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Manuel Antonio
Travel Guide


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The village of Manuel Antonio bears the same name as the national park it provides access to. Manuel Antonio National Park is located on Costa Rica’s central Pacific Coast, and although it is one of the smallest national parks in the country, it is the most visited due to the huge concentration of plant and animal life in such a tiny area. Considered a jewel of the Pacific Ocean, this minute enclave boasts rugged rainforests and jungles, pristine white sandy beaches and spectacular coral reefs out beneath the surface of the crystal clear waters. A tropical paradise to be sure, Manuel Antonio National Park is easy to get to, lying only 132km away from the capital San Jose, and readily explored from the nearby town of Manuel Antonio, which many people use as a base.

Experiences around Manuel Antonio

What not to miss

As with most national parks and reserves in Costa Rica, one of the main reasons travelers come is to immerse themselves in nature and to see rare and exotic wildlife. One of the best experiences to have in Manuel Antonio is to grab your snorkel and dive deep into the Pacific waters to explore the reefs and watch the colourful tropical fish swim by. Kayak through eerie mangrove forests around the Damas Island, or get your adrenaline fix by rappelling down one of the waterfalls in the park. Take a guided tour through the jungle at night to spot some creatures that only emerge in the darkness, or zip line through the tree canopies. Of course, along the way you will be able to spot sloths, iguanas and the rare squirrel monkey in the forests, and dolphins, stingrays, sea turtles and migrating whales in the tropical waters of the bay. The beaches in this national park are a huge draw, and the two most popular beaches are Espadilla and Manuel Antonio, which are separated by a sliver of land that leads to the picturesque Punta Catedral, which juts out into the ocean.

Sea Kayak the Coast and Snorkeling Top

This Manuel Antonio tour is the perfect choice for those interested in getting wet and seeing nature! During this journey you will paddle along islands and inlets, where you can observe and admire numerous marine aviary species and their nesting grounds. Partway through your route you will stop at a beautiful hidden bay to snorkel on this secluded coastline that goes by the name of Bisanz beach. You are most likely to spot parrotfish, starfish, angelfish and if you are lucky a sea turtle or two, and discover the stunning examples of nature both above and below the ocean’s surface; from pelicans to flying fish, you can see it all!

Adrenaline Canopy Adventure Top

Explore the stunning Paso Real Rainforest nature trails, butterfly garden, snake exhibit and canopy zip-line platforms. The canopy course consists of 18 platforms, 10 zip lines, 2 rappel lines, a suspension bridge and a Tarzan swing and during your journey the guide will point out and explain the different wildlife found among the layers of virgin and secondary rainforest vegetation. You will see many flora and fauna specimens including dart frogs, toucans and titi monkeys. There is no shortage of adrenaline on this Manuel Antonio tour and after an exhilarating ride over the leafy treetops you will leave your harness behind and head off to view the butterfly garden. From caterpillars to pupas to full grown butterflies, you can admire their transformation and variety before exploring the snake exhibit where 9 different species are featured in enormous glass cages. This tour alos includes either breakfast or lunch, depending on the excursion time at the on-site restaurant.

Horseback Riding around Manuel Antonio Top

During the 40 minute drive to Londres where the tour starts your guide will give you a run down on the history of Quepos. Once you reach Londres you will set foot on a picturesque property that has bathrooms, stables, a corral and an open air waiting area. You will receive riding instructions, safety tips and practice time, before heading out to explore the rainforest. This Manuel Antonio tour allows you to discover the exotic secrets that lie within this secondary rainforest. You will ride through the mountains without reaching the mountain top highlighted by views of the valley, verdant vegetation and numerous wildlife species such as birds and reptiles. At the end of the trail there is a beautiful waterfall where you will be able to rest for about 30 minutes. You can lounge on the grass or take a swim, then return heading back the same route.

Mangrove Kayaking Isla Damas Top

Explore the wonders of the mangrove ecosystem setting out on the river Paquita facing the Damas Island and float along the soft currents under a verdant forest canopy, spotting the innumerable aviary species, snakes, anteaters and white-faced monkeys. While you silently observe this rich habitat your guide will offer explanations about the nature specimens found in this unique region.

Manuel Antonio Bird Watching Top

Located about 40 minutes from Quepos, the pristine rainforest of the district of Naranjito, is full of wildlife. During a 4 hour walk through gravel roads, cattle farms and rainforest this tour offers the perfect combination to find many species of birds. The county of Quepos-Manuel Antonio offers undoubtedly a distinctive and extraordinary experience. With more than 250 identified species, you will have fun spotting the many different kinds, colors and sizes of birds. You will enjoy this particular encounter since the birds you usually saw in books, can now actually be observed in person. Here you will have the possibility to admire birds like the Black-Mandible Toucan, White-Throated Shrike-Tanager and Short-Tailed Hawk. Tanagers, hummingbirds, birds of prey, seedeaters, thrushes, doves, trogons and many more species live in this area, where you and your guide can identify more than 70 species in one day!!!

Manuel Antonio National Park Hike Top

Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most famous National Park’s in the country due to its wide variety of flora and fauna specimens. The park itself boasts 3 different trails that vary in gradients from flat to very steep. You will be accompanied by a nature guide who is knowledgeable about all the flora and fauna you will encounter, as you take a gentle trail that is almost flat but is extremely picturesque as it loops its way through the park, making your course approximately 2 miles long. One of the highlights of this Manuel Antonio tour is that the park is home to 3 of the 4 existing monkey species in Costa Rica and both species of sloth can be found here. As if that isn’t enough, the endangered Squirrel Monkey or Titi, can almost only be found here! Halfway through the hike you will make a leisure stop at the third beach located within the National Park giving you about 20 minutes to rest on the beach or play among the waves if you choose to do so. Throughout the hike you will be able to observe sloths, birds and reptiles as well as admire orchids, butterflies and tropical trees.

Rafting Savegre River Rafting Top

The Savegre is an authentic full day adventure for the whole family, heading south for a road trip of about 1 hour to the Savegre River put-in area the route offers picturesque views of African palm plantations, teak reforestation projects, little towns, small rivers and jungle vegetation. Upon arriving at the put-in you will receive a safety talk and an opportunity to practice before getting into the river. Savegre River boasts class 3 rapids all year round as well as some class 2 rapids during the dry season and is filled with bends and turns of excitement. Maneuvering your way down some of the most thrilling rapids like Boca Diablo, the Washing Machine and the Screaming Baby rapid until you reach the end of this Manuel Antonio tour where the river waters become calm and easy, allowing you to take a closer look at birds flying overhead and colorful vegetation adorning the shoreline.

Sailing & Snorkeling on the Coast Top

The dolphin watching tour around the coast beigns on a sailing vessel at the Quepos wharf, where you will enjoy relaxation and great views of the Pacific Ocean and major islands in the area; including Olocuita and Isla Verde, that was once used by the native Quepoa Indians as a cemetery. The guides on board will provide you with information about the route and the aquatic life you may encounter on your tour. Hopefully some dolphins and maybe even stingrays, sea turtles and migrating whales. After enjoying the different islands the trimaran continues sailing to an off-coast spot near a beautiful beach called Bizans, where you will be provided with appropriate snorkeling equipment for a nice underwater experience.

Titi Canopy Zipline through the Forest Top

Imagine yourself soaring high above the jungle floor as you fly through tree tops, amongst beautiful primary and secondary forest. The zip-line is most likely unlike anything you have ever experienced! The tour consists of 12 cables and 16 platforms reaching up to 1,475 ft. You will see many flora and fauna specimens as you fly over the unspoiled tree canopy; including Titi monkeys, two and three toed sloths, poison dart frogs, iguanas and toucans. After an exhilarating ride over the verdant treetops you will disengage from your harness and head back to Manuel Antonio.

Fast Facts on Manuel Antonio

USEFUL TRAVELER INFORMATION

This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Manuel Antonio.

When to go

The best time to visit Manuel Antonio National Park is during the dry season which runs from January to April. It does get quite hot towards the end of the season, and it is the busiest time for tourism throughout these months. The rainy season runs from May to December, and this is a good time to visit the park if you prefer fewer crowds of tourists. There are limits on the numbers allowed into the park during high season, but in low season you will not have trouble gaining entrance. September and October are not ideal months to visit as there is heavy rainfall during this period.

How to get there

Visitors to Manuel Antonio can arrive by air from San Jose, via the airport located 5 minutes outside of Quepos. There are several flights a day between Quepos and San Jose. As with many destinations in Costa Rica, there are several shuttle bus companies that operate daily routes from San Jose to Manuel Antonio. You should buy your bus ticket to San Jose from Manuel Antonio well in advance as they fill up quickly.

Infrastructure

There are lots of hotels located in the nearby town of Quepos, and they are often booked out during high season, so make sure and let your travel advisor know your travel plans in advance and they can make the booking for you. Many of the hotels have beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, so you will be able to relax and take in the panoramas from the comfort of your hotel. It is very easy to get around Quepos and Manuel Antonio, as both are small villages with easy access to the beach. There are local buses and shared taxis that bring you between both towns. Beware the mosquitoes, and make sure to bring lots of insect repellant.

Tour Packages to Manuel Antonio

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