Manuel Antonio National Park
This Costa Rica National Park is just south of the small quaint Costa rica town of Quepos on the Central Pacific Coast. It's a 4 hour drive from Costa Rica capital San Jose (275 kms), 1 hour south of the famous surfing beach of Jaco. Its secluded white sand beaches, breathtaking views and dramatic rocky headlands make it one of the most alluring National Parks in Costa Rica.
The principal habitat is made up of primary forest, secondary forest, mangrove swamps, lagoons and beach vegetation. There is an huge variety of Costa Rica fauna with 138 species of trees, over 109 species of mammals and 353 species of birds. A true testament to this Costa Rica area's rich ecological diversity. The national park includes 12 little isles just off the Pacific coast where you can observe a number of dolphins and, depending on the season, migrating whales.
With the establishment of Manuel Antonio National Park in 1972, the residents of Costa Rica decided to preserve, for future generations, one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse areas in the world. Although it is the country's smallest National Park, the stunning beauty and diversity of wildlife within its 683 hectares is incomparable.
Manuel Antonio contains a charming combination of rain forest, beaches and coral reefs. The beaches are the most beautiful in the country, lined with lush forest. The forest is home for many sloths, iguanas, the rare and adorable (Titi) squirrel monkeys and millions of colorful little crabs. The trail that winds around Punta Catedral affords some spectacular views. The park is easy to reach, south of the town of Quepos, and is near a big selection of hotels and restaurants.
Visiting the national park, one is treated to an abundant diversity of Costa Rica wildlife. Cathedral Point, with its forest topped cliffs was once an island, but is now connected to the coast by a thin strip of island. This land bridge now forms the spine separating the park's two most popular beaches, Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio beach. The southern beach, Playa Manuel Antonio beach, is a picturesque half mile long white sand beach surrounded by rustling palm trees creating your private, secluded part of paradise.
Hiking, bird-watching, swimming and snorkeling are all popular pursuits in Manuel Antonio National Park. Other activities in the Quepos area include white-water rafting, sea kayaking, SCUBA diving, mountain biking and waterfall tours, to name a few. Quepos is also a sportfishing mecca that boasts an abundance of sailfish, marlin, yellow fin tuna, dorado, wahoo and amberjack. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy boat tours of Isla Damas, a mangrove swamp just north of Quepos.
Getting to Manuel Antonio National Park & Quepos
Travel to the area is easy and can be done in a number of different ways. Regularly scheduled air service is available through Sansa Airlines. The flight takes 20 minutes. It is a three and a half hour or more, drive by car or bus from San Jose depending on the weather and traffic.
Direct buses leave from the Coca Cola bus terminal in San Jose three times a day for aprox. $5 . These are large, comfortable Mercedes buses.
If you are renting a car it is advisable to rent a 4X4 vehicle because certain sections of the road can be difficult but have been greatly improved in the last few years. Some of the bridges can be a bit scary looking, but it doesn't seem to stop the large flow of visitors.
Bus service between Quepos' main terminal and the National Park departs every half hour from 5 am. till 10 pm. And is less than $0.40.
The Manuel Antonio National Park entrance fee is US$7 per person. Children under 12 free. Locals do get a break on the entrance fee. Hours: 7am. to 4pm.
Take note: The Park is Closed on Monday.
Quepos/Manuel Antonio, the little slice of paradise.