The area currently known as Quepos and Manuel Antonio was originally inhabited by the indigenous Quepoa tribe. After the Spanish conquest, Quepos was used as a base by British pirates during the 1700s and then later developed as a banana export town. African palm plantations replaced the bananas after a disease destroyed the original plantations during the 1950s. From the 1960s onwards, a slow trickle of adventurous tourists began arriving to the area. In 1972, the Manuel Antonio National Park was created in order to preserve an area of natural beauty and biodiversity from development. Currently, Quepos is known as being one of the world’s best sport fishing locations and Manuel Antonio as one of the world’s most beautiful national parks.


Manuel Antonio National Park is the smallest of Costa Rica’s many national parks. Nonetheless, it protects five distinct habitats, an astonishing level of biodiversity and remarkable geographical features. Within the park you can find primary tropical forest, secondary tropical forest, mangroves, coastal vegetation and an extensive marine ecosystem. One of the most characteristic features of the park is the tombola, formed over time by sand deposits between an island and the mainland, joining them into one continuous landmass.

Wildlife enthusiasts are spoilt by the huge amount of animals to be seen in the park. Look out for white-tailed deer, agoutis, coatis, the two species of sloth and three species of monkey, including the endemic and endangered grey-crowned squirrel monkey. Around the lagoon you may see spectacled caiman, the common basilisk or ‘Jesus Christ lizard’, red-eyed tree frogs and a wide variety of snakes, bats and insects. Bird lovers can expect to see toucans, woodpeckers, potoos, motmots, tanagers, parakeets, hawks and the recently reintroduced scarlet macaw. From the viewpoints along the Punta Catedral trail, it is possible to observe dolphins, as well as the occasional migrating whale.

The trail system of the park is easy to navigate and allows visitors to visit a small waterfall, four different beaches and spectacular viewpoints. While you will find bathroom and shower facilities within the park, there are no food vendors. To make the most of your visit to the park, bring a picnic, but be careful that your food doesn’t attract the wildlife. You can bring snorkels into the park, but no large sports equipment  or alcohol is allowed inside. The entrance price for foreign visitors is $16 and the opening hours are between 7am and 4pm. From June through December the park is closed on Mondays.

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Manuel Antonio is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica. Due to it’s natural beauty, safety and the wide variety of touristic activities available, it receives over 150,000 visitors per year. Wildlife lovers, adventure seekers and surfers enjoy the fantastic weather, delicious fresh food and Tico lifestyle year-round. For those interested in learning Spanish, the friendly locals, easy-going culture and convenient location enhances their experience considerably.

There are few places in the world with such easy access to tropical beaches, spectacular waterfalls, rainforest teeming with wildlife, natural hot-springs, mangrove ecosystems, coral reefs AND a welcoming culture with modern infrastructure and facilities.