- Beach / Seaside Resort
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Hiking / Trekking
- Sustainable Tourism
Manuel Antonio National Park is a fantastic place, offering opportunities to see many of the animal species characteristic of Costa Rica. It is also generally a very enjoyable place to tour in its own right when visiting Costa Rica. The least enjoyable part is the arrival at the park because, like all places that attract lots of tourists, there are all kinds of things designed to extract money from tourists scattered along the road.
Before you enter the park you will have the opportunity to employ the services of a guide, who will accompany you on the tour and explain things clearly to you – don't miss this opportunity! With their expert eyes and equipped with their binoculars, they will be able to spot the animals high in the tree tops for you (sloths, monkeys, etc.). I have to say that it would otherwise have been almost impossible for me to see them, even with someone pointing a finger in their general direction for me. This means that Instead of just going for a simple walk in a Costa Rican forest, you get to experience seeing various animals and insects in their natural habitat.
And once the walk is over, it's time for bathing! The water won't be particularly refreshing however: its temperature is almost 25 °C.
Throughout my trip to Costa Rica, I have never seen such a dense biodiversity in one small zone, in this case only 16km2 of park. At one point the plan was to turn the area into a luxury beach resort, but this open-air 'zoo' was lucky enough to be classed a sanctuary in 1972, thanks to its status as a National Park. To limit the impact of tourism, which is significant on this site, the park administrators decided to reduce the number of visitors to 600 a day on weekdays.
From the moment I entered the park, I saw capuchin and squirrel monkeys, racoons and sloths lazing in the trees. It's also a good idea to keep an eye on the ocean, where you'll see bottlenose and spotted dolphins as well as humpback whales that sometimes put on an unforgettable show. You'll often see iguanas and lizards wandering along the beautiful, sandy beaches. As for the beaches by the park, my favourites were Espadilla Sur and Puerto Escondida.