National Park Manuel Antonio

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This is one of Costa Rica’s most famous National Parks and location for tourism. Costa Rica alone is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity. So know that anytime you come to visit Costa Rica, you will always be amazed by its nature, flora, and fauna.

Throughout this article, I will share personal recommendations, tips, and more based on my own experience. There are also other things for you to do while visiting Manuel Antonio; especially if you are an adrenaline addict.


This National Park is a result of the pressure from the local people for the prohibition of its former foreign owners of the usufruct of the beaches. In 1972 “Manuel Antonio Beaches National Recreation Park” is official and open to the public by law.

It has 1,953 land hectares and 25,634 marine hectares (*) under its protection; mainly consisting of forest, beaches, sea, and a 14-hectare lagoon and mangroves. Having so many different habitats of different characteristics, you can imagine the diversity of species you can find in such a place. The park protects areas of primary and secondary forests (parts of it are under a regeneration program since it used to be a point of selective extraction of timber trees), mangrove swamps, beach vegetation, and marine environments.

While walking its trails you will come across all kinds of living creatures. You will also feel the freshness the forest gives to such warm weather under the burning sun.

*: Information taken from

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As always, you want to have an early start. The sooner you get there, the fewer people; therefore, more animals you will be able to see. Peak hours for wildlife to appear is early in the morning right at sunrise and in the afternoon just before sunset. These are the two times they eat during the day and why it is more likely to see them.

I believe that there is a new trail since the last time I went. However, I highly recommend you start going all the way to the “Playas Gemelas” (or Twin Beach) and take a short break here. Maybe do some snorkeling, eat a fruit as a morning snack, have some water, enjoy the morning view, in its stillness and silence. Listening to how the jungle awakes slowly and vibrant.

Continue your hike to the furthest lookout. From here you can see Puerto Escondido. Take pictures, enjoy the view, and when you are ready, start walking back to the second lookout. Being a hot and humid climate, it is important to stay well hydrated so you don’t suffer from heatstroke or dehydration. I recommend that you bring water, fresh fruit, and some nuts.

Traveling light also helps to be able to visit the park more comfortably and without getting tired so soon.

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After going to the lookouts, it’s time to chill at the beach. You will start going back as if you were going to the main entrance, but where the roads meet, keep going straight. You will get to a restroom area, tables, and the beach. This beach is called Playa Manuel Antonio. There is also a trail to go through the corner called “Punta Diamante” and you can go to another beach which is one of Costa Rica’s best beaches; it’s called “Playa Espadilla Sur”. This is a great spot to rest, take a dip in the ocean, and relax.

For the last adventure before leaving, you can go to the waterfalls. This trail comes out of the main road on your way back to the main entrance when leaving the park. It is a nice and short walk up to the waterfall. It is quite small. I recommend you leave it for last and take advantage of the time within the park itself, the beaches, and connecting with nature.

Please have under consideration official opening hours. The opening hour is at 7:00 am and it closes at 4:00 pm. Entry fees are ₡1,600 for residents and $16 for non-residents.

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At the entrance, guards will check your bags assuring you do not bring anything that is not allowed as cigarettes, light, umbrella, picnic-basket, and others. I was able to go in with water, fresh fruit (an apple and a banana), nuts, a towel, and sunblock and repellent (both biodegradable and plant-based).

I recommend you ask beforehand what are the new regulations and what is allowed to bring with you to the park.

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PLEASE DO NOT FEED, INTERACT, NOR DISTURB the animals. It changes their natural wild behavior and its consequences are unmeasurable. Also, take care of your things at all times.

Animals don’t know their manners and they have learned to steal food and goodies from people’s bags. So please assure to watch your things at all time. This is why people have been so strict with what you bring to the park because animals have learned to open juice boxes, chips bags, and more. This affects them seriously since they are not prepared to eat industrial and processed food, breaking the balance in their nutrition and habits.

Please be a conscious visitor, think of it as if you are visiting someone else’s home; Nature’s Home. Be careful, conscious, and considerate. Observe, listen, and connect with what is happening around you. DO NOT INTERFERE. Thank you, Nature will appreciate it.

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When coming to Manuel Antonio either you are doing a full-day trip from San Jose or staying in its surroundings (Manuel Antonio, Quepos, or Dominical maybe) maybe you have a few days to do other things as well.

There are other beaches in Manuel Antonio outside the National Park such as Espadilla Norte and Playa Biezans. If you are more of an adrenaline junkie you can go Skydiving. The view is worth it. The staff is just AMAZING, and besides visiting one of the world’s greatest place you will have the experience of seeing it from the sky. I did with Sky

For a more mild experience, you can do Parasailing on Espadilla Norte.

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Other places are nearby, such as Nauyaca Falls, 4WD Tours, Horseback Riding Tours, or you can just go surfing too! A nice beach to surf nearby is Dominical, although; you can surf in Playa Espadilla Norte, Manuel Antonio’s public beach.

I hope you found this information useful and I look forward to hearing about your experience!

Live, Love & Laugh
A True Nomad - Sol Acevedo