Manuel Antonio National Park


Several years ago I would suggest to go to the park early in the morning when all wildlife just wakes up and starts looking for breakfast. In 2007, with, or even without a guide, you could easily spot a sloth, at least three species of monkeys, plenty of birds. The guided tour was about $20 and it definitely was worth it. 

Recently the park had a major renovation - now there are nice Broadway looking trails with railings, signs and directions. And guess what? Everything comes with a price: when we've been there in March 2018, we did not see even a white faced capuchin which before always were there in big funny companies. Maybe it was bad luck this time but it's not a news that civilization pushes out the wild life, and now all those capuchins seem to be scared out of the park and you can find a lot of them on the nearby beaches like Playa Espadilla or Playa Playitas. So if you want to see monkeys no need to pay $51 per person for an aggressively promoted guided tour, nowadays the guides with telescopes and tripods can probably just show you a couple of frogs or a spider. 

Manuel Antonio National Park

If monkeys eventually return to the park, you'll see them, no doubt about that. You still can see them everywhere else.

Well, now there are a lot of raccoons in the park (in 2007 they were shy and rare), especially by the beach, but to find those you don't need a guide: they will find you. Never leave your backpacks unattended, - Manual Antonio raccoons are incredibly smart, they have all necessary skills to deal with annoying tourists. They unzip backpacks, steal all food, money and passports. After sunset they exchange stolen passports and money in the closest restaurant for more food.

Iguanas are also there. They are very shy but curios. You definitely will spot at least one or two if you spend a few hours on the beach. One of them scared the heck out of my wife when fell from the tree in 2 feet from her.

By the way, two Manuel Antonio beaches are different from others in Costa Rica: by some reason the sand here is not that black volcanic looking as everywhere else, and the waves, if any, are gentle and smooth. There are no rocks under water and no rip currents, so compared to other places Manuel Antonio beaches are safe.

There maybe off course an occasional crocodile waiting under water for a free lunch, but relaxing swimming on a Manuel Antonio beach is still one of the Costa Rican must-dos, and we suggest you do it too. But not necessary to go there early nowadays because chances to see morning wildlife are negligible; you can simply go there after lunch and try to relax. Have some fruits, snacks and soft drinks with you because you cannot buy anything inside the park, but watch your backpacks on the beach all the time (raccoons!). There are also a couple of good hiking trails with nice ocean views from the top, definitely recommended.

To get an impression you can look at my pictures taken on several visits in 2007-2019:

Manuel Antonio National Park

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