The Manuel Antonio National Park: Small in Size, Big on Biodiversity

Manuel Antonio Park

Although smallest in the country, the Manuel Antonio National Park is the most famous one in Costa Rica. What makes this park particularly stand out is that it’s located in the beach. So whether you’re an ecology enthusiast or a beach bum who simply want to meander on the sands, the Manuel Antonio National Park is for you.

This national park is bursting in vast biodiversity and wildlife, it’s no wonder they limit their visitors to only 600 a day so as to preserve the ecosystems inhabiting there. With its size of only 682 hectares, the Manuel Antonio National Park is not about to be passed as just a small park off the Pacific Coast.

Bit of History
The national park was established in the year 1972 with the people’s collective desire to preserve such abundant flora and fauna in such a compact area. A man named David Reins wote in his book that the park stil boasts of multitudes of vegetation and wildlife in 1990. It’s no wonder this rare reserve continues to be flocked by a great number of tourists.

Best Time to Go
Even if the faires weather is from November to May, it’s still recommended to come over during the rainy season to enjoy the pastures ans vegetation in the rainforests. There’s also less crowds and sweeter deals if you come during this time.

Flora and Fauna
You get to witness an abundant and very much alive marine life, biodiversity and wildlife considering the size of the Manuel Antonio National Park. Hundreds of plant & tree species inhabit this nature reserve.

Living with them are three-toed sloths, green & black grasshoppers, capuchin and the endangered squirrel monkeys, ocelots, caiman as well as hundreds of bird species only to name a very few.

The life underwater here is rich as well with sightings of offshore coral reefs, whales, dolphins and a great number of fish species. An interesting find here are ancient Pre-Columbian turtle traps buried underneath the sand and some up for display.

The Beaches in the Park
What’s beautiful about the Manuel Antonio National Park is that the beaches here are quite untouched. The almost-perfectly saturated colors of the sand and the crystal blue waters easily draw visitors to kick back, feel the warm sand beneath their feet and bask in the natural beauty surrounding them.

Four beaches are the most common ones found in the area: Playa Espadilla, Playita, Escondido and Manuel Antonio.

Preserving and preserving it good
They take ecotourism in this park very seriously. They’re known to limit their visitors to only up to 800 on weekends for them to preserve and care for the living and breathing systems here. Hotels and restaurants are only situated in the periphery of the park to maintain its natural and peaceful environment. Camping is no longer allowed as well because other tourists tend to be careless with what they use and leave behind.

The Manuel Antonio National Park maybe the smallest one in all of Costa Rica but the hearts of the people who fight to preserve this haven are big. Those who come here leave changed as they are moved by the prosperous flora and fauna who have come to know this place to be their only home.


Getting There 

You can take a 20-minute flight courtesy of Samsa Airlines or a 3-hour and half drive (or more) from San Jose via private vehicles or public transport. Catch a bus to Quepos if you’re coming from San Jose. It’s advisable to ride a 4×4 if you’re planning on driving your way there as the roads can get rugged and rough. Vehicles aren’t allowed inside Manuel Antonio National Park. Once you’re there, it’s best to be ready for the walk.


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