Manuel Antonio National Park
Perhaps Costa Rica’s best known and most frequented park, Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the few places along Costa Rica’s pacific coast where you’ll find white sand beaches. The park also contains several short trails, all of which are well maintained and relatively flat, so no hiking shoes are required. The trails - Punta Cathedral, La Tampa, Serrucho Point and Gemelas Escondido - remain close to the water’s edge, offering breathtaking views of the coastline and islands that make up part of the national park. As well, the trails provide easy access to the many beautiful, white sand beaches - Escondido Beach, Espadilla Sur Beach, Manuel Antonio Beach and Gemelas Beach.
The trails inside the park provide some of the best opportunities in Costa Rica to see squirrel monkeys (mono titi). Physically smaller than white-faced (capuchin), howler and spider monkeys, which are also common sightings, squirrel monkeys are now considered an endangered species and restricted to a very small territory in Costa Rica. Biologically diverse, over 100 mammals species and 150 bird species have been spotted within the park, including two-toed sloths, raccoons and white-nosed coatis. The park’s 12 islands, situated just a short distance off the coast, serve as excellent seabird sanctuaries and are an important nesting site for the brown booby.
To get to the park’s entrance, you’ll need to turn left once you reach the public beach, when coming from Quepos. It’s the first and only road/intersection there is, so you can’t miss it. Follow this road to its end, as it winds though an assortment of hotels, restaurants and gift shops. The park’s exit is located on the other side of the park, right along the beach.
Just outside the park, you’ll find several fruit stands, restaurants, souvenir shops, and an endless supply of vendors selling tours and renting equipment, i.e. kayaks, surfboards, paddle boards, etc.