Made up of lush tropical forest, white-sand beaches and picturesque lagoons, it’s no wonder Manuel Antonio was voted as one of the world's most beautiful National Parks by Forbes in 2011. Small in size, rich in wildlife and easy to access, it’s one of Costa Rica’s most popular holiday spots.
Despite being one of the more developed areas of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio still retains its charm and beauty, offering a wide array of attractions perfectly suited for families and honeymooners alike. As Costa Rica’s smallest National Park, it still covers an impressive area of 1,700 hectares of protected rainforest and 136,000 acres of marine reserve, and is considered as one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet. It is home to numerous species including the red-back squirrel monkey, sloths, iguanas, various monkey species and a rainbow of exotic birds.
There are various well-marked trails throughout the park that are well maintained and fairly short. Going first thing in the morning is recommended, when there are less people and the wildlife is more active. Although it’s easy to organise independently, having the trained eyes of an expert guide and their top-range equipment guarantees a better wildlife viewing. Home to three stunningly rugged beaches, when the trails have been explored, an afternoon relaxing in the National Park is highly recommended. Playa Manuel Antonio is the most popular due to its white-sand, gentle currents and picturesque views. With bathrooms, showers and picnic tables nearby, it makes for a perfect place to spend the afternoon. To escape the crowds, head to Playa Espadilla Sur or Playa Gemelas, although with stronger currents-swimming is less likely.
Outside of the National Park, Manuel Antonio offers a myriad of adventure-packed activities from white-water rafting and zip lining to horseback riding and canopy tours. For those that simply want to relax there are a number of beaches to indulge in. With its popular demand, the area is sprinkled with a range of boutique and luxurious accommodation as well as restaurants of varying cuisines. Set in a tropical paradise with a variety of things to see and do this pocket of Costa Rica ticks all the boxes and is a fantastic destination to be explored.