Enjoying the Adventure of Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park

Welcome to Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica, where you will find long stretches of sandy beaches fringed by rocky shores and steep cliffs. Venture a bit further and become acquainted with three different species of monkeys, snakes, iguanas, and bats.

Visit at the right time and you might even catch sight of a migrating whale. All of that and more represents just some of the adventure you will enjoy at Manuel Antonio National Park, the most well known park in Costa Rica.

Recognized for its astounding diversity, Manuel Antonio Park was dedicated in 1972 and has since grown to encompass 16 square kilometers. Although it is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, it is one of the most visited parks in the country, second only to Poás Volcano National Park.

What to See and Do in Manuel Antonio

If you’re planning a visit to Manuel Antonio, you will find ample options for accommodations, including the breathtaking beautiful La Mariposa Hotel, which is perched alongside the Pacific Ocean. Boasting the opportunity to enjoy unbelievingly colorful sunsets, La Mariposa is now one of many hotels dotted the ruta 618, only about three kilometers from Quepos. With free shuttle service available, you can easily enjoy the area’s stunning beaches with ease.

Playa Espadilla, a local public beach is a must see that should not be missed. Within the national park, there are also four other beaches that give you the chance to enjoy everything from swimming to parasailing to simply soaking up the sun.

Just a few blocks away from Playa Espadilla is Manuel Antonio, offering a wealth of beaches and hiking trails just waiting to be explored. Admission to enter the park is $16 USD per adult. This might seem a bit high, but the price is well worth it.

If you happen to be a bird watcher, you will definitely want to bring your binoculars, guidebooks, and arrive early to catch sight of the some 350 species that make their home in the park. Guides are also available for hire, if you wish, although you can certainly catch sight of plenty of different species on your own while exploring the park.

Boasting an impressive 16 kilometers of trails, hiking is one of the most popular activities in the park and a great way to pass the time. Along the way, you will be certain to see any number of impressive sights, including squirrel monkeys and Capuchin, which can be easily recognized by their white faces. Even if you don’t catch sight of the howler monkeys, you will certainly be able to hear them from quite a distance away.

As you tour the park, you will likely come across numerous signs asking you to “Don’t feed the animals.” As tempted as you might be to pass out some food to the animals thronging the park, remember that this policy is in place for good reason.

El Avión

Once you have spent the day trekking through the park, you will likely be in the mood for some nourishment of your own and there is no better place to refuel than El Avión. This iconic restaurant can be easily recognized by the Fairchild C-123 aircraft perched alongside the road. The aircraft is actually a twin to the infamous aircraft that was shot down in 1986 in Nicaragua by the Sandinista army.

The proprietors of the restaurant were fortunately to purchase the second aircraft, after it was abandoned at the international airport, for $3,000 in 2000. With a little overhauling, they were able to convert the aircraft into what has become one of the most famous bars and restaurants in Costa Rica.

Grab a seat in the hull of the aircraft and kick back to watch TV while sipping an icy cold beverage, or take advantage of the opportunity to climb into the cockpit, as the end to a perfect day exploring Manuel Antonio.

Enjoying the Adventure of Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park

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