5 Best Things to Do in Manuel Antonio National Park

October 3, 2018

Manuel Antonio is one of the top tourist destinations in Costa Rica, which comes as no surprise to those who have seen the place. With beautiful white sand beaches that have monkeys and sloths hanging from the trees to turquoise waters meeting the lush-green of the jungle, this is a must-visit stop when in Costa Rica. Home to a variety of incredible wildlife and dreamy resorts, it is no wonder why it draws such a big, and enthusiastic crowd. Manuel Antonio National Park is by far the most popular attraction for those visiting, but a variety of tours, hikes, and even treks to waterfalls will leave you with something to do every day. You definitely won’t find the time to get bored during your stay.

Manuel Antonio National Park

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This rugged rainforest is packed with white sand beaches, coral reefs, and mangrove swamplands. The national park of one of the most beautiful national parks in the world, home to 3-dozen different species of butterflies, the ever popular sloth, raccoons, crocodiles, frogs, snakes, monkeys and more; you are sure to see more than you bargained for. The park opens at 7 AM and closes at 4 PM, giving you just enough time to see everything the park has to offer in just one day if you get there early enough. Hire a guide and walk along established paths, spend the day at the beach within the park, or make your own way by exploring what the space has to offer off-trail.

Jungle Night Tours

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For those who are not scared of the dark, snakes, or spiders… this is the ideal tour for you. Take a step into the enticing midnight black of the jungle and find yourself face to face with the nocturnal creatures, large and small, that roam the rainforest in the dead of night. You won’t miss out on your chance to see vipers, tree frogs, massive spiders, crocodiles, bats, and thousands of insects crawling around the jungle. Learn from passionate tour guides about the ecosystem of the Pacific side of Costa Rica and the animals native to the area. Tour guides will also bring a pair of binoculars along with them for the journey, so you don’t miss a thing, no matter how small.

Whale Watching

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Costa Rica is fortunate enough to have a whale season that lasts for around 9 out of the 12 months of the year. From December all the way through July you can spot southern whales headed north, and from late April to early November, you can see the northern whales migrate down south. Humpback whales use the Costa Rican waters to breed and raise their young, so the chances of seeing a mother whale with her baby are high. However, the tours aren’t limited to only whales; these waters are home to different breeds of dolphins, sea turtles, and heaps of tropical fish, most of which you’re likely to spot along the way.

Whitewater Rafting

Ranging from Class III-Class V, Costa Rica is home to some of the most breathtaking rapids in Central America. Unlike the conventional “cold-water” rapids, however, Costa Rica offers comfortable, warm water rapids that make for optimal conditions to enjoy the fast-paced waters. Tours in the area take adventure seekers to the Savegre and Naranjo Rivers in the Manuel Antonio area to cruise through the local rainforests in a way that will keep your adrenaline pumping. Here’s an insider tip: the Savegre River is known for being one of the cleanest in all of Central America, paving its way through the canyons and rainforest of Manuel Antonio. It may be worth keeping that in mind when choosing where to book your excursion!

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Just off the coast of Manuel Antonio lie 12 islands, each it’s own incredible diving location. This is an activity for all travelers, whether you are PADI certified or not. Just beneath the oceans’ surface, you’ll find abundant life. These shores are home to hard and soft coral, absurd formations of volcanic rock, white tip reef sharks, angel fish, parrot fish, puffer fish, octopus, eels, sea turtles, and for those traveling in the season of December to May, there might even be the opportunity to see a giant manta ray. With optimal weather of sunshine and no clouds, water clarity is no problem at all. The ability to see dozens of feet down gives divers and snorkelers just what they set out to find, and probably quite a bit more.