Manuel Antonio is Costa Rica’s most popular beach town. This once tiny fishing village has developed into a mecca of adventure activity, plush resorts and eco-exploration for national and international visitors. Manuel Antonio has a great beach town flavor with street vendors, bars and restaurants as well as a jumping nightlife. The pristine beaches, hot temperatures and the famous national park all draw in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.
Between the village and the national park, there are several world-class beaches to choose from. Playa Espadilla Sur is the park’s longest beach and least crowded because the water can be rough and there are frequent rip tides. However, snorkeling is good in the tidal pools on this beach. Espadilla and Manuel Antonio beaches lie on opposite sides of a sandy strip that connects the mainland to Cathedral Point (Punta Catedral), the beaches here are better for families and swimming as they are in a protective cove.
Manuel Antonio is one of only two places in all Costa Rica where there are all four types of monkey’s are present; spider, howler, white faced as well as the famous and endangered squirrel monkey – the Mono Titi. You probably won’t have to go in search of them either; they can be spotted in and around your hotel or cabina as well as from the many restaurants in the area. Careful with these cute little critters, they love to snatch shinny objects like your watch or camera right off your beach towel. Manuel Antonio is also one of the best areas for seeing sloths, both inside the park and around the village.
It’s hard to get bored in Manuel Antonio. Select from rain forests treks, beach-combing, zip tours, horseback riding, mangrove tours, catamaran tours, snorkel or scuba diving coral reefs, mountain biking, birding, kayaking, shoot white-water rapids, ATV tours, big-game fishing, croc tours and much more. Make sure to pick up a tourist map of the area to see just how much there is to do and experience
The park is the main feature of the area, at only 3 square miles this rain forest is extremely bio dense. Apart from the abundant sloths, iguanas, agoutis and monkeys, the park also sports at least 350 species of birds. For hiking in the park, arrive early and hire a private guide at the entrance of the park. The cost for a guide is approximately $20 for a two-hour guided excursion into the rainforest. With their expert local knowledge and telescopes, you see wildlife that you’d never see on your own as well as receiving interesting facts on the wildlife.
For accommodations, check out the Si Como No – Manuel Antonio Hotel, Spa and Wildlife Refuge. This award-winning hotel spa borrows its name from the Costa Rican expression, “si como no” meaning, “sure, why not”, and is a perfect combination luxury, laid-back flavor and lush tropical surroundings.