When planning for our trip to Costa Rica, the top of our list on things to see included — rainforest, beaches, adventure, coffee and wildlife! It was in search of these that led us to Manuel Antonio area, primarily for the beaches and a visit to Manuel Antonio National Park.
From the San Jose airport, it was roughly a 2.5 hour car rid/trip to get to the area. We dedicated a morning for a visit to the National Park.
Our wildlife spotting started before we even reached the park. Our driver spotted a Tucan in the tree on the side of the road! Amanda was giddy with excitement to have seen one of these colorful birds! It was also truly amazing that our driver was able to spot him!
The park opens at 7AM and we chose to arrive early to try to beat the heat and the crowds. Upon entering, we were surrounded by lush greenery and the sounds of insects and birds creating a soft hum in the background as we made our way through the trail.
While Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the smallest in the country, it is one of the richest in terms of bio-diversity and mammal and bird species. We soon heard shuffling of leaves overhead and spotted this guy, a white faced monkey!
We learned that the monkeys are keen on eating palm fruits throughout the park. As we would spot the orange bunches we were hoping to see a monkey in action.
After a few trees with no success, we finally found the monkeys enjoying their breakfast. It was fascinating to watch them hang onto the bunch and eat one handed.
We then turned our attention to finding the insects. For this our guide was equipped with a telescope so we could spot them more closely. I was amazed at the skill our guide had to spot just the tiniest of insects.
It wasn’t too long before we were spying on these guys! Can you find all 3 spiders on this web?
The webs were fascinating. We learned that of the roughly 20,000 species of spiders in Costa Rica, only a handful are poisonous.
As we continued down the path, the sightings got a bit more colorful.
As we walked, we had to keep looking down to ensure we were not stepping on any insects.
While most of the trails were stone and gravel, there were some areas with nice wood planks and concrete sidewalks to walk through. This was nice to get closer to the trees for sloth spotting!
During the hike, we made sure to keep covered with long pants and insect repellent clothing from Columbia to keep the bugs away!
We again took out the telescope to find this 2-toed sloth sleeping in the tree. How is that comfortable? My arms would fall asleep!
Then it was a quick pause so we could let this guy cross the path. These are like tall, skinny versions of raccoons I have seen in America.
As we continued down the trail we noticed that the soil seemed to change color to our right…..
Turns out it was not the soil but a MASSIVE ant hill. This was by far the largest we have ever seen. It is incredible to think how many ants call this mound home!
Below is a map of the park. We chose to walk the orange path, number 15. After a little over 2 hours of walking, the trail led to the highlight of our trip…..
The ocean! Look at this gorgeous cove. It was stunning with the clear blue waters, soft white sand and lush surroundings! It didn’t take us long to jump right in and cool off from our hike.
There was even entertainment on the side of the beach as the monkeys played in the trees and sand around us!
Overall we had an active morning of wildlife sightings and a relaxing time at the beach. We would highly recommend Manuel Antonio Park during your next trip to Costa Rica. We only dedicated one morning to the park and I think on the next trip we would spend time hiking more of the trails and exploring a larger part of the coast within the park.
For us, this park is certainly worth a visit! We were happy we chose this area of the coast to explore both the wildlife and beaches. Our tour was arranged by our hotel, Arenas del Mar Resort & Spa. They made it incredibly simple to book the tour. The guide and driver met us at the hotel in the morning and was very knowledgeable throughout the park. The downside of using a guide is you have a limited number of time at the beach. We would plan to spend a full day on our own next time and see the wildlife but also have more time at the beach!