Everything to Do at Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park and the nearby town of Quepos are located on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The rich biodiversity of this area, coupled with a wealth of activities make this a destination that offers something for everyone.
Explore the 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. Because of environmental restrictions, the hotels in the Manuel Antonio area are not beachfront but set cliff-side with sweeping views. To reach the public beaches and the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park, travelers can take a public shuttle.
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 the 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.
Pass through Quepos Town.
The town of Quepos could be described as the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park. It’s just a 15-minute drive (4 1/2 miles) from Quepos to Manuel Antonio and a 25-minute drive (7 1/2 miles) from the Quepos Domestic Airport to Manuel Antonio. Quepos has a great selection of restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops. The streets of Quepos are easy to walk, with a mix of local shops, markets, and cafes. It has all the amenities of a tourism-hub, yet maintains that ineffable charm of Costa Rica with an authentic laid-back feel.
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