With the establishment of ManuelAntonio National Park in 1972, the people of Costa Rica decided to preserve, for future generations, one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse areas in the world. Although it is the country’s smallest national park, the stunning beauty and diversity of wildlife in its 683 hectares is unequaled.
Manuel Antonio contains a charming combination of rain forest, beaches and coral reefs. This beaches are the most beautiful in the country, lined with lush forest, and the snorkeling is excellent too. The forest is home for sloths, iguanas, the rare and adorable squirrel monkeys and millions of colorful little crabs. And the trail that winds around Punta Catedral affords some spectacular views. The park is easy to reach, south of the town of Quepos, and is near a good selection of hotels and restaurants.
Visiting the park, one is treated to an abundant diversity of wildlife. Cathedral Point, with its forest topped cliffs was once an island, but is now connected to the coast by a thin strip of island. This land bridge now forms the spine separating the parks two most popular beaches, Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio.
The southern facing beach, Playa Manuel Antonio, is a picturesque half mile long, white sand crescent bisecting deep green foliage to one side and a private, secluded cove to the other.
Standing with your feet dug into the sand and watching the wave crash against the rocks on either side of the lagoon, it is easy to believe that you are a thousand miles from anywhere.
Travel to the area is easy and can be done in a number of different ways. Regularly scheduled air service is available through Sansa Airlines, the flight takes 20 minutes. It is a two and a half hour or more, drive by car or bus from San Jose depending on the weather and traffic.
Direct buses leave from Tracopa Terminal at Plaza Viquez in San Jose six times a day. These are large, comfortable Mercedes buses.
If you are renting a car it is advisable to rent a 4X4 vehicle in order to be more flexible, especially if you are planning to visit different areas of the country.
The Manuel Antonio National Park entrance fee is US$16 per person. Children between 6 and 12 years old pay $5 entry fee, children under 6 are free. Park hours are 7 am. to 4 pm. Open every day from December 1st to June 30th. Open only 6 days a week from July 1st to November 30th close on Monday.
National Parks in Costa Rica:
- Manuel Antonio National Park
- Amistad International Park
- Arenal Volcano Nationak Park
- Ballena National Park
- Barbilla National Park
- Barra del Colorado National Park
- Barra Honda National Park
- Braulio Carrillo National Park
- Cabo Blanco National Park
- Cahuita National Park
- Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
- Carara National Park
- Chirripo National Park
- Coco Island National Park
- Corcovado National Park
- Curu Natural Wildlife Reserve
- Diria National Park
- Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge
- Golfito National Wildlife Refuge