Did you know that Costa Rica holds 5% of the planet’s biodiveristy, yet takes up only 0.03% of its space?
Yes, you heard me right! This country has an incredibly rich ecosystem, and to protect those plants and animals, over a quarter of the country is made of national parks! 😮
Manuel Antonio National Park is one such refuge for this unique array of wildlife. This popular park lies on the Pacific coast of the country, and is well-known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. ❤
To get to Manuel Antonio from Monteverde, I first took a local bus to Puntarenas, then another local bus to Quepos, which is next to the national park. This journey took 7 hours and cost 8 USD in total.
Where to Stay:
I stayed in Quepos, next to Manuel Antonio National Park, since it has cheaper food and accommodation.
My go-to for food in Quepos was Pali grocery store, where they have cheap eats, like canned beans, pasta, and cereal.
Quepos also has a nice farmer’s market, where they sell fresh produce, and even souvenirs.
Quepos also has a nice beach, surrounded by the mountains.
My hostel in Quepos was called Pura Vida. During my visit, they had a special offer, where you stay 3 nights and get the 4th free! This meant that my dorm bed was only 6 USD/night! This included free drinking water and a free pancake breakfast.
The hostel also gave me tips on free things to do in the area. For example, one day they gave me directions to a secret waterfall that I visited with some German tourists.
Another day I went to a local hangout called Biesanz Beach, where people were swimming, paddling in kayaks, and serving up spiked tropical drinks. 🙂
As a side trip of my own, I decided just to walk around the area, where I saw lots of wildlife.
This area is absolutely teeming with colorful birds!
Heck, I even spotted this fuzzy little mammal in the local restroom.
Anyway, although those were nice activities to do on the side, the main reason I was in Quepos was to visit Manuel Antonio National Park.
Entrance Fee: The foreigner fee to enter the national park is a whopping 16 USD, which is 6X more expensive than the price for locals. I justify this cost, in the hopes that the money is being used wisely to help preserve this beautiful park. 🙂
Manuel Antonio National Park
Now you will see, the goal of this national park is to preserve the ecosystem, with minimal interference to the natural landscape.
The wildlife sightings during my visit included various unique reptiles and small mammals.
I even saw my first sloth, high up in the trees! 😮
Fun fact: Sloths are the world’s slowest mammals. They spend most of their life high in the trees, hanging upside-down below branches, so they’re less visible to predators. They also have an incredibly slow metabolism, and only come down from the trees once each week to defecate.
Another interesting find in the park were these black palm trees, which have dangerous, spiky thorns on their trunks, yet edible seeds on their branches. Not sure how anyone climbed up there safely to find that out. 🤔
The park also has four stunning beaches chock-full of crazy critters.
And by crazy critters, I’m not talking about the crabs either! I mean the gangs of loco monkeys running amok all over the beach. Hah! During my short visit, I watched a monkey steal a cellphone out of a backpack, a loaf of bread from a cooler, and even a banana out of a small child’s hand! 😮
Just look at this little crapper try to steal the sunglasses off my face! 😮
At that point, I was sweaty and exhausted, so I decided to leave. At the exit, the locals were savvy enough to have this waiting for me and other tired tourists to enjoy. 😀
After that, I ended my visit by taking a stroll through the surrounding area of Manuel Antonio, home to posh hotels and villas, with incredible views of the coastline. ❤
Anyway, that wraps up my time in Manuel Antonio. Up next I’ll be exploring the urban capital of San Jose. Stay tuned to hear all about it. Until then! 😀