Manuel Antonio National Park in the Central-South Pacific of Costa Rica is a complete destination with breathtaking accommodations, stunning views, rainforests and wildlife at the tip of the fingers and a myriad of experiences to enjoy.
Manuel Antonio has everything that Costa Rica offers, all condensed in the surroundings of the smallest National Park in Costa Rica.
And it is quite easy to find information on the web about it; however, us, at Terranova, think that these nine essential facts will help you enjoy this magnificent place.
1. In Manuel Antonio, you can find amazing five stars resorts, small beautiful boutique hotels, and gorgeous private houses and condos… But you won’t find big hotel chains.
As the region was part of the banana company and later on divided in small landholdings, hotels were built in small lots owned by locals.
By the time the travel industry turned it into a prime location, mostly all land was already taken.
2. Manuel Antonio is a destination where you can find it all that you see in the rest of Costa Rica, except a volcano.
However, you can enjoy breathtaking waterfalls, amazing river rafting, fantastic rural experiences, hot springs lost in the depth of the forest and all sea sports you can think of.
So, our recco is to step first in the area of Arenal or to get a one day tour to Poas and Irazú and then go for the beach, adventures, and leisure in Manuel Antonio.
3. Manuel Antonio National Park has healthy controls regarding the number of people that enters every day. It is easier to get in the afternoon than in the mornings. And the wildlife stays around all day long.
However, of course, the morning tours are the favorite.
If you want to do the morning tour, please ask your Terranova travel designer for us to hire one of our local partners that will help you avoid lengthy and confusing lines, especially if it is in high season.
4. Manuel Antonio National Park is better with a naturalist local guide. Although you may think that wildlife is there to be delighted, or that you will see what the guides are seeing right next to you… No.
Local guides can find the best spots, they know where the sloth is, and the trail where you might easily spot an agouti or a group of coatimundis.
Plus! They carry optical gear that is powerful enough to see the fleas in the fur of the sloth. And the most transcendent part of this: you will understand the great life system that lies before your eyes.
Plants and trees, fungi and ivies have a purpose, relations, advantages, and dangers. To better enjoy this fantastic natural history, better with a guide.
5. Manuel Antonio is usually crowded! And we are not only talking about the National Park, although it will also be crowded. But, if you are coming from November to July, prepare for lines at the park, the tours, and the restaurants.
Remember we are talking about one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica (And the World) and it is also the smallest of all National Parks.
6. Manuel Antonio National Park is also very popular among the Costa Ricans, so best if you check the Costa Rican holidays to avoid more massive crowds.
7. There are ten (10) distinct paths to hike in the Manuel Antonio National Park, extending from 1,6 to 6 miles in length, and light and easy to difficulty. The main tracks are the Main Route and the Sloth/Mangrove that runs into the core of the park driving visitants from the entrance to the Third Beach. These are the most traditional with the park’s visitors.
The side trails including those going to the waterfall, to Gemelas Beach, and Puerto Escondido, are calmer and give time to experience the peace of Manuel Antonio’s sumptuous rainforest and a higher chance to see wildlife.
6. Decisions, decisions! Staying more than two nights is a good idea
The abundance of experiences offered in the region implies, of course, that staying there for a few more nights is invariably a good idea. Manuel Antonio and its next-door-neighbor Quepos have it all! Snorkeling, sunset sailing, zip lining, rafting, rappelling, hot springs, rescue centers, and cultural encounters. In Manuel Antonio, there are so many things to do and see that you should reserve a minimum of three nights to see a bit of it barely.
8. Manuel Antonio is not for everybody. Not as laid back as other areas in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio nevertheless is not the sort of destination where you will NOT find huge 700 rooms chain hotels or even famous brands. All accommodations are pretty focused on the environment, and even in the most luxurious, you will discover strict environmental practices. Plus… The whole area is immersed in rainforests, and there are bugs. Not only mosquitoes, but it is the jungle. There will be bugs.
9. As obnoxious as the mosquitoes and bugs may be, you will be immersed in the jungle. In almost all hotels in Manuel Antonio, the rainforest and the wildlife are not only supported but welcome. You will notice in almost all accommodations, the monkeys coming to get their share of fruit and myriads of birds on perches that also have fruit for them.
In some, one, two, or even more sloths are in the surrounding trees, and macaws are a common sight and sound in the area.
To wrap it up
Manuel Antonio National Park and its surrounding region are a stunning and quite diverse destination. It is the type of place where pleasure mixes with an adventure sensation and magnificent landscapes. Where fantasies become a reality magnificently.
Please ask our travel designers to create a vacation that includes quite some time to take in the fantastic experiences, the breathtaking landscapes, and the neverending leisure of merely being there.