Manuel Antonio National Park, North Puntarenas

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Along the central pacific coast in the North Puntarenas area of Puntarenas Province sits a Costa Rican paradise known as Manuel Antonio National Park. Its land area consists of 682 hectares (approximately 7,000 acres); however, it also has an additional 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) of marine park. It is one of the smallest and most popular national parks in Costa Rica. Visitors to Manuel Antonio can enjoy a relaxing day on one of four pristine beaches or take a hike through the vibrant, green rainforest. From tide pools alive with crustaceans to endangered monkey species to stunning scenic vistas, Manuel Antonio National Park is a spectacular vacation destination.

On the Perezoso Trail

The best trail in Manuel Antonio National Park is the Perezoso, which happens to be the main trail through the park. Along the Perezoso trail are breathtaking views of both the pacific coast and the offshore islands of the park. While the paths are easy to follow, it’s a good idea to hire a guide because there is so much to see. Certified guides who are familiar with the rainforest habitat can lead hikers to the best scenic views. They can also point out and identify native wildlife that newcomers may not be familiar with or may not even see in the forest.

Exotic Birds and Animals Abound

The protected rainforests of Manuel Antonio National Park provide a home for 350 species of birds and 109 species of mammals. Experienced guides can lead guests on hiking trips through the dense, lush forestation that is the habitat of thousands of native species. Among the birds native to the region, visitors may see Scarlet Macaws, toucans, motmots, parakeets, hawks and tanagers. Of course, the most popular animals are the various monkey species that reside in the park. White-faced Capuchin, spider and mantled howler monkeys regularly greet visitors at the park entrance (feeding them is illegal) and, once inside the park, guests may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the endangered red-backed squirrel monkey. Other commonly seen animals include both two- and three-toed sloths, coatimundis, peccaries, iguanas and armadillos as well as a host of reptile and amphibian park dwellers.

Four Beautiful Beaches

The Manuel Antonio National Park is one of only a few parks that consist of both primary and secondary rainforests as well as several attractive beaches. At various points within the park, trails branch off leading to four separate beaches: the Espadilla Sur, the Manuel Antonio, the Escondido and the Playita. Guests can enjoy swimming, snorkeling and surfing. A narrow land bridge separates the two most popular beaches with Espadilla Sur to the north and Playa Manuel Antonio to the south. The most popular of these is the Playa Manuel Antonio with its half mile of silky white sand and gorgeous offshore coral reef, making it a perfect beach for swimming and snorkeling.

Visiting Manuel Antonio National Park

The Park is located 140 kilometers from the capitol city of San Jose, 69 kilometers from the town of Jaco and 7 kilometers from the town of Quepos. Visitors can fly into San Jose or Quepos and easily get to the park by car or bus from all three locations. Keep in mind that the park is closed on Mondays and that the busiest times are during the dry season from December to April of each year. Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most beautiful and diverse locations in the central pacific coast region of Costa Rica.
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Activities in Manuel Antonio National Park, North Puntarenas