Highlights and main attractions of Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park is a small biological reserve set on a peninsula atop an enchanting expanse of tropical rainforest, with spectacular views out to far-reaching white-sand beaches of the Central Pacific Coast. Just a three hour journey from the capital, San Jose, and one of only two spots in the country where you can see all four monkey species, it is also a great place for sloth-spotting. The smallest of Costa Rica’s nature reserves but by no means the least rewarding, Manuel Antonio offers the visitor a tantalising and unusual mix of incredible beaches lapped by crystal-clear waters, varied wildlife and one of the best spots for relaxation in natural splendor.

Once a small fishing town, Manuel Antonio soon became the centre of this region and the area is now the country’s second most visited conservation zone, spread over 1,700 acres of land and 135,000 acres of marine reserve. The centre of the town is well-established for tourism and is not an undiscovered destination. 

The beaches along this coastline are rugged and vast, making it a popular spot for surfers, and they become less busy the further you head away from Manuel Antonio town.

Where is Manuel Antonio National Park?

Wildlife and Where to explore

The green zone of the park contains a diverse array of flora, fauna and birdlife. The endangered squirrel monkey, spider monkey, howler monkey and white-faced monkey can all see be seen here, in addition to sloths, which are found inside and outside the perimeters of the national park, iguanas, agoutis. Toucan, scarlet macaws and hummingbird are just a few of the 200 bird species found here.

The Ballena Marine National Park is worthy of a visit, fantastic for visiting turtles between July and September and bottle-nosed dolphins, as well as seasonal humpback whales from August to October and December to April.

Further south of Manuel Antonio lay the smaller village communities of Matapalo, Dominical and Uvita, with little between these except for unhurried stretches of wilderness beach. 

The Si Como No Hotel has an enviable position atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and rainforest below, surrounded by tropical foliage. The remote El Parador Hotel is an award-winning hotel for its sustainable tourism activities, and sits adjacent to the idyllic Playa Biesanz. 

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