Manuel Antonio National Park remains the most visited national park in Costa Rica for many reasons. Scenic mountains come down to kiss the coast where beautiful coves defined by dramatic rocky outcroppings are filled with soft white sand. Tidepools appear at low tide plus monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and more make their home here living seaside in rainforest trees.
It’s also the smallest national park and well worth taking the tour with a knowledgeable guide who will show you an abundance of wildlife within the park that you’ll likely not see on your own. Your guide will carry a professional spotting scope giving you an unparalleled view into the daily lives of resident animals such as a feeding or sleeping slow moving sloth, often with a baby in tow. Typically, while strolling across the new boardwalk, you’ll see crocodiles gliding slowly below in the waters of the mangrove swamp. With intertwining branches above the water, mangroves provide safe harbor for nesting waterfowl, while their massive submerged root systems protect hatchling baby fish. Often, you’ll see families of monkeys cavorting through the forest or along the palm studded beaches. Your guide can help you take awesome close up photos through the spotting scope using your camera or smartphone.
The park restricts bringing food except fruit, or single use containers into the park, and backpacks are checked at the entrance. Within the park there is a snack bar for refreshments and water stations where you can refill your water bottles, plus bathrooms. Please note that you can no longer re-enter the national park after leaving.
After your tour, you’ll be treated to lunch at a local fresh seafood restaurant that also offers Costa Rica’s favorite dish, a “casada” comprised of beans and rice, choice of fish, meat, egg or cheese, salad, and typically has fried plantains. The restaurant overlooks the ocean and gives you the opportunity to relax after your 2 to 3 hour hike through the park.
Round trip transportation is included from your local hotel and depending on how far away it is, can take between 15 minutes to an hour each way. Whereas this tour operator has shortened the entrance wait time during peak season, the operator cannot change delays caused by park management. The park is closed on Mondays and children, five years old and younger, are free.