
You’re sure to see plenty of wildlife throughout your stay in the Manuel Antonio region, but hiking the trails within Manuel Antonio National Park will certainly bring you up close to many of the shyer rainforest animals. Plus you’ll get to take in the rainforest views from a unique vantage point. The main trail within the park is a 1.3-mile flat, sandy trail that links the park’s beaches. This trail is perfect for travelers of all ages. Our Experts recommend visiting the park with a professional, naturalist guide and hitting the trails early to avoid crowds and see more wildlife! Another slightly more challenging trail for the adventurous is Punta Catedral, a beautiful 0.9-mile loop trail of moderate difficulty and some steep inclines. The trail is accessible from both Manuel Antonio Beach and Espadilla Sur Beach.
Sportfishing from the port town of Quepos is world famous. It has even earned the title of Sailfish Capital of the World. Fishermen might also reel in Marlin, Tuna, Dorado, Wahoo, Snook, Roosterfish, and Snapper. Fishing from Quepos is good year-round, but frequency can vary by month for different species. Ask a Costa Rica Expert for fishing recommendations. Fishing charters are available for half day and full day excursions.
Santa Juana Mountain Village
For a change of scenery, consider a day trip to the nearby Santa Juana Mountain Village. Located in the Central Pacific mountains — about an hour from Quepos, Santa Juana offers the unique opportunity to experience the campesino lifestyle of rural Costa Rica. Tour the village, and try traditional Costa Rican cooking, tilapia fishing, and horseback riding on this cultural adventure.
Manuel Antonio Travel Information
Climate: Dry- December to April, Wet- May to November, Wettest- September & October
Temperature: Average high 92°, tropical weather with brief afternoon showers typical May to November.
Bring: Beachwear, hiking sandals and an appetite since there are many great local restaurants.