Updated: 8/8/18 | August 8th, 2018
Manuel Antonio is a picturesque area located on Costa Rica’s west coast. It lures in tourists with its pristine beaches, fun bars, and its monkey-filled national park. Located 192km from San Jose, Manuel Antonio has grown steadily more touristy over the years (and understandably so). Manuel Antonio National Park is a huge draw, bringing tourists in droves with its pristine beaches, monkeys, and other wildlife.
Manuel Antonio National Park sits right on the ocean and is teeming with natural wonders. In fact, there are over 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds in the park alone! It was established in 1972 and sees almost 400,000 visitors annually. Here you can find lush tropical forests, three types of monkeys, land crabs, dolphins, and plenty of sea life. The monkeys are literally all over the park, and you are bound to come across at least one species. 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 on the main beach in the park. 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.
Over the years, the park has become more and more crowded and the wildlife more scarce though. Since my initial visit in 2004, the town has steadily grown closer and closer to the national park with more hotels being on the edge. This has scared away a lot of the wildlife. When visiting the park now, it’s much better to go early morning before the crowds or during the off season when the tour groups are fewer. The growth hasn’t destroyed the beauty of the park but it has taken away much of the peaceful silence.
The park is open Tuesday-Sunday from 7am-4pm (it’s closed Mondays but open on holidays). Admission is 16 USD for tourists, with kids under 12 entering free.
Depending on your interests, there are a ton of other activities to see and do in Manuel Antonio that you can do if you’re planning to spend a few days. Beyond the park, you can:
- Go sportfishing
- Snorkel or scuba dive
- Take a mangrove tour
- Go horseback riding
- Learn to surf
- Try whitewater rafting
- Take a Spanish class
(For more travel tips and suggestions, you can check out my free guide to Manuel Antonio!)
While Manuel Antonio has become a bit too popular, it’s still worth a visit if you’ve never been before. The wide white sand beaches are amazing (and not too crowded), the park is a biodiversity heaven and, despite the crowds, there are still plenty of places to enjoy away from the people, and there are plenty of other activities in Manuel Antonio to keep you busy. With your day in the park complete, pull up a chair and watch the sunset while you sip on a relaxing tropical drink. There’s really no better way to end your day than by looking at one of the beautiful sunsets that happen most nights:
Book Your Trip to Manuel Antonio: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Accommodation
If you’re looking for a hostel in Manuel Antonio, use Hostelworld. If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates. (Here’s the proof.)
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. I never ever go on a trip without it. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. You should too.
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Want More Information on Manuel Antonio?
Be sure to visit our robust Manuel Antonio guide for even more planning tips!