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Manuel Antonio National Park

Nestled along the Pacific coast, Manuel Antonio National Park is a jewel within Costa Rica that beckons nature lovers from around the world. You may be searching for that perfect blend of tropical beaches and rich biodiversity to escape the hustle of everyday life.

This is exactly where Manuel Antonio shines as a premier destination, promising an elusive mix of relaxation and adventure in one of nature’s most stunning playgrounds.

Manuel Antonio National Park isn’t just another pretty place; it boasts some of the planet’s incredible wildlife and landscapes. With over 184 species of birds, playful monkeys, and serene sloths calling this park home, you’re stepping into a living postcard.

Our blog is your gateway to uncovering all that makes this park special—from when to visit, what trails offer awe-inspiring views, where you can rest your head at night after days filled with exploration—to ultimately ensuring your trip here becomes a treasured memory.

Let us guide you through every lush trail and hidden cove in this corner of paradise. Keep reading to unlock the secrets of Manuel Antonio!

Key Takeaways

  • Manuel Antonio National Park, located in Costa Rica, is a top destination for its beautiful beaches and rich biodiversity with over 184 bird species and various monkeys.
  • Visitors need to book entry tickets online through the SINAC website before visiting due to crowd control policies; ticket prices are $16 USD plus tax for adults and $5 USD plus tax for children.
  • The park offers different trails suitable for all levels, including the Main Trail that leads to Playa Manuel Antonio as well as Sendero La Catarata featuring enchanting waterfalls.
  • For wildlife enthusiasts, the park is home to capuchin monkeys, sloths, toucans, iguanas and during certain seasons, visitors can spot humpback whales off the coast.
  • Accommodation options near the park range from luxury resorts like Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort to budget-friendly hostels such as Hostel Plinio.

Location of Manuel Antonio National Park

As we journey from the vibrant energy of Costa Rican city life, Manuel Antonio National Park emerges on the Central Pacific coast. This stunning natural treasure is nestled within the Puntarenas province, a scenic drive away from the country’s capital.

Perched between the bustling town of Quepos and the serene beaches of Manuel Antonio, this park is a gem that boasts both lush tropical forests and pristine shorelines. The proximity to Quepos gives travelers easy access to local amenities before they embrace the wild beauty inside Manuel Antonio National Park.

Parking spots dot the landscape near Playa Espadilla, but getting there early ensures you snag a space to start your day at one of Costa Rica’s most beloved national parks.

How to Get to Manuel Antonio National Park

Embark on your journey to the majestic Manuel Antonio National Park, nestled along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Whether you opt for the scenic public bus ride from San José or prefer the freedom of driving through lush landscapes, your adventure begins with setting course for this tropical paradise.

Public Bus

Taking the public bus to Manuel Antonio National Park is both easy on the wallet and straightforward. From the Quepos bus station, buses depart as early as 5:30 AM and continue until 9:30 PM, offering numerous options for visitors eager to start their adventures.

single ride costs just 385 CRC—affordable and convenient.

If you’re coming from Jaco, a quick transfer in Quepos will put you on the right track to reach this natural wonderland. These buses run frequently throughout the day, ensuring that even if you’re connecting from further away, getting to your destination remains hassle-free.

With each trip revealing more of Costa Rica’s scenic beauty, your journey by public bus becomes an integral part of your visit to Manuel Antonio National Park.


If you’re planning to drive to Manuel Antonio National Park, it’s worth noting that the route is scenic but requires some caution. The road from Quepos to the park is paved and well-maintained, which means you won’t need a four-wheel drive vehicle; a regular car should suffice for this journey.

However, be prepared for narrow and winding sections as you approach your destination. These parts of the road demand careful attention and slower speeds, especially if you’re not used to driving in Costa Rica.

Finding parking near Manuel Antonio National Park can be tricky due to limited space. It’s recommended to arrive early in order to secure a spot. Parking lots situated close to the entrance charge around 4,000 colones per day, so having local currency on hand will ease this part of your trip.

After your car is parked safely, get ready for an unforgettable adventure within one of Costa Rica’s most spectacular settings – next stop: Best Time to Visit Manuel Antonio National Park!

Best Time to Visit Manuel Antonio National Park

The dry season, spanning December through April, is ideal for sun-seekers and beach enthusiasts visiting Manuel Antonio National Park. Travelers can enjoy clearer trails and better wildlife viewing opportunities during these months.

– Plan your trip between December and April to experience the park at its driest; this period promises sunny days perfect for hiking and relaxing on Playa Manuel Antonio.

– Consider early mornings for park visits; you’ll beat the heat and encounter fewer visitors while enjoying a peaceful atmosphere.

– Be aware that holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Easter are peak times; expect more visitors as these periods coincide with local vacation times.

– Bear in mind that although the wet season from May to November sees more rainfall, it also brings out the lush greenery of the forest, making it a great time for photographers.

– Pack rain gear if you choose to visit during the wet season; occasional showers make waterproof clothing essential but also contribute to less crowded experiences.

– Take advantage of snorkeling tours after rainy days when underwater visibility improves due to sediment settling on ocean floors.

Next up: Entry requirements and opening hours are crucial details every visitor should know before heading to Manuel Antonio National Park.

Entry and Opening Times at the Park

Discover the logistics of immersing yourself in Manuel Antonio National Park’s enchantment, where entry times frame your adventure within this tropical paradise; continue reading to unveil how you can maximize every moment spent amid nature’s masterpieces.

Online Reservations

Booking your visit to Manuel Antonio National Park requires a bit of planning ahead, as you can’t simply purchase tickets at the gate. Visitors must make their reservations online through the official SINAC website.

This ensures your spot in this popular destination is secured before you arrive, eliminating any risk of being turned away due to crowd control policies. It’s straightforward: choose your desired date and time slot, and have your credit card ready for a smooth transaction.

Securing entrance tickets from the government website not only guarantees authenticity but also avoids potential issues with third-party vendors. Make sure to print out or download your tickets onto your mobile device; each comes with its own bar code which will be scanned upon entry into the park.

Bear in mind that cell service inside the park can be spotty, so having a hard copy might save some hassle just in case technology fails when it’s least convenient.

National Park Tickets

Securing your entry to Manuel Antonio National Park is essential for a hassle-free experience. Adult visitors from abroad pay $16 USD plus tax, while the rate for kids aged 2-12 is set at $5 USD plus tax; children below two get in free of charge.

Be aware that during peak travel seasons, tickets are in high demand — the park caps its daily admissions at around 3000 people. This limit ensures conservation efforts stay effective and visitor experiences remain enjoyable.

To avoid missing out due to maximum capacity, purchasing tickets ahead of time is advisable, especially if your schedule includes visiting on weekends or holidays when the park sees more foot traffic.

Plan wisely and book early to guarantee your spot on this adventure into one of Costa Rica’s most cherished ecological treasures. With your tickets ready, you’ll be all set to explore parking options before setting out into the lush greenery of Manuel Antonio National Park.

Parking Information

Finding parking is an essential part of your visit to Manuel Antonio National Park. While the park itself doesn’t have an official parking lotlocal lots are available near the entrance and typically charge 4000 CRC for a full day’s use.

Keep in mind you’ll want to arrive early, as these lots fill up quickly due to the popularity of Manuel Antonio.

It’s important to exercise caution when choosing where to leave your car, as not all nearby lots are officially sanctioned. Look out for signs or ask at your hotel about trusted parking areas.

Make sure you’ve purchased your park tickets online beforehand because they aren’t sold at the gate – this will save you time for more beach exploration or wildlife spotting within the park.

Exploring the Park: Guide or Self-Guided?

Embarking on a journey through Manuel Antonio National Park offers two distinct paths: enlisting the expertise of a local guide or embracing the adventure of a self-guided exploration.

Each choice promises its unique blend of discovery, from curated insights into the park’s ecosystem to independent encounters with its natural wonders.

Hiring a Guide

Hiring a guide at Manuel Antonio National Park enriches your visit with expert insights into the park’s diverse ecosystem. Certified naturalist guides, easily found at the park entrance, offer fascinating details about the wildlife and plant life you’ll encounter.

With their trained eyes, guides spot creatures that often go unnoticed by unassisted visitors, making them ideal for families with eager-to-learn children or nature enthusiasts keen on understanding the rich biodiversity.

These knowledgeable locals can transform a simple hike into an educational adventure.

Opting for a guided tour takes care of logistics like transportation and entry tickets; all you need to do is enjoy the journey through one of Costa Rica’s most beloved natural attractions.

Tours include not just informative guidance but also extras such as bottled water and fruit to keep you refreshed as you explore. Whether it’s spotting howler monkeys swinging through the canopy or unveiling the secrets of Manuel Antonio’s tropical rainforest, choosing to hire a guide could be your ticket to unlocking the hidden wonders of this beautiful beach haven.

Self-Guided Tours

Immerse yourself in the wonders of Manuel Antonio National Park with a self-guided tour, perfect for those who prefer to explore at their own rhythm. Venture along trails like the Catarata Estacional Trail towards a serene waterfall or scale the heights on the Miradores Trail to capture breathtaking panoramas.

You’ll enjoy complete freedom to pause where you wish, watching monkeys swing through treetops and exotic birds soar overhead.

Each path offers its unique slice of Costa Rica’s vibrant ecology without requiring a guide—allowing intimate encounters with nature on your schedule. Trek Los Congos Trail to commune with howler monkeys, or stroll leisurely along Playa Gemelas and Puerto Escondido Trails for glimpses of hidden beaches and lush mangroves.

Up next: uncover what delights await you on Manuel Antonio National Park’s diverse network of trails.

Manuel Antonio National Park Trails

Venture along the network of trails within Manuel Antonio National Park and discover a tapestry of rich biodiversity that unfolds across both land and sea vistas. Each path offers a unique perspective on this ecological wonder, from the dense rainforest canopies to the stunning coastal views that have captivated adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Sendero La Catarata (Waterfall Trail)

Trek along Sendero La Catarata and immerse yourself in the heart of Manuel Antonio’s natural beauty. This trail invites hikers to explore beyond the beach, offering a lush pathway that leads to enchanting waterfalls cascading through vibrant tropical foliage.

Here, the air fills with the sounds of nature as water tumbles over rocks, and birds chirp overhead.

Prepare for an encounter with Manuel Antonio’s diverse wildlife as monkeys swing from tree limbs and exotic birds take flight. Suitable for all ages and fitness levels, this journey rewards nature enthusiasts with its serene atmosphere and intimate look at Costa Rica’s treasured landscapes.

Every step on Sendero La Catarata promises an adventure where the majestic wonders of Manuel Antonio National Park reveal themselves one by one.

Main Trail

The Main Trail is your gateway to the wonders of Manuel Antonio National Park. As you make your way through this well-trodden path, the park reveals its secrets piece by piece – a vivid dance of colors and sounds.

With every step, visitors have the chance to encounter an array of wildlife, from playful capuchin monkeys swinging above to shy iguanas basking in sunlit clearings.

Walking along this trail immerses guests in the lush scenery that defines Costa Rica’s natural heritage. The route is designed for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike, offering stunning views of both manuel antonio beach and espadilla sur beach at various points.

Hikers find themselves enthralled by the vibrant ecosystem surrounding them, where each turn might unveil another marvel of this biodiverse paradise.

Universal Trail (Sendero Perezoso)

The Universal Trail, also known as Sendero Perezoso, winds gently through Manuel Antonio National Park. It beckons with a mix of pristine beaches and wild jungle terrains that families and casual hikers find just right for an easy-going trek.

As you meander along this path, the air comes alive with the calls of howler monkeys, while three other monkey species playfully scamper in the canopy overhead.

This trail isn’t just about getting your steps in—it’s a gateway to wildlife encounters and panoramic views that leave visitors in awe. Keep your eyes peeled for sloths lounging in the trees or deer grazing quietly as vibrant birds flit from branch to branch.

Hike toward breathtaking viewpoints overlooking Playa Manuel Antonio and feel nature’s grandeur envelop you. With connections to other trails like Playa Gemelas and Puerto Escondido within reach, Sendero Perezoso serves as your starting line for a full exploration of this coastal gem’s diverse ecosystems and scenic splendors.

Punta Catedral

Leaving the serenity of the Universal Trail behind, Punta Catedral awaits with its own unique splendor. This trail is a favorite among visitors looking to immerse themselves in nature’s magnificence.

It promises an unforgettable journey across a natural bridge surrounded by panoramic vistas of the ocean and dotted islands that captivate your senses. As hikers traverse this path, they will encounter diverse wildlife in their natural habitat – from playful monkeys swinging through trees to sloths languidly perched on branches.

Punta Catedral offers more than just a walk; it is an exploration of Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity wrapped in the tranquil ambiance of lush jungle foliage. Hikers find solace under the dense canopy as deer graze quietly and lizards scuttle across leaf-littered trails.

Here, seasoned nature enthusiasts and casual day-hikers alike bask in moments filled with peace and exhilaration amidst one of Manuel Antonio National Park’s most enchanting landscapes.

Sendero Playa Manuel Antonio Trail and Sendero Espadilla Sur Trail

The Sendero Playa Manuel Antonio trail beckons with its breathtaking vistas, inviting visitors to gaze upon the vibrant marine landscape and the famous Playa Manuel Antonio. As you stroll along this path, keep your eyes peeled for a parade of wildlife—energetic monkeys swinging through the trees, slow-moving sloths in leisurely repose, and curious deer peeking through the foliage.

Birdwatchers will delight in spotting Black-throated Trogons and brilliant Chestnut-Mandibled Toucans among other feathered treasures.

Venture onto the Sendero Espadilla Sur trail for a different experience—one that offers tranquil seclusion away from bustling beaches. This less-traveled route gifts adventurers with peaceful moments as white-faced monkeys often make surprise appearances, descending from their treetop havens to interact near the beachside cafe.

Here on this serene path, nature sings a gentle lullaby while providing an authentic connection with Costa Rica’s cherished biodiversity.

What to Wear/Bring to Manuel Antonio National Park

Setting out for a day at Manuel Antonio National Park requires the right gear to fully enjoy its beauty. Pack smartly to embrace the adventure that awaits in one of Costa Rica’s most stunning natural attractions.

  • Water-resistant backpack: Keep your essentials dry as you explore humid environments or encounter sudden rain showers.
  • Light rain jacket: Prepare for unpredictable weather by carrying a lightweight jacket that can shield you from rain without adding too much bulk.
  • Hiking sandals: Opt for sturdy yet comfortable footwear appropriate for walking on trails and along the beach.
  • Mosquito repellent: Protect yourself from insect bites with an effective repellent, especially if you’re venturing out during dawn or dusk.
  • Sunscreen: Apply and bring sunscreen with high SPF to guard your skin against intense sun exposure throughout the day.
  • Swimwear: Don’t forget your swimsuit to take advantage of the park’s beautiful beaches and refreshing waters.
  • Microfiber towel: Pack a quick-drying beach towel that’s compact and won’t weigh you down after a swim.
  • Insulated water bottle: Stay hydrated with an insulated bottle that keeps drinks cool, essential in the tropical climate.

Wildlife and Scenery in Manuel Antonio National Park

Visitors to Manuel Antonio National Park are greeted by an abundance of wildlife, making every step through this natural wonderland a new discovery. Imagine walking along lush trails and spotting vibrantly colored toucans perched amidst emerald canopies above or hearing the distinct calls of howler monkeys echoing through the forest.

The park’s diverse habitats, from coastal mangroves to dense rainforests, support an impressive variety of creatures—tiny squirrel monkeys playfully leap among branches while majestic humpback whales can be seen breaching off the coast during migration seasons.

The scenery within Manuel Antonio is equally as captivating; pristine beaches meet tropical jungle in a stunning display that has to be seen to be believed. White-faced capuchins may join you on your beachside picnic as gentle waves lap at powdery shores framed by sweeping vistas of verdant cliffs.

With unparalleled opportunities for photography and bird-watching, adventurers here find themselves immersed in one of Costa Rica’s most breathtaking landscapes. Your senses will come alive with the scents and sounds unique to these ecosystems—the perfect prelude before contemplating where you’ll stay while visiting this incredible destination.

Where to Stay in Manuel Antonio

After a thrilling day of wildlife watching and enjoying the scenery, finding a restful place to stay is essential. Manuel Antonio offers accommodations that cater to various tastes and needs, all surrounded by Costa Rica’s pristine natural beauty.

– For those who desire comfort close to the beach, Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort provides not only luxurious rooms but also direct access to two stunning beaches.

– Perched above the ocean with panoramic views, Hotel Parador Resort and Spa combines elegance with eco-friendly practices for a guilt-free luxury experience.

– If seclusion within the rainforest appeals to you, Gaia Hotel and Reserve serves as an adults-only retreat offering serene privacy with its boutique-style service.

– Families often choose Si Como No Resort & Wildlife Refuge for its kid-friendly amenities and engaging activities that keep everyone entertained while being mindful of sustainability.

– Budget-conscious travelers can look into jungle hostels or bungalows such as Hostel Plinio which offer communal atmospheres at more affordable prices without sacrificing access to local attractions.

– Those planning extended stays might consider Hotel San Bada next door to the park entrance; it’s ideal for maximizing your visit without spending time on daily commutes.

– Adventure seekers wanting a unique experience can book tree house lodgings like Tulemar Bungalows & Villas where one can sleep amidst the canopy level of the forest.

– Hotel Costa Verde stands out for its quirky airplane suite converted from a vintage Boeing fuselage — certainly an unforgettable way to spend your nights in Manuel Antonio!

Dining Options in Manuel Antonio

After exploring the stunning landscapes and wildlife of Manuel Antonio, you’ll likely have worked up an appetite. The area offers a variety of dining options to satisfy your hunger, from traditional local flavors to more international cuisine.

– Mountain Top Park Costa Rica boasts panoramic views accompanied by fresh seafood and local dishes that are as memorable as the scenery.

– The Gallery presents a modern dining experience with its innovative fusion menu, perfect for foodies looking for something out of the ordinary.

– Soda El Angel serves up hearty plates of comida tipica in a casual setting, where guests can enjoy authentic Costa Rican meals at very reasonable prices.

– Just outside the park gates awaits an array of food stands offering quick bites like empanadas and refreshing drinks such as cold coconut water.

– For those wanting to dine within the park premises, there’s a convenient cafeteria where visitors find simple snacks and beverages to keep energy levels high while touring.

Keep in mind that bringing food into Manuel Antonio National Park is restricted to avoid attracting wildlife. Moreover, single-use plastics are banned to help preserve this pristine environment.

Always remember it’s important to stay hydrated and energized during your adventures here!


As you consider a trip to Costa Rica, remember the unique wonders that await in Manuel Antonio National Park. With its stunning array of wildlife and idyllic beaches, the park promises unforgettable experiences.

The insights shared here ensure a smooth adventure, whether you choose guided tours or striking out on your own along the scenic trails. Revel in the knowledge that this small yet vibrant slice of biodiversity can be explored with ease all year round, though each season brings its own magic.

Immerse yourself in nature’s playground and let the splendor of Manuel Antonio inspire your next journey. Don’t just dream about it; make plans today to witness this natural masterpiece for yourself!


1. What makes Manuel Antonio National Park a must-see in Costa Rica?

Manuel Antonio National Park is known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforest, and diverse wildlife. It’s one of the best places to experience the natural beauty of Costa Rica.

2. Can I spot wildlife at Manuel Antonio National Park?

Absolutely! This park is home to monkeys, sloths, and colorful birds. Hike through Manuel Antonio’s trails and you’re likely to see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat.

3. Are there beautiful beaches inside Manuel Antonio National Park?

Yes! The park boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica like Playa Espadilla Sur that are perfect for sunbathing or a swim in the clear Pacific waters.

4. Where should I stay when visiting Manuel Antonio?

You’ll find many hotels and resorts in Manuel Antonio offering great views of the national park and access to nearby beaches like Espadilla Sur — from luxury stays to cozy spots perfect for any trip.

5. When is the best time to visit Manuel Antonio National Park?

The park is open every day except Tuesdays, so plan your visit accordingly! The dry season from December to April offers sunny days ideal for exploring all that this breathtaking destination has on offer.

6. What are some adventure activities I can do at Manuel Antonio?

Get ready for an exciting day with activities like sea kayaking, whale watching off the coast, or hiking up Sendero Mirador trail where panoramic views await you atop!



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