The next stop on the Costa Rican adventure is Manuel Antonio National Park, situated right on the coast around 2.5hrs south of the capital, San Jose. We visited Manuel Antonio on our way to the final part of our stay in Costa Rica (on the Osa Peninsula, having already visiting Arenal, La Fortuna and Tortuguero) and so only spent one night in our lodge – where as always there was lots of wildlife to discover.
We managed to explore the nature, beaches and butterflies of the park on our visit in a full day which combined guided and independent exploring – including joining a 2.5hr naturalist guide lead walk.
Within the park you can choose to walk any of the well marked walking paths independently, or with a guide. There are 4 trails to follow, El Manglar Trail (Mangrove Trail), Catarata Estacional Trail (Waterfall Trail), Miradores Trail (Viewpoints Trail) and the Peresozo Trail (Sloth Trail). We followed along a couple of the trails and saw lots of wildlife, all quite tame.
This included basilisk lizards, white faced monkeys, squirrel monkeys, white nosed coati, baby green iguanas, male and female large black iguanas, an agouti and various spiders.
Following the Peresozo Trail (Sloth Trail) also ends up on the most famous beach of the park, Manuel Antonio Beach. Our walk included a stop at this beautiful white sandy bay where it was safe to swim in the Pacific waters – but not safe to leave your possessions unattended because of the lizards, racoons and agoutis. You also need to watch out for the monkeys, as they can often come close the humans looking to steal your food. Please also resist feeding the monkeys as human food and bacteria on our hands can make the monkeys really sick.
After finishing our walk, we then also headed to the Butterfly Garden for an hour or so. Again you can do guided walks, but we didn’t feel the need to this time. If butterflies aren’t your thing, then you could also do an evening frog and reptile tour.
After all of that walking and exploring we were exhausted, so followed it up with a spa treatment at the hotel to relax after a long day. A relaxing massage was definitely the perfect end to a day at Manuel Antonio.