The Saturday City: Manuel Antonio

the beach in manuel antonioManuel Antonio is located on Costa Rica’s west coast and draws in tourists with its beaches, bars, and monkey-filled national park. Though just a little beach resort, Manuel Antonio has grown steadily more touristy over the years. Much of the reason for this is because the city sits next to Manual Antonio National Park. This national park, which helps keep development down because of zoning laws, is also the real reason to come here.

The town just south of the city of Quepos, Manuel Antonio is mostly hotels, bars, tour agencies, and restaurants. It’s also famous for being a gay-friendly area. As Costa Rica becomes a popular retirement destination, Manuel Antonio’s popularity with the older crowd has also increased. Luckily, this area has been spared the gross over-development that places like Tamarindo or Jaco have seen.

Manuel Antonio National Park sits right on the ocean and is teeming with natural wonders. It was established in 1972 and sees about 150,000 visitors annually. Here you can find lush tropical forest, three types of monkeys, land crabs, dolphins, and plenty of sea life. The monkeys are all over the park, and you are bound to come across at least one species. I was lucky to get to see all three. The howls of the howler monkey constantly fill the air, and land crabs scurry away as you stomp down on the ground. During low tide, remains of an ancient turtle trap can be seen. It’s a truly stunning and wonderful place and is just teeming with beauty. Work up a sweat with a few hikes, and then head back to the beach for a relaxing mid-day swim.

the beach in manuel antonio.

But be careful when coming back. High tide covers the walkway with water, and crocodiles come down to play from an adjoining river. It’s not safe to go through when the tide is very high. Luckily, for a few colones, a local will take you across on his boat.

After a long day in the park, pull up a chair and watch the sunset while you sip on a nice tropical drink. There’s no better way to end your day than by looking at this:
Sunset in Manuel Antonio

  1. Nature is so beautiful, the last picture is perfect. So many old people are moving to Costa Rica these days that the retirement costs there are rising.

  2. I love monkeys, I want to go! That must have been so fun.

    And now you are in boring Thailand and all that crappy thai food and mean thai people. Oh wait, that’s right, thailand is awesome and I hate you.

    Ok I can’t complain too much, but I am jealous, just a little.

  3. Hi ! First of all many thanks for your comment on my post of 08.08.08 at 08h08 at Blogtrotter, now in Kos, Greece! It was great to read you there. Second, sorry for the long delay to come here, but August was a terribly busy month, as everybody else seems to be in vacation…
    Anyhow, I found sometime now to land here and enjoy your blog. Loved to see the Paris posts; Paris in August must be wonderful… not a single Parisian there, but full of Americans & others… There is even Paris Plage… ;)))
    Great blues on this post!
    Wish you a great weekend!

  4. I don’t like monkeys, I will give this a wide berth. Unless the local restaurants serve the monkeys. It has always been a dream of mine to eat one of those simian beasts.

    That last photo is stunning.

  5. I have been to Manuel Antonio and loved it. I stayed at a hotel right on the beach and took a bus up to into the rain forest to do some repelling and zip lining.! I hated Quepos though, Which was a town I almost booked my whole trip around, not knowing what it was all about. My first lesson in traveling, dont book anything in advance!!

  6. Sara

    I love Costa Rica…and MA Park is fabulous. I especially love the howler monkeys :) This was our first stop in Costa Rica – and it was the perfect place to begin our trip.

    PS: I love your last photo!

  7. I was in M.A. about 15 years ago… back then, the beach and park was largely undiscovered by tourists. I understand that it’s now overrun with tourists.

  8. If I ever travel to Costa Rica, I’m gonna visit Manuel Antonio.

    Stevo, I don’t like your comment! How is it possible to not like monkeys?

    I agree about the photo though, amazing shot!

  9. Theresa

    Do the monkeys throw things at you? I like monkeys except for that little behavior quirk. Actually, I like monkeys from a distance. I like to keep them and, really, all animals including dogs, cats, and other household pets at arm’s length (or farther).

  10. I loved Manuel Antonio. I convinced my friend that Howler monkeys were the size of angry, rabid gorillas. I found out halfway thru the trip he was having trouble sleeping with them calling :)

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