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Central America Manuel Antonio (Costa Rica)

One of the smallest Costa Rican national parks is situated on the pacific coast not far from the Capital San José. Beautiful beaches, cliffs washed by waves, jungle, palm trees, monkeys, sloths and hords of tourists, all of that is Manuel Antonio. Each year about 145 000 people visit the park, usually after 10 am it gets really crowded! But if you enter early morning you get few hours to enjoy this small paradise, just you, the silence, the beach, the tropical forest, just you and the nature.

Beware that Manuel Antonio national park is closed on Mondays.

What here: It is worth to hire a professional guide with a telescope (about 20 USD per person). Guides could be found all around the parkinglot or at both park entrances. Only with a guide you will have the chance to spot the sloths hidden in the treetops, dangerous snakes, rare plants and tiny bats orderly suspended in the branches (picture above).
You don´t need to worry about iguanas, monkeys or coatis thought. They are everywhere! Actually, slightly after midday gangs of monkeys and coatis amuse tourist by plundering their bags in search for a snack. 
The park has few nice beaches excellent for swimming or snorcheling (the nicests but most crowded is Playa Manuel Antonio). The park amenities include toilets and showers, but if you are hungry you have to get off the park and seek food in some of the many restaurants in the village.

Where to stay: Manuel Antonio village offers many hotels, but not many budget options. It is set in a pretty bay right in front of a wide public beach Playa Espadilla and next to the park´s entrance. More hotels, bed and breakfast and some economical hostels can be found along the road that leads from Manuel Antonio to Quepos. It is a scenic road, some of the views are spectacular but there is no beach access.

Probably the best budget option in Manuel Antonio are Cabinas Piscis (very simple place to spend the night with easy access to the beach). Nice middle range hotel on the road to Quepos (no beach but 3 swimming pools) is Blue Monkey (

How to get here: With your own car or a public bus. The journey from San José takes 3 to 4 hours. You can get more conections from the nearby Quepos. Manuel Antonio national park is opened from Tuesday to Sunday, entrance fee: 10 USD.