Manuel Antonio National Park is located along the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The park was created in 1972 to protect the rainforest and animals that inhabit it from private development. It also ensured locals would permanently have access to the beaches and forest. The closest town is Quepos, but the majority of hotels are located between Quepos and the park, in the community which is also known as Manuel Antonio.
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Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Costa Rica at only 1,983 hectares or 4,900 acres. The park ranges in elevation from sea level to 160 meters. It protects rainforest, beach, and mangrove habitats. There are hiking trails in the park that lead through the jungle and to one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, Playa Manuel Antonio.
Manuel Antonio is one of the best parks to visit for wildlife observation. Howler, squirrel, spider and white faced monkeys all inhabit the park. Two-toed and three-toed sloths are abundant as are raccoons, coatis, pacas, anteaters, and occasionally ocelots. There are many reptiles including crocodiles, iguanas, boa constrictors and many lizards. Over 350 bird species have been identified within the park including toucans, aracaris, various parrots and parakeets, hummingbirds, trogons and more.
Manuel Antonio National Park is managed by the Costa Rican government. The park is open from Tuesday through Sunday (closed on Mondays) from 8 AM – 4 PM. There is a ranger station at the park entrance. The fee to enter the national park is $16 per person. There are no overnight facilities within the park; however there are plenty of hotels in the Manuel Antonio area.
More about Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio is the most popular beach destination in Costa Rica. However, due to strict building regulations, most of the hotels and restaurants are spread out along the jungle lined hillside. Other than the national park and beaches, there are many activities available.
There are four main beaches in the area; Espadilla, Manuel Antonio, Playita, and Teldoros. You will find great snorkeling in the rock reefs off the islands and rocky coves that are heavily populated with various aquatic life. The easiest place and best time to go snorkeling is from December through April at Biesanz Beach.
At a glance
Region: Central Pacific Closest town: Manuel Antonio Size in hectares: 1,983 (4,900 acres) Year established: 1972 Elevation in meters: 0 – 160 (0 – 525 feet) Private managed: no Government managed: yes Rangers station: yes Overnight facilities: no Public restrooms: yes Entrance fee: $16pp Days: Tuesday – Sunday (closed on Mondays) Hours: 08:00 - 16:00 Hiking trails: yes Boat tours: no Average temperature range in Fahrenheit: 70 - 90 Average yearly precipitation in millimeters: 3,840 (151 inches) Habitat: beach, rainforest, mangrove
How to get there
From San Jose, take Rt. 27 west until you reach Rt.34. Take Rt.34 south along the coast all the way to Quepos. When you reach Quepos, bear right and drive in to town. After crossing the bridge, follow the signs to the national park.
Weather and packing list
Manuel Antonio is a jungle beach area that is usually hot and humid. Daytime highs are typically in mid-80s to low 90s and overnights lows are normally in the low to mid-70s. As it is a rainforest area, you can expect at least some rain. The area receives an average of 3,840 mm of rain per year. The driest months are typically December through April, July and August. The heaviest rains are usually during the months of September and October.
Visitors should pack a bathing suit, towel, shorts, tee shirts, appropriate shoes, rain gear, sun block, and insect repellent.
Fun Fact: Though considered the rain season, May through August are a great time to visit Manuel Antonio as the rains are generally limited to brief late afternoon showers, but prices are much lower than the rest of the year.