Manuel Antonio & the south Pacific
Wildlife-filled rainforest reaches down to beautiful beaches
At Manuel Antonio we enjoyed walks along the beach with a much-needed chill-out. We could watch the white-headed capuchin monkeys and the occasional toucan fly by from our room! This really was a perfect end to a perfect holiday.
Set on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, Manuel Antonio is not only the country’s smallest national park, but it’s also perhaps the most well-known. It’s famous for the beautiful beaches backed by rainforest full of wildlife. There is a very good choice of accommodation here.
If wildlife is your main focus, we’d recommend you looking at Osa Peninsula further south on this coast, but Manual Antonio is a great place for people who want a beach but also some easy-to-see wildlife. All the beach resorts south of Manuel Antonio are quieter.
- Manuel Antonio National Park: The smallest national park in Costa Rica, yet with a high density of animals and birds. It is one of the country’s last remaining natural habitats for squirrel monkeys. You can expect to see toucans, parrots as well as kingfishers and pelicans. Mammals found here include two-toed sloths, coati, agouti, and white-faced capuchins. A network of marked trails can be explored alone or with a naturalist guide.
There are 4 beaches: Espadilla Sur, Manuel Antonio, Escondito and Playita. These are among the best beaches in Costa Rica.
- Jaco: In the central Pacific coast region, Jaco is known as a surf town.
- Carara National Park: Just north of Jaco, Carara Biological Reserve has several miles of trails through primary rainforest where you might see caiman, white-faced capuchin monkeys, plus lots of birds including a large number of eye-catching scarlet macaws. In the north you can take boat trips on the Tarcoles River to view crocodiles. There are several archaeological sites in the park, dating back over 2000 years to pre-Columbian times.
- Uvita: A great, relaxed place on what is known as the ‘Costa Ballena’ (whale coast). Visiting the whale’s tail at Marino Ballena National Park is one of Uvita’s highlights. This is a stretch of land jutting out into the Pacific which looks like a whale’s tail. There are a few very gorgeous, high-end places to stay here, plus some good mid-range options.
- Osa Peninsula: Don’t forget this incredible area. See our specific page about this.