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How to Spend an Awesome Day in Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park attracts a huge number of tourists visiting Costa Rica, and no wonder – being one of the world’s most beautiful national park’s according to Forbes, Manuel Antonio National Park does have quite a few things to show to its visitors.

Day tour in Manuel Antonio National Park

If you are also planning a trip to the park, then let us provide you with one view of an amazing day in Manuel Antonio National Park!

Things to Know About Manuel Antonio National Park

When planning a tour to Manuel Antonio National Park, you should remember a few key points as outlined on the park’s website. You should have a look at all the info yourself, but we’ll list the key things to keep in mind below:

Open hours:

The park is open every day of the year from 7 AM to 4 PM, even on holidays, except for Mondays.

Admission fee:

The admission fee for individuals aged 12 and up is $16. Tickets may be purchased at the park entrance. Some of the Manuel Antonio National Park tours include the admission fee, so make sure to carefully read through the description of the desired tour.

Food restrictions:

No food or drinks are sold in the park, so you will have to bring your own snacks and beverages. The park allows non-alcoholic drinks, packed sandwiches, or ready-cut fruit.

Getting there:

There are multiple transport options available for tourists in Costa Rica:

  • Private transport from $160-300.
  • Semi-private shuttles for about $45-60 per person.
  • Domestic flights for $75-90. 5 daily direct flights between Quepos and San Jose usually take place.
  • Public busses from $8 to $10 per person.
  • Renting a car. It’s about a 3-hour drive from the San Jose airport or around 5 hours if you are coming from Tenorio National Park or Arenal Hanging Bridges in the north.

Some tours may also include transportation from Quepos and Manuel Antonio hotels to the national park.

Should you hire a guide for your tour?

One important thing to decide before your visit to the national park is whether to hire a guide. There’s no right or wrong in this question, but there are a few things that you should be mindful of.

The best thing about guided tours is that you do not have to struggle to find something to look at. If you aren’t a local, you most likely don’t know where to go and where to look.

Guides, on the other hand, do know (or at least should know) everything about the national park, and on a guided tour, you can be sure that you will get most out of your visit. Not only that, a passionate guide will share about Costa Rica’s plants, animals, and the national park’s history. And they will readily answer your questions too!

With that being said, you will be saving plenty of money if you decide to tour the park independently. We are talking $51 and $35 per adult and children for regular guided tours and $71 and $55 for private tours.

An excellent guide, however, will be able to make your journey a little more informative, entertaining, and also safe.

You don’t have to hire a guide, but you should do it if you want to see and learn as many things in the park as possible.

As a bottom line, consider these 2 tips when planning your day:

  • Hire a guide beforehand through the park’s website. Do not hire whoever is standing at the park’s entrance once you arrive there. The guides provided by the park are certified professionals, while the ones at the entrance are mostly random people.
  • If you choose not to hire a guide, be independent. During your tour in the park, you will probably see guided groups. You may take notes and see where they are going, but be respectful and don’t eavesdrop on them. You’ve chosen to be independent, and you should act that way.

How to Spend an Outstanding Day in The Park

Start your day early – the animals get moving with the first light, and there will more things to see earlier in the morning. There will be fewer people in the park as well, and you will also have more time ahead of you to spend in the park.

No matter whether you’ve hired a guide, spend the early hours looking for wildlife. Up until around midday, the rainforest is filled with the activity of the local wildlife. Chances are that you will spot some of the park’s most famous species like 3-toed sloths, coatis, or a few of the nearly 200 species of birds.

If you’re without a guide, steer off the wide path at the entrance and explore the trails to the left. This area is likely to have more animals and fewer people. The Sendero Perezoso (sloth trail) is particularly interesting – if you’re lucky, you will spot animals such as venomous dart frogs, toucans, and howler monkeys!

The tidy walkable paths may make it seem like the park is safer than it is. It’s the contrary – the park still is abundant with wild areas and animals, and stepping too far off the trail could get you hurt.

As the day gets close to the lunch, the majority of guided tours finish along Playa Manuel Antonio, a beach with some spectacular views of the ocean with a rocky coastline on one side and green jungles on the other. With its grandeur, this beach is very popular with people who want to have a snack or rest.

Be mindful of local monkeys – they do know that there can be plenty of food with people on the beach, and they may try to snatch some snacks and sandwiches from those unobservant.

From the beach, you may follow the signs to reach Playa Espadilla Sur boasting a more relaxing atmosphere for resting.

Around the afternoon, you may do some hiking at the Punta Catedral Point trail, a short 1-hour loop trail with scenic ocean views at the apex. This trail also reaches one remote corner of Playa Manuel Antonio where you may swim or rest. If you keep your eyes open, you may spot white-faced monkeys along the trail.

As you finish the loop and the steady afternoon heat settles, you should still have a few hours to spend at the national park’s beach. There are no chairs or umbrellas on the beach, so take care to bring a towel with you, or you may try to find a cozy spot in the sand.

And as you make your way back toward the entrance, pay attention to how contrasting the quietness of the rainforest is with the morning’s activity – the animals will be napping their way through the hot afternoon.

For more information about Manuel Antonio National Park feel free to contact us here.

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