Manuel Antonio National Park
This morning I saw a Facebook post that mentioned all national park entrance fees were waived for the day for National Park Day. So...guess what we did? We decided to go to Manuel Antonio National Park!
Getting to Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is located in the city of Quepos. Quepos is approximately 58 miles north of where we live in San Buenaventura. We had to make a stop in Uvita on our way, so we ended up getting to Quepos around 10am.
After getting into Quepos (downtown), you must cross over the mountain to get to the park. We figured it would take longer today due to the anticipated traffic. We thought there would be a lot of people going to the park since it was free today. However, the traffic wasn't bad. The road is one lane each way and twists and turns, but every once and awhile there is this amazing view of the ocean. Otherwise, the view is mostly hotels and restaurants for tourists.
As you get down the other side of the mountain, you run into a public beach, which is really nice (not in high tide though). The road along the beach reminded us of Myrtle Beach with people walking everywhere, bars, and souvenir shops--but here it is only a couple blocks, not miles like in SC!
After you get on the beach road, which is running parallel to the beach, you take a left hand turn. There was a guy with a sign when we got there, which helped.
Then you will start to see people trying to get you to park your car. These are not necessarily with the park, so just beware. We were able to get parking in a huge field not more than a couple blocks from the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park. It only cost us 2000 colones (less than $4).
On our way to the park, we were approached by someone asking if we'd like to take a tour. He had on a Park shirt, so we think
he was official, but you can never tell down here!
Since we weren't paying entrance fees (and we've had good tour experiences) we decided to go with a tour. The tour cost US$20 USD (12,500 colones) each person. For an additional $10, you can have a private tour.
Due to our circumstances, we did ask if the tour was strenuous/difficult and we were told it would be accommodated by the guide, as necessary.
The tour lasts approximately 1.5 hours and is well WORTH it! There are platform trails that will lead you around the park, but the tour guide was able to spot animals that we wouldn't have seen ourselves.
So if you are going to see animals, take the tour. If you're going to just enjoy a walk, nature views, and the beach--you don't need a tour.
Entering the Park
Upon entering the park, besides taking your ticket, they do check bags to make sure no unauthorized items are brought in.
Before we left, we looked to see if we could take a picnic in with us. We found that you could take sandwiches if in paper bags or Tupperware; same with chips and crackers.
However, when we arrived with our crackers in Tupperware, they were not allowed! (We did see people who must have snuck things into the park, like chips in original bags).
We figured out that we were looking at some tour company site, not the official National Park site, so make sure you find the official site---or just take empty water bottle like we did. NOTE: they do have a little stand that sells some food, but we didn't get anything but assume prices were probably high!
Our tour guide was really good--he spoke very good English and communicated the whole tour in both English and Spanish, as we had mixed languages in our tour.
He was amazing at spotting the animals--but also really knowledgeable about them also. For each animal he told us something about them, which made it that much more interesting.
The guide also carried a scope which allowed closer views of the animals---and he would use the scope to take pictures with your phone if you wanted!
He was very patient and made sure everyone heard his talk, got to look in the scope, and got pictures if they wanted.
Within the park there are three beaches; however, we only made it to two of them while we were there. But the views were spectacular; plenty of room to lay on the sand; water not too far away to walk out.
Our tour ended at beach #3 and that beach had picnic tables to sit and eat at. The monkeys hang out at this beach and along the early path to beach #2---just remember to not feed them or even eat by them; they have been know to grab food if you're close by!
On our way out, we went a different way and saw beach #2. Both beaches had bathrooms with shower stations to rinse off, which is really nice.
Plus throughout the park are water stations where you can fill a bottle for drinking--and the water doesn't taste too bad!!!
We even saw a sloth! Check out the sloth video below!
We left the park around 1ish, but stopped to do some shopping in town, so we didn't arrive home until 5pm--we were tired and exhausted, but had an AMAZING day!