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Manuel Antonio Nat'l Park

Manuel Antonio Nat'l Park

Manuel Antonio National Park, in Spanish the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, is a small National Park in the Central Pacific Conservation Area located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, just south of the city of Quepos, Puntarenas, and 132 km from the national capital of San José. Established in 1972 with an area enumerating 4,014 acres (16.24 km2) (the smallest of any Costa Rican national park), it is the destination of as many as 150,000 visitors annually and well-known for its beautiful beaches and hiking trails.


Although Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica's smallest national park, the diversity of wildlife in its 6.83 km² is unequaled with 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds. Both Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth and Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth (perezosos) are a major feature, as are three of Costa Rica's four monkey species — the Mantled Howler monkey, Central American Squirrel Monkey, and White-headed Capuchin monkey. Black Spiny-tailed Iguana, Green Iguana, Common Basilisk, White-nosed Coati and many snake and bat species are also common in the park. Included in the 184 bird species are toucans, woodpeckers, potoos, motmots, tanagers, Turkey Vulture, parakeets and hawks. Dolphins can be observed there, as well as the occasional migrating whale. Scuba diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking provide opportunities to experience the tropical wildlife that enriches Manuel Antonio.

Manuel Antonio is Costa Rica's second most visited park behind the Poás Volcano National Park which lies very close to San José, the country's largest urban area. The park's popularity has led to development of the surrounding areas, with environmental impacts to nearby forests and beaches

----Poas Volcano Nat'l Park---

----Poas Volcano Nat'l Park---

Botos Lagoon inside Poas Volcano

The Volcan Poas National Park is one of the most visited protected areas in the country. The ride there is scenic and pleasant, and since it’s only 47 kilometers away from San Jose, many local and foreign visitors flock to the park, especially on weekends. The La Paz waterfall, which is only twenty minutes away from the park, is the most photographed waterfall in all of Costa Rica. Visitors to the park won’t want to miss out on it.

There are numerous ways to reach this national park. Getting there by public bus can be both complicated and lengthy, since the bus from San Jose stops in San Pedro de Poas, which is still far (28 kms) from the volcano. Most tourists rent a car or pay a cab from San Jose, which isn’t that bad if split into four or five people. Before embarking on this trip, though, make sure that you pack a lunch, water and a hot thermos or coffee or chocolate, since there’s nowhere to eat inside the park. It’s a good idea to reach the volcano before 10 a.m., since the clouds come in and cover the natural show- the main crater.

Apart from its volcanic activity, this national park offers four different habitats; this, in a relatively small area, is evidence of Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity. The four habitats are the following: areas with scarce vegetation, a stunted forest, a cloud forest, and an area of arrayans. There are 79 species of birds in this park, including the robin, the hummingbird and the spectacular quetzal. Among the mammals found here, are the coyotes, long-tailed weasels, skunks and some small felines. If you see a green-yellow squirrel, take a good look at it, because it’s the Poas green-yellow squirrel, and as its name suggests, it’s only found in this park, and nowhere else in the whole world! One of the most interesting ecosystems present at the park, is the dwarf or stunted forest, where the tough ferns and bonsai-type trees aren’t allowed to grow much because of the acid rain that’s emanated from the volcano.

Arenal Volcano in the distance
More Top Destinations

More Top Destinations

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