Things to do

18 Exciting Things to Do in Manuel Antonio National Park

Things to doin Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Are you looking for some of the finest and delightful things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park? Well, Manuel Antonio National Park is probably something you’ve heard of, if you’ve ever thought about going to Costa Rica. It was Costa Rica’s most well-known national park.

The Manuel Antonio National Park, usually referred to as Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is one of Costa Rica’s most popular and smallest national parks. Manuel Antonio National Park, situated on the Central Pacific coast, was voted one of Forbes’ top national parks in the world in 2011. It is a most visited National Park.

You will arrive at the Liberia Guanacaste Airport or the San Jose International Airport to get to the Manuel Antonio Park. The distance between Liberia and Manuel Antonio is 259 kilometers, or around four and a half hours drive, or 171 kilometers from San Jose.

There is a common opinion that Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the top places in Costa Rica to view wildlife in their native settings. It should come as no surprise that this destination is a hotspot for tourists from all over the world with its abundance of stunning beaches, verdant jungle, and diverse animal life.

What is Manuel Antonio National Park Most Known For?

The Manuel Antonio National Park is well recognized as being among the top locations where visitors can observe a wide variety of species, including sloths,squirrel monkeys, and more. In addition to that, it is well-known for its stunning beaches and its user-friendly national park. Forbes named it the world’s most beautiful park in 2011.

Despite the fact that it is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio is consistently ranked as one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.

It is surrounded on all sides by a lush, beautiful rainforest that makes it easy to see wildlife, such as squirrel monkeys and sloths. It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, characterised by their pure white sand. If you’re going to Manuel Antonio National Park with family or friends, here are a few things to do before you go.

Best Things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park

The beautiful beaches of Manuel Antonio, which are surrounded by verdant trees, are just one of the reasons that this area is so popular with tourists. It includes many features that make Costa Rica an excellent destination, including the stunning scenery and the plentiful wildlife.

So, in this article, we’ll discuss some of the best things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park. With the help of this article, you can make the most of your visit to Manuel Antonio National Park.

1. Hike Along the Manuel Antonio Trail

One of the nicest and top best things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park located in Costa Rica is to hike along the Manuel Antonio Trail. During your visit to the Manuel Antonio region, you’ll witness a lot of wildlife, but hiking the trails in Manuel Antonio National Park will allow you to get close to many of the more lonely rainforest species. You’ll also get to see the jungle from a unique vantage point.

The primary trail within the park is a sandy path that spans a distance of 1.3 miles and is level the entire way. This path is enjoyable for hikers of any age and experience level. Our specialists recommend going to the park with an experienced naturalist guide and beginning your exploration of the trails at an early hour in order to avoid the crowds and observe a greater variety of species.

Punta Catedral, a stunning 0.9-mile loop hike of intermediate difficulty that includes steep inclines, is another slightly more challenging trail for the daring. Both Espadilla Sur Beach and Manuel Antonio Beach offer access to the route.

2. Watch the Beaches in Manuel Antonio

It takes around 30 minutes to walk from the park’s entrance to Espadilla Sur and Manuel Antonio beaches. Even though Playa Manuel Antonio is known for its stunning views, you can avoid the crowds by going to Playa Espadilla Sur, which is located further down the main highway.

Sunsets on Manuel Antonio’s beaches are breathtaking and include a wide range of vibrant colours. Activities such as sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling, and learning how to surf are extremely popular on the beaches with light sand that is located within the coastal park.

Beach View
Photo By Tim Jones / Unsplash Copyright 2023

Due to environmental constraints, the hotels in the Manuel Antonio area are not located on the beach but instead on a cliff with spectacular views. Only some hotels in Manuel Antonio offer direct beach access. Travelers can use the hotel shuttle or the public transportation system to get to the public beaches and the Manuel Antonio National Park entrance.

3. Visit The Playa Espadilla Sur

Playa Espadilla Sur is often less crowded than Playa Manuel Antonio due to the fact that reaching there involves a bit more effort in the way of additional walking. It is located on the northern side of Punta Catedral, one of the park’s most breathtaking sights.

Punta Catedra is a small headland with towering cliffs and a dense, lush forest that you’ll trek through to reach Espadilla Sur beach. You must bring your food and drink because these beaches need facilities. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to bring any food or beverages into the park with you.

The central beach in Manuel Antonio is Espadilla Beach, a great place to learn to surf. Lessons on how to surf can be reserved in advance in Manuel Antonio, or you can rent surfboards and sign up for lessons when you are there. Beginner surfers should head to the beach’s southern end during high tide since the waves there are less than those at the beach’s northern end.

4. Explore Through The Beach Playa Espadilla Norte

Playa Espadilla Norte is the most popular public beach in Manuel Antonio. It completely encompasses the entirety of the Manuel Antonio National Park and stretches southward along Espadilla. Taking a tour of the area is another top things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park.

It is the town’s closest beach to bars, restaurants, and stores. It’s another beautiful beach with numerous trees for shade, and you’ll encounter animals like iguanas even if you’re outside the national park.

Espadilla is a wonderful place for beginners to learn how to surf, so spend a beautiful sunset there or enroll in some lessons! There is parking, public restrooms, and a lifeguard, but just like the other beaches, you should be wary of the currents if you plan to swim. Spending the day at this beach with your loved ones is sure to be a memorable experience.

When the beaches in the national parks are closed, this beach is a must-see for a Costa Rican sunset even if it is more crowded with travelers than the beaches in the parks. Adventurers will find their paradise in Costa Rica, which offers various exciting activities.

5. The Main Trail

The main trail is also the busiest trail in the park, and it connects the entrance to the park with the fine-grained beaches of Manuel Antonio Beach. Travelers should be conscious of their surroundings and keep their eyes and ears attentive. Taking a walk along this trail is another one of the best things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park.

Numerous signs contain information about the species and what to look out for. Birds, land crabs, toucans, iguanas, lizards, and monkeys were among the creatures we saw. Although there was no sloth in the park, we did encounter a three-toed sloth not far from our accommodation. Coatis and raccoons may also be seen in the park.

6. Explore Through Playa Manuel Antonio

Playa Manuel Antonio is widely regarded as being among the country’s top beaches. Playa Espadilla Sur is typically less crowded than Playa Manuel Antonio since it requires a bit more effort to reach. It is located on the northern side of Punta Catedral, one of the park’s most breathtaking sights.

Punta Catedra is a small cape with towering cliffs and a dense, verdant forest that you must traverse to reach Espadilla Sur Beach. It is accessible only after a 2.2-kilometer hike through the park, but the effort and park admission is well worth it.

You’ll come across some of the park’s animals along the way, and there’s a strong possibility you’ll see iguanas, sloths, and monkeys close to the trail. The trees that line the beach are a popular hangout for monkeys. Playa Manuel Antonio is a lazy circle of white sand that envelops a serene blue bay bordered by lush flora. The tranquil water makes it excellent for both swimming and snorkelling.

7. Whale Watching Tour

Manuel Antonio National Park is a fantastic spot for whale watching. One of the top things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park is whale watching because the area’s waters are a popular stop for migratory humpback whales, who stay there for at least six months, giving the place one of the longest whale viewing seasons in the world.

Between the months of December and March, whales migrate south, and between the months of July and October, they migrate north. Plan a vacation if you wish to see these magnificent animals.

Most visitors depart from Quepos Marina on a catamaran cruise for a whale viewing experience. The migration patterns of two distinct humpback whale groups make Costa Rica an ideal location for whale watching. The enormous creature embarks on its lengthy trip in search of milder climates like those off the coast of Costa Rica when it gets too chilly in the North and the South.

After reaching the ideal temperature, whales take their time mating, reproducing, and raising their young. August through October are the prime months for whale watching in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. This is the time of year when they are most active just off the shore, and it is also the time of year when you have a greater chance of seeing them if you choose to go on a catamaran boat tour down the Pacific coast.

8. Enjoy The Sunset

Observing the sunset is one of the best things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park. After spending the day engaging in outdoor activities, what could be more fitting than a breathtaking sunset? You don’t need to leave your hotel room to unwind and enjoy the breathtaking sunset if you are staying at one of the seaside resorts.

Playa Espadilla Norte, the most well-liked beach, is an excellent place to watch the sunset, if not from the mountain. Since it isn’t part of a national park like Playa Espadilla Sur, you may catch the bus to get there in time to see the sun go down at this beach instead.

You can anticipate a lot of other people doing the same, so arrive early if you want to obtain a good place. You may grab a drink or place an order while admiring the fantastic Pacific Ocean views and the setting sun at one of the many rooftop or beachfront bars, restaurants, or cafes. The sunsets on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast are legendary, and the exceptionally breathtaking environment of Manuel Antonio makes them more beautiful.

9. Enjoy Sportfishing

Sportfishing is another most satisfactory things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park. One of the top places in the world to go sportfishing is the port city of Quepos, which is near to Manuel Antonio. Quepos is considered the unofficial Sailfish Capital due to its reputation for on-shore, offshore, and deep-sea fishing.

The marina in Quepos is home to a plethora of fishing charters, ranging from the standard to the most abundant varieties, from which you may select the one that best suits your preferences for an ideal day spent out on the water. The fishing charters are available for full- or half-day excursions.

Vast populations of tuna swim right off the coast of Costa Rica, making for world-class fishing. Of course, if you go deep enough, you can also catch billfish, sailfish, blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, and more. The Pez Vela Marina in Quepos hosts many fishing trips.

10. Explore The Beaches

There are numerous lovely beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park, including hiking trails and fauna. Manuel Antonio Beach is renowned for its breathtaking vistas and is a thirty-minute stroll from the park’s entrance.

Although this beach is beautiful, it may get quite crowded, so after seeing it, proceed to Playa Espadilla Sur for a less congested experience. The park features four main beaches, although if they’re packed, many other beaches nearby are still worth visiting.

Manuel Antonio Beach
Photo By Luiz Cent / Unsplash Copyright 2023

Numerous beaches offer hiking, scuba diving, sunbathing, surfing, snorkeling, boating, fishing, and relaxing options. In the area known as Manuel Antonio, you may find some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Costa Rica. Additionally, taking a stroll along each of the city’s beaches is one of the more peaceful activities and things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park.

Playa Espadilla Norte, a widely known open-air beach popular with locals and visitors, is Manuel Antonio’s central beach. It has bars, restaurants, and cafes and is the town’s closest beach. The other two main beaches in the park, Manuel Antonio Beach and Espadilla Sur Beach, which are renowned for their spectacular views, may be reached after a 30-minute hike from the entrance.

11. Enjoy A Nighttime Tour Of The Rainforest

One of the enjoyable things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park at night is to sign up for a nighttime tour through the rainforest if you’re searching for something exciting and scary. During this two-hour guided night walk, you will get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the grandeur of El Seibo Wildlife Refuge.

Photo By moreau tokyo / Unsplash Copyright 2023

While moving through the deep rainforest, which appears very different at night and somewhat frightening, seemingly very close around you, you will hear frogs singing and look out for nighttime animals like snakes, lizards, insects, and birds. The tickets for the evening jungle tour in Manuel Antonio are roughly $50 for adults and $35 for kids under eight.

12. Enjoy Kayaking on Damas Island

The mangrove on Damas Island is a beautiful location to spend a day taking it easy and observing the local wildlife. The most excellent way to observe wildlife is by kayaking since you can approach it closely without making much noise.

You also can ride in a motorized boat, which is a fun activity for people of older ages. Your guide will show a variety of animals, including birds, snakes, and anteaters, among other things. During our trip through Damas Mangrove in a kayak and a boat, we saw a crocodile, woodpeckers, monkeys,  iguanas, kingfishers, and herons. We also saw a mangrove boa snake.

Even while the national park is a great place to see a wide variety of animals, the mangroves itself are home to a number of different species. We strongly suggest using a kayak to explore the mangroves. It’s very peaceful, and We enjoy gently floating over the water to get near the wildlife, accompanied only by the sounds of the jungle.

13. Manuel Antonio Zip Lining

Doing Zip Lining is another one of the most exciting things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park because you get to zipline across the country’s longest one. Costa Rica is famous for its excellent zip-line experiences, and Manuel Antonio has multiple operators. If you go to Costa Rica, you really must do zip-lining at least once during your stay. El Santuario, Costa Rica’s longest zipline, is conveniently located there.

Wildlife researchers first used zip wires to travel through dense forests. Nowadays, practically anyone may go above, beneath, and through the tree canopy in the Costa Rican jungle to view the stunning flora and fauna.

Zip Lining
Photo By Perry Grone / Unsplash Copyright 2023

You will soar over the trees on a tandem zipline that is more than 4,300 feet long while rappelling down the side of the gigantic Ceiba tree. Keep an eye out for butterflies, orchids, and other animals on the walkways and platforms.

You may participate in several things for roughly 5 hours, so the cost of the zipline is not the only expense. There are a total of nine other double-anchored zip lines, one double belay rappel, six hanging bridges, and 14 tree platforms available for use, so you should have no trouble finding an activity that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The price of the trip was $90 per person, which included transportation from Manuel Antonio as well as lunch, fruit snacks, and water during the day.

14. Go For Parasailing

Going for Parasailing is another astonishing and pleasing things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park. Playa Espadilla Norte, which is close to Manuel Antonio National Park, is the ideal area to locate a trustworthy and secure parasailing trip. Furthermore, because of the location, you’ll get a front-row seat to the park’s breathtaking beauty from above, which only a few people can experience.

The cost of parasailing at Manuel Antonio is high, but it’s a terrific opportunity to see a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding landscape. Travelers can select a ride that lasts either 15 or 30 minutes. It costs roughly 85 USD for 15 minutes in the air but 140 USD for 30 minutes.

15. Enjoy Watching Monkeys

Manuel Antonio National Park features two trails ideal for you if you’re primarily interested in observing animals. The first trail is the sloth trail, which is about a kilometer long and is one of the longer ones in the park.

It winds through the rainforest for virtually the entire distance. You will enjoy going carefully along the trail while keeping your eyes peeled for large balls of fur hanging from the trees. It is assumed to be one of the most amazing and pleasing things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park.

In the end, we were able to locate a few sloths, and it was an incredible experience to view them in their natural habitat. Sendero Congos, the other trail, is where you’ll find howler monkeys. It’s a diversion shorter than the sloth trail, but it was everyone’s favourite park area.

Monkey Tour
Photo By Jamie Haughton / Unsplash Copyright 2023

Although you can hear howler monkeys from a great distance, you don’t always get to see them. More howler monkeys may be seen on this trail than anyplace else in Costa Rica, and it was fun to see them.

16. Take a Monkey Tour

Monkey tours in Manuel Antonio are a fantastic opportunity to explore the park’s abundant animals, especially given the park’s deep rainforests. It is assumed to be one of the most fantastic and pleasing things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park. These trips don’t simply focus on the Capuchin, Squirrel, and Howler Monkeys, though they are some of the most well-known monkeys.

Additionally, there is a chance to view iguanas, sloths, agoutis, and hundreds of different species of birds. Reserve your spot in advance to avoid the crowds and guarantee a position on a tour with a naturalist guide.

17. Visit The Catamaran Cruise

A catamaran cruise is one of the most romantic things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park. If you are going to miss the sunset tour or the snorkeling trip, you should go on this boat, especially if you’re going with that special someone.

In Manuel Antonio, you may choose from a wide variety of catamaran operators who provide unique itineraries and services. Imagine taking in the beauty of the spectacular sunset while floating through lush green rainforests on the deck of a 100-foot boat.

You will never forget this incredible sunset experience. The ship provides stunning views of the coast and the rainforests as it travels through the seas of Manuel Antonio National Park.

18. Wander Along The Private Beaches

After spending some time at some of the area’s better beaches, the next item on your itinerary of things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park is to search out some of the area’s more pristine beaches.

Plan the quick climb to Playa Gemelas, a little but charming beach that resembles more of a lagoon. You may enjoy the views of the magnificent Punta Catedral from this hidden gem, which is the ideal location for an intimate evening.

One of the secret beaches in Manuel Antonio to visit is Playa Biesanz. This beach, a favorite among the locals, is a deep cove with blue water that sparkles in the sunlight. It is encircled by beautiful vegetation. In addition, in contrast to the waves typically seen at other beaches, the water in Biesanz is always calm and offers excellent conditions for swimming.


We are grateful that you took the time to read our post about the most enjoyable things to do in Manuel Antonio National Park. We wish you a happy trip to this breathtaking location of Manuel Antonio.

In the adorable little town of Manuel Antonio, there are many of enjoyable things to see and do. There is no doubt that Manuel Antonio is one of the best destinations in the world to spend a holiday or get away for a wonderful weekend trip.

Everything is available there, including gorgeous beaches, breathtaking sunsets, hiking, fishing, and sightseeing. Enjoy these top Manuel Antonio attractions on your upcoming holiday.

Read more from us here.


Pooja Thakur

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