One of the highlights of our one week trip to Costa Rica was our visit to Manuel Antonio National Park. This famous tourist spot has the perfect combination of interesting nature trails set in the lush Costa Rican rainforest and relaxing white sand beaches. If you are looking for some sloths in Costa Rica, this is a good place to find them. You’ll also enjoy encounters with several monkeys and birds along the way.
Manuel Antonio National Park
If you enjoy being close to nature, you will certainly appreciate the walking trails in Manuel Antonio National Park. Compared to the cloud forest walk we did in Santa Elena, the trails are fairly easy. We got around wearing jandals (flip flops). They are also properly marked so it’s impossible to get lost. Embrace the rainforest ambiance and take your time to enjoy the sights as there are plenty of animals to encounter. The Los Peresozos Trail or Sloths Trail was the best area for wildlife during our visit. We saw a lot of monkeys and a couple of sloths on this trail alone. The other trails lead to a small waterfalls and to the beaches.
Wildlife: Sloths, Monkeys and Birds
To see a sloth in the wild was on top of my Costa Rica to-do list. Manuel Antonio National Park deserves five stars for sloth spotting (If there is such a thing). We saw five sloths in different parts of the park. Five! I was happy enough to have seen one sleeping at first then we saw a few more along the way. They are so adorable!
We’ve seen a quite few monkeys in the wild in Central America, and we’ve always adored these animals. From the tiny squirrel monkeys to white faced capuchins and cute cuddling howler monkeys, you’ll find these animals easily in Manuel Antonio.
Bird-watching is quite popular in Costa Rica. We didn’t spot that many birds during our visit but we saw a toucan and a hummingbird in Manuel Antonio National Park.
If you are wondering if you need a guide to see animals, the answer is no. It’s a popular place and the large number of tourists actually help with wildlife spotting – if you see a big crowd looking in the trees you know there’s something to see!
The Beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park
There are several beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park and most people say these are the best in Costa Rica. Playa Manuel Antonio (playa means “beach” in Spanish) is just stunning with its fine white sand and clear blue waters. The green lush scenery around this beach is simply beautiful. This small beach cove is the perfect place for a dip after a long day of walking. Another beach you should visit is Playa Espadilla, it was quieter than the main beach when we visited but watch out for the monkeys who sometimes steal things from tourists!
Details: Park Fees, Getting Around and Where to Stay
Manuel Antonio National Park is open from 7am to 4pm daily except Monday. Entrance fee is $16 per person for foreigners (Entrance fee for Costa Rica residents is $3). Guides are about $25 per person.
Buses from Quepos, the nearest town from Manuel Antonio National Park run every 30 minutes and costs less than a dollar for each trip. The trip from Quepos to Manuel Antonio National Park takes about half an hour. You can also get a taxi, but of course this is more expensive.
There are accommodation options near the park and close to the beaches in Manuel Antonio. However, if you are only there for a few nights and looking for cheaper accommodation (and food), the nearby town of Quepos is a good place to go.
Have you been to Manuel Antonio National Park? What did you think of it? Let us know.