Manuel Antonio National Park Activities

Manuel Antonio National Park is a must-include experience for any Costa Rica itinerary. As I’ve mentioned before, we came to Costa Rica to learn about and experience the jungle, an extremely different ecosystem from our home in the dry mountains of Colorado.

While we loved learning about wildlife in the jungle of Puerto Viejo, exploring the Caribbean beaches of Central America, and even hiking around the Pacure River in central Costa Rica, a walking tour of Manuel Antonio National Park was an extraordinary opportunity to see the details of the jungle the untrained eye would certainly miss.

manuel antonio national park activities

If you’re traveling to Quepos town and Manuel Antonio National Park, a guided tour of the park is well worth the investment! Here why a guided tour is one of the best Manuel Antonio National Park activities you can experience during your time in Costa Rica.

Explore Manueal Antonio with an experienced guide

The walk from the park entrance gate to the beach is roughly half a mile. The guided tour takes you slowly down the gravel path leading to the beach.

Over the course of about two hours, your guide will point out all the details of the jungle.

manuel antonio national park activities

We began by looking at several varieties of grasshoppers, spiders and even a snake. However, these creatures are all masters of disguise and would never have been visible to the untrained eye.

Our guide knows on which plants to look for specific bugs, and how to spot snakes, reptiles and bugs on leaves, high in the trees and on the jungle floor.

manuel antonio national park activities

Because walking off the path is not only discouraged but down right dangerous, the guides carry large spotting scopes which they set up quickly, with fast, expert hands so everyone in the group has a chance to view the sightings up close.

manuel antonio national park activities

Every so often people will attach themselves to your group, and while the guides tolerate this for the most part, the “hangers on” are not invited to make use of the spotting scope and end up moving on. Without the guidance of a nature expert, you simply would miss out on most of the sightings. We learned more about the jungle in these two hours than we had over the past 2 weeks living in the middle of the jungle.

manuel antonio national park activities

Our guide was excellent with kids as well, lowering the scope and making sure they had a chance to view everything as well. They also allowed us to take photos with our phone via the scope, resulting in some amazing close up nature photography!

manuel antonio national park activities

The most comfortable beach experience

The area around Manuel Antonio stays consistently hot year round. The only real differential is the humidity. Either way, it’s hot.

After walking slowly for a few hours, everyone in the group was hot and sweaty.

We arrived to an awe-inspiring sight at the Manuel Antonio beach. A perfect, protected bay with white sand and clear, flat turquoise water, it’s no wonder Trip Advisor named this the 2nd most beautiful beach in Central America.

manuel antonio national park activities

This is truly one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. And a very welcome sight after a sweaty hike through the jungle!

manuel antonio national park activities

Thankfully one of the guides went ahead to claim one of the few picnic tables at the Manuel Antonio beach. We arrived to find cold waters and fruit salad laid out over a table cloth waiting for us.

manuel antonio national park activities

As we reached the table, we were even offered cold towels to wipe our faces after the hike.

Next, for about an hour, we were given a chance to swim and enjoy the natural beauty of this beach. We floated in the bathwater-warm water, admired the scenery and watched others doing the same. Mid-morning in July, the beach was very busy. We were there on a weekend, and I’m told Manuel Antonio National Park beach is less crowded during the week, when it’s only tourists and not locals.

We gratefully accepted the towels offered to us by our guide, dried of and quickly walked back to the park gate. The return trip was a much quicker walk, as the heat of the day was approaching and we were tired by that point.

manuel antonio national park activities

Overall, booking a guided tour of the park is essential and an experience I always include in my custom Costa Rica itineraries I book for families.

Interested in booking a family vacation in Costa Rica? Contact me to learn more!

  • Kids Travel Books

    I agree. We booked one of the official guides at the gate (there are also several unofficial guides around the gate who I wouldn’t recommend). I bet people go through the park guideless thinking there aren’t too many animals there. I know there is absolutely no way I would’ve spotted 95% of the things he spotted for us.

    Great tip!