Located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, and only a 3 drive from San Jose, Manuel Antonio makes an excellent end to a holiday in Costa Rica. Manuel Antonio is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, but despite its size it still packs in an astonishing amount of wildlife, topped with stunning palm fringed sandy beaches.
On my visit to Manuel Antonio I took a guided tour of the park. Due to the park’s size, it doesn’t take very long to explore, however I still spotted a sloth, a troop of Central American squirrel monkeys (only found in this national park in Costa Rica), howler monkeys, spider monkeys and plenty of bird life. Having a guided is definitely worthwhile, as their eyes are trained in spotting and identifying the local wildlife, and I wouldn’t have seen half as much without him. Usually it is possible to hire a guide at the entrance to the park.
After a short walk through the park we ended up on one of the four beaches. As there is a small entrance fee for the park of $10, the beach was not overly crowded (there is a beach in front of the village of Manuel Antonio which is free, although it is not as nice). The warm Pacific waters were just what was needed after the hot, sweaty walk through the jungle.
After my quick swim I checked into the nearby Hotel Parador. This excellent hotel is the perfect place to relax and unwind, with three swimming pools (two adult only) and four restaurants. The rooms are large and comfortable, and the standard rooms have a garden view, while it possible for a supplement to have a Premium room with views across the ocean.
Although the hotel is not located directly on a beach, there is a sandy beach located just a 5 minute walk from the hotel entrance, although the steep walk back up usually takes a little longer! The nicest beaches are however to be found inside the national park. It is relatively straight forward to reach the national park from the Hotel Parador with the hotel offering 5 free shuttle buses to and from the park a day. Alternatively it is possible to arrange a taxi.
The area around Manuel Antonio also offers the possibility for many other exciting excursions, with canopy zip lining, white water rafting, ocean kayaking, sea fishing and surfing a possibility.
It is possible to add a 3 night extension onto any of our holidays to Costa Rica.