Manuel Antonio National Park
The most popular national park in all of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio features breathtakingly beautiful beaches, protected coves of shimmering turquoise-coloured ocean, striking lush green forest, and an amazing array of plants and wildlife in a very small space. Encompassing 683 hectares, Manuel Antonio is one of only two locations in Costa Rica where you can see all four types of monkey; spider, howler, white-faced Capuchin, and the endangered squirrel monkey. Increasingly threatened by habitat loss, there are only 1,500 squirrel monkeys left in the wild in Costa Rica, according to the most recent census. Manuel Antonio’s trail system is extensive; the Perezoso Trail and Cathedral Point trail are the best. Wildlife most commonly spotted includes sloths, coatis, raccoons, iguanas, crabs, many species of birds, and monkeys. An exquisite coral reef, perfect for snorkelling, rests just a few meters offshore from the sparkling white-sand beaches. The Manuel Antonio, Espadilla Sur and Puerto Escondido beaches are the most easily accessed; there is also a 14-hectare lagoon and a mangrove swamp. The park as well protects 12 islands that serve as excellent refuges for several kinds of seabirds. When visiting the park, be sure to hire a guide or you won’t see half as much wildlife; also don’t forget to visit the small open-air natural-history museum and park information centre.
- Damas Mangrove Estuary: Just outside of the town of Quepos, the Damas Mangrove Estuary will captivate you with its unique mangrove forest ecosystem. You can explore this tangled labyrinth of waterways by kayak or boat. During your excursion, you may see white-faced Capuchin monkeys, caimans, crocodiles, boas, iguanas, and many varieties of birds
- Damas Caves: The Damas Caves, about 20 km north of Manuel Antonio, are dry and horizontal, making them easily accessible to tourists. The passages are full of stalactites and stalagmites and there are chambers with 30-meter-high ceilings
- Rainmaker Reserve Suspension Bridges: For those who love nature and hiking, the private Rainmaker Reserve with its dense rainforest in the Fila Chonta mountain range and its spectacular suspension bridges through the forest canopy, are an exceptional attraction
- Quepos: This small fishing town right on the coast is known for being one of the best places in the world for big game sportfishing. Travellers come from all over the world to catch marlin, sailfish, snapper, roosterfish, Amberjack, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Yellow fin and big eye tuna. The eclectic touristy town offers visitors a variety of accommodation, food and entertainment. Manuel Antonio National Park is just 7 km south. The Quepos wharf also serves as a starting point for sailing, kayaking, Jet Ski, and dolphin and whale watching trips. Adventure tours like canopy zip-lines, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, waterfall rappelling, scuba diving, parasailing and surfing are also very popular. The Quepos Airport is the quickest way to get to the Central Pacific Coast from the Central Valley, being only a 20-minute flight from San Jose
- Quepos Point: This rocky promontory with areas of forest and clear sand beaches offers spectacular viewpoints to admire the beauty of the calm blue sea. At the highest point, there are several hotels where you can enjoy extensive views of Manuel Antonio National Park and the entire coastline from Quepos northward