manuel antonio costa rica

Best Things to do in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park is widely considered Costa Rica’s piece de resistance.

One of the most bio-diverse parks on the planet, lush tropical forests, clear lagoons, mangrove forests and pristine white sandy beaches are all found within the boundaries of Manuel Antonio.

On any Costa Rica itinerary, at least 2-3 days in Manuel Antonio National Park is ideal. Here are four great things to do in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica on your Costa Rica family travel itinerary.

Get Out and Explore Costa Rica on Foot

Manuel Antonio has some of the best walking and hiking trails in Costa Rica. The family-friendly main trail is only about a half-mile, and perfect for little legs. Grab one of the local naturalist guides for a guided tour for the best experience, or purchase a map at the park entrance to explore more of the park’s system of well-marked trails.

manuel antonio hiking

The most popular trail is the small loop that circles around Cathedral Point, past a mangrove forest and ends with a wonderful view of the Pacific. At the end of this trail you can relax under the shade of almond and coconut trees and swim in the crystal blue waters, or continue hiking the forest trails along the coast for spectacular panoramic pacific views.

Experience a Unique National Park at the Beach

In addition to forest and mangrove ecosystems, Manuel Antonio is also famous for protected, pristine beaches. The two best beaches for families in Manual Antonio are Playa Espadilla and Playa Manuel Antonio.

manuel antonio beach

Playa Espadilla, the first and longest beach in Manuel Antonio National Park, has decent waves for surfing at its northern end and smaller waves ideal for swimming and body surfing to the south. It is often less crowded than the other beaches and is perfect for strolling at low tide, sunbathing or relaxing under the shade of the park’s trees.

Playa Manuel Antonio is one of three stunning beaches on this idyllic coastline. Snorkeling here is fantastic.

It’s all about Monkey Business in Manuel Antonio!

White-faced monkeys, Howler monkeys, and the rare, endangered Squirrel and Titi monkeys all call Manuel Antonio park home.

Also expect to spot the playful Capuchin monkeys leaping between trees and scurrying down branches in the park’s canopy. Kids will love seeing mommy monkeys carrying newborns babies on their backs.

manuel antonio monkey

Manuel Antonio National Park is home to more than 100 mammal species and a refuge in Costa Rica for several endangered monkey species.

End a Perfect Day in the Park With Costa Rica’s Best Sundowner Spot

El Avion is perhaps the best place in Costa Rica to take in a sunset over a refreshing glass of wine. This restaurant is actually built around a restored Fairchild 123 WW2 airplane.

el avion costa rica

Be sure to time your stay there for the sunset for a magical experience, and some amazing photos! In addition to drinks, El Avion Costa Rica serves up fresh Costa Rican food (guests rave about the guacamole!) and live music during peak season.

Have you been to Manuel Antonio National Park? What are your favorite things to do in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica? I’d love to hear your tips and advice for visiting this park!


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All images via Flickr.