Manuel Antonio National Park is a 680-hectare national park on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Manuel Antonio is one of the most popular parks in Costa Rica.
With beautiful beaches, lush rainforest , islands in the sea, howler, capuchin and squirrel monkeys galore and all only a stones throw from the popular tourist beaches of Manuel Antonio.
In 1994, visitors were limited to 600 per day (800 on Saturday and Sunday), and the park is now closed on Monday. Consider visiting in the “green” or wet season. Litter and pollution are additional problems, particualrly at the park entrance.
Beaches and Trails
Manuel Antonio National Park has four good beaches: Espadilla Sur, Manuel Antonio, Escondido, and Playita.
The prettiest is Playa Manuel Antonio, a small crescent shaped beach of coral-white sand with a small coral reef. It’s separated from Playa Espadilla Sur by a a natural land bridge formed over eons through the accumulation of sand—tipped by Punta Catedral, an island now linked to the mainland. The hike to the top of Punta Catedral (100 meters) along a steep and sometimes muddy trail takes about an hour from Playa Espadilla Sur (also known as the Second Beach).
Manuel Antonio Information
The entrance to the park is at the eastern end of Playa Espadilla, where you wade across the shallow Río Camaronera. Rowboats are on hand at high tide, when you may otherwise be waist-deep in water.
The park is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tue.–Sunday. The $7 admission is payable at the ranger station (tel./fax 506/777-0654). There’s a small open-air natural-history museum and information center on Playa Manuel Antonio.
Theft is a major problem on the beaches. Don’t leave your possesions unattended while you swim. There’s parking by the creek near the park entrance ($2.50 ), but security is an issue. Don’t leave anything in your vehicle.
Warning: There are strong riptides on Playa Espadilla.