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All the things You Must Know Earlier than Visiting Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park in Costa Rica

When you’ve ever thought-about a visit to Costa Rica, likelihood is you’ve heard about Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park. It was probably the most visited nationwide park in Costa Rica in 2021 and is on observe to carry the identical title for 2022. Positioned on the Pacific coast, this spectacular vacation spot boasts not solely lush rain forests however a few of the most gorgeous seashores within the nation. It’s no surprise why vacationers from all around the world flock right here. From the attractive surroundings to the plentiful wildlife, it has lots of the issues that make Costa Rica such a spectacular place to go to.

Contemplating how many individuals come right here annually, I used to be stunned at how sparse the details about Manuel Antonio was on-line. As I deliberate my go to, I took some leaps of religion and even took some Ls so that you simply don’t need to.

That is all the pieces that you must know earlier than you go to Manuel Antonio, with some insider suggestions that can assist you’ve gotten an incredible time there:

My Information to Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park

1. There are tons of hidden spots within the park.

Having Playa Gemelas utterly to myself: heaven.

I explored Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park alone, decided to traverse each path and discover each hidden spot there was. I used to be delighted to find that some trails led to some absolute gems, like Playa Gemelas. Since this small cove is on an offshoot from a most important path, far fewer folks go to in comparison with the bigger Playa Manuel Antonio and Playa Espadilla Sur.

Though Gemelas is clearly marked on the park map, it nonetheless appears like a hidden spot. Different locations the place I didn’t see a single different hiker had been the primary viewpoint, Mirador, and the howler monkey path, Sendero Congos.

2. The park is closed on Tuesdays.

The park is at all times closed for sooner or later per week. At present, it’s closed on Tuesdays, nevertheless it looks as if the day adjustments all year long. Plan your journey accordingly by double-checking right here.

On all different days, the park is open from 7am to 4pm. You should buy your ticket forward of time and point out the time you can be visiting. Tickets are about $18 USD after taxes and costs, per day. The sooner you buy your ticket, the higher likelihood you’ve gotten at getting the time slot you need, particularly if you’re visiting throughout dry season from December to April.

There’s a restrict on how many individuals can go to the nationwide park per day, though I used to be shocked to see how many individuals there have been after I was leaving round midday.

3. The sunsets are unreal.

As a result of I visited throughout wet season, I solely had one alternative to see a wonderful sundown — and boy, was it price it. All the Pacific facet of Costa Rica is legendary for its sunsets, and Manuel Antonio has particularly gorgeous surroundings that solely amplifies them.

The perfect seashore from which to look at the sundown is Playa Espadilla Norte, the most important public seashore in Manuel Antonio. It isn’t a part of the nationwide park, not like Playa Espadilla Sur, so you possibly can simply take the bus there to catch the sundown. Anticipate loads of different folks to be doing the identical, so if you wish to get a great spot, ensure that to get there early. I visited in July, when the solar was setting at 6pm every evening, and obtained to the seashore at 5pm, which was early sufficient to get a seashore chair.

4. Get to the park earlier than it opens.

I discovered shortly that timing is all the pieces in such a preferred place as Manuel Antonio. I needed to get pleasure from the fantastic thing about the park in peace, with out hoards of vacationers in massive tour teams. Since most excursions start later within the morning, round 8 or 9am, I opted to reach as quickly as I might. The park opens at 7am, so I purchased my ticket for that point.

I made a decision to take an opportunity and arrive on the gate earlier than the park opened, at 6:45am. I used to be pleasantly stunned when the guards let me go in a bit early, and I used to be the primary particular person there. The advantage of doing this was that I had a a lot better likelihood of seeing wildlife, particularly sloths. Since I used to be going with out a information, I knew that discovering them could be difficult and I would wish all the assistance I might get.

It paid off, as a result of I used to be capable of spot 4 sloths alone, together with a deer, howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, a Jesus Christ lizard, and loads of different critters. Do your self a favor and don’t hit the snooze button. Hit up Manuel Antonio very first thing within the morning for an unforgettable expertise — you received’t be dissatisfied.

5. You’ll discover some gorgeous ocean views.

The view from Mirador Isla Olocuita

All through Manuel Antonio, whether or not you’re within the nationwide park or not, there are tons of locations the place you’ll find unimaginable views of the ocean. That is because of the general hilliness of the world, so count on to climb a bit to get to those viewpoints.

My favorites had been contained in the park, the place you may get unobstructed views of Isla Luana (the island within the photograph above), the Pacific Ocean, and the plush rain forest beneath.

6. The park is completely doable with out a information.

I felt an immense quantity of strain to rent a information. Individuals informed me that there was no manner I might be capable of spot wildlife alone, and that hiring a information at a steep $60 per day was price it. Nevertheless, I trusted that attending to the park early and taking my time on the paths would give me likelihood at recognizing wildlife — and I used to be proper.

If Manuel Antonio is your solely nationwide park cease whereas in Costa Rica and you actually need to make the most of the perception that having a information presents, go for it. Since this was simply one in all many locations I might be visiting, I opted out, as a result of I heard that it was one of many best locations to identify wildlife with out one.

I additionally seen that guides who had teams had been plentiful, and each time they stopped to have a look at a sloth, monkey, or different animal, it was simple to pop over and get a search for myself. Some guides even waved me over to take a peek of their telescope to see what that they had discovered.

7. The principle seashores get tremendous crowded…

I made a decision to move to Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio after I had already traversed all the opposite trails within the park. By the point I reached this half, round 10am, there have been already many individuals on the seashore. There appeared to be actually lots of. If you wish to benefit from the seashores in Manuel Antonio with out so many crowds, both go to those two seashores very first thing within the morning, or persist with Playa Gemelas.

8 …however they’re nonetheless price it.

Regardless, Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio are completely gorgeous. Between the delicate white sand, towering cliffs, quaint enclaves, baby-blue water, and sprawling jungle behind them, these are a few of the most breathtaking seashores I noticed in Costa Rica. Even with hoards of individuals, I nonetheless discovered them to be gorgeous.

Earlier than you attain these two seashores, there’s a toilet with showers the place you possibly can change and rinse off. You received’t discover any seashore chairs or umbrellas, however there’s loads of shade from the bushes (if you may get there early sufficient to seize a shady spot). The water is pristine and ideal for a swim, with mild waves and hardly any present.

9. You can not deliver any meals into the park.

When you had been dreaming of bringing a picnic lunch to get pleasure from on the seashore in Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park, you could be dissatisfied to know that you simply can not deliver any meals right here. Guards test baggage on the entrance and can confiscate any meals objects. You possibly can deliver water and different drinks to the park — simply ensure that to go away no hint and throw your trash within the bins.

The principle motive why they don’t permit meals within the park is that they don’t need folks to feed the animals. The monkeys may even steal baggage if they’ve meals in them, which is lower than best.

10. Wet season doesn’t precisely imply fewer vacationers.

This was maybe probably the most shocking factor to me. I deliberate to go to throughout Costa Rica’s wet season, with the hope that there could be only a few vacationers. I used to be mistaken, massive time. Since a big proportion of Costa Rica’s tourism comes from the US and July is prime time for People to take holidays, Manuel Antonio was crawling with vacationers.

Because it rains virtually each afternoon throughout this season, there’s even much less time to get out and benefit from the park. Meaning much more folks packed in throughout these home windows of dry time. If I had been to go to once more, I might plan to go in March or April (avoiding spring break), earlier than faculty is out for the summer time.

11. There are monkeys all over the place.

White-faced monkeys are all over the place in Manuel Antonio, inside and out of doors the nationwide park. These little guys are surprisingly unfazed by folks and don’t precisely maintain a good distance from them. They’re pesky and like to steal meals, however they’re enjoyable to look at from afar.

Don’t, below any circumstance, feed the animals in Manuel Antonio. Their habitat tremendously advantages from them spreading the seeds of the fruits they eat within the jungle, they usually can’t do their half within the pure circle of life if people are feeding them.

12. There are particular trails for sloths and howler monkeys.

When you’re most enthusiastic about recognizing wildlife, Manuel Antonio has two trails which are excellent for you. The primary is the sloth path, which is likely one of the longest within the park and goes by way of the jungle for nearly a kilometer. I beloved strolling the path slowly, preserving my eyes open for the large balls of fur hanging within the bushes. I ended up discovering just a few sloths and was in awe to see them within the wild.

The opposite path, Sendero Congos, is for howler monkeys. It’s shorter than the sloth path and extra of a detour, nevertheless it was one in all my favourite elements of the park. Howler monkeys are simple to listen to even from distant, however you don’t at all times get to see them. This path has extra howler monkeys than I noticed anyplace else in Costa Rica, they usually had been a delight to seek out.

13. You possibly can dine in an outdated airplane and get an incredible ocean view.

Restaurante El Avión is likely one of the most unusual eating places you’ll discover anyplace, not to mention Costa Rica. The aircraft itself is from the Eighties and has an enchanting story behind it. I had breakfast right here, and the meals was first rate, however I actually went for the view, which was spectacular. The restaurant boasts probably the greatest sundown views in Manuel Antonio, however you’ll need to get there early to get a great spot, because it tends to replenish.

14. Put together for larger costs right here.

Although maybe unsurprising, contemplating Manuel Antonio’s recognition, the costs had been fairly excessive right here compared with different locations in Costa Rica, even the capital metropolis San José. Put together to pay round $15 USD for a meal, and fork out massive bucks for excursions. Excursions vary from $60 to $120, relying on the size, and lodging are exhausting to seek out below $100/evening. General, plan to spend about as a lot as you’ll at any given seashore vacation spot within the US.

15. Don’t miss out on an evening tour.

This superior jungle evening tour was the primary exercise I did upon my arrival to Manuel Antonio, and it didn’t disappoint! The tour doesn’t happen in Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park, because it closes at evening, however as a substitute goes by way of the close by Rainmaker Conservation Park. It’s a non-public park that has loads of trails you could try through the day, nevertheless it turns into additional mystical at evening when the critters come out.

Night time excursions are particularly neat, as a result of there are lots of species of frogs, snakes, spiders, and reptiles which are nocturnal and due to this fact almost unimaginable to seek out through the day. I loved trekking by way of the rainforest with my knowledgeable information, who was a professional at discovering animals after which giving us the inside track on each.

16. Transportation is a breeze in Manuel Antonio.

Whereas it’s costlier than different locations in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio is nice for backpackers as a result of there’s actually no must hire a automobile. There’s only one most important highway right here, and buses travel from Quepos to the nationwide park all day lengthy, passing each quarter-hour or so. I stayed across the midway level between the 2 and located getting round to be easy-peasy with out a automobile.

One other enormous plus for Manuel Antonio public transportation is that it’s extremely low-cost! It solely prices 300 colones ($0.45 USD) to trip the bus.

17. Top-of-the-line seashores isn’t within the park (and it’s the city’s greatest saved secret).

Now for my favourite half, the place I’ll let you know about the perfect secret spot in Manuel Antonio. Although it’s not a part of the nationwide park, you possibly can’t go to this space with out trying out Playa Biesanz. I heard folks name this place “Hidden Seaside,” and now I do know why.

Initially, to get to Biesanz, you must go by way of Shana by the Seaside Resort. Whenever you get there, you must ask for a day go, which additionally grants you entry to the resort’s pool. I believed at the present time go got here at a worth, however the safety guard gave it to me without cost, together with a ten%-off coupon for the restaurant. Contemplating {that a} chair with an umbrella on the seashore prices about $10 USD, it was a rating.

There’s a path by way of a small patch of forest to get to the seashore, on which you may be capable of spot some monkeys or different wildlife. On arriving at Playa Biesanz, you’ll see that it’s a comparatively small cove, capped with rocky overhangs on all sides. The water is tranquil and crystal-clear, excellent for a leisurely swim. I noticed a number of households right here and obtained the impression that they had been all company on the resort. Playa Biesanz is the proper place to calm down with a ebook, coconut in hand, and absorb the stellar ocean views.

18. Select your lodging properly.

When selecting your lodging on your journey to Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park, take into account how far you need to be from the park and the way you can be getting round city. In case you are counting on public transportation, go for a spot that’s near the primary highway and in Manuel Antonio (versus Quepos, which is additional away).

I stayed on this Airbnb, which utterly exceeded my expectations. I can’t think about a greater place to remain, particularly for solo feminine vacationers. My host Lorena met me on the door after I arrived and gave me a handful of tips on getting round, eating places, and different locations to take a look at. At simply $27/evening (plus charges), it was even cheaper than staying in a hostel and had a full communal kitchen and front room, plus a washer and dryer.

Different locations I might contemplate trying out are Selina (for backpackers) or Shana by the Seaside, if you happen to can splurge on a spot.

Pin me for later:

General, I’m glad that Manuel Antonio Nationwide Park was a part of my Costa Rica itinerary. Apart from the crowds and excessive costs, the park itself was nonetheless nicely price a go to, because it was really one of the magical locations. It highlights Costa Rica’s spectacular biodiversity, incredible seashores, and heat hospitality.

When you’re heading to Manuel Antonio, what are you most excited to do there?

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