Day two of our Costa Rica road trip: the Manuel Antonio National Park. The town of Quepos is located 160km from San Jose on the Pacific coast, in the northern part of the Puntaneras province. This tourism-oriented town is the gateway to the Manuel Antonio National Park. Aside from its many restaurants, hotels, gift shops, bars, galleries and its vibrant nightlife scene, Quepos is also known to be one of the best places in the world for big-game sport fishing. We lodged at the Vista Serena Hostel in Quepos, and our hostel had a magnificent view. Although we only stayed there for a night, we made sure to enjoy that view by having lazy time in the hammocks and eating breakfast outside.
Just south of Quepos is the Manuel Antonio National Park. It was ranked by Forbes in 2012 as one of the world’s 12 most beautiful national parks. This park was established in 1972, and is known to be the smallest of all national parks in Costa Rica. Regardless of the size, it still attracts over 150,000 visitors per year. This can be explained by the park’s incredible white sand beaches, charming hiking trails and dense rainforest. Many outdoors activities are offered inside the park, such as hiking, sea kayaking, scuba diving, mountain biking and snorkeling. There are four main beaches in the park, the Manuel Antonio beach being the most popular one. The other three are Espadilla Sur, Playita and Teloro.
Once arrived at the park, we got sucked into a guided tour without even noticing it. Quick note to anyone driving to the entrance: if you get stopped by tour guides and you don’t want to do a tour, tell them that you are just going to enjoy a day at the Manuel Antonio beach. When the guides stopped our car to ask us whether we were going to the beach or walk around for a tour of the park, we told him we were going to do both (I guess we were too tired to figure out that this was a tourist trap). The person directly told us where to park, and requested 36$ for the entrance of the park and the tour (keep in mind, the entrance of the park is always 16$). We actually ended up enjoying the tour a lot, as the guide showed us a variety of wildlife that we definitely would not have seen without him (animals are quite hard to spot). The tour is definitely worth it but we were not so keen on one since we already had a wildlife tour in Corcovado the day before.
The Manuel Antonio National Park is home to 184 species of birds and 109 species of mammals. Among the first are parakeets, toucans, motmots, hawks and woodpeckers. Among the latter are the two-toed and three-toed sloth, four types of monkeys and the white-nosed coati. Other species include reptiles, such as various snakes and the green iguana. The most exciting thing from the tour was definitely the amount of sloths that were around. Those that know me know how much I love sloths, so I couldn’t contain my excitement when I realized that I was surrounded by them. Monkeys and coatis were also abundant in numbers. Both were obviously used to humans as they would walk and run around you and even come on the beach to steal your food! The park itself was incredibly breathtaking and the beaches were to die for. On our way back to the car we stopped for food and walked on the beach to witness one of the most incredible sunsets I had experienced in my life.