Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Costa Rica, yet it is one of the smallest at only 1983 hectares. The park has a well built hiking trail, half a dozen beaches, a variety of flora/fauna, 109 species of mammals, and over 175 varieties of birds.
Matt and I took the public bus from Quepos to Manuel Antonio which was a short 25-minute ride and cost a whopping $.75 each. The town is relatively small, but it is packed with lots of eateries, bars, and tourist traps. We did a quick walk around before heading into the park which cost $18 per person.
Many people hire tour guides to tour the park at $20 per person, but Matt and I decided to explore on our own. There was a really nice wooden trail and lots of maps around so we figured we couldn’t get too lost.
We started at the top left of the map (Bahias) and followed the yellow trail to the water where we picked up the dotted pink line (Sendero Miradoras Trail). We took this new trail all the way to the left and walked until we hit the dead end. This was up many, many stairs, then down, then up and again, then down. We ended up at the top of an overlook.
The overlook, Puerto Escondido (Hidden Port) is 25 meters above sea level. During low tide you see these small bridges of sand that link the islands to the continental part of the coast.
After turning around, we took the same trail back until we got to the Sendero Congos Trail (left at the fork). Then climbed to the Sendero Puerto Escondido Trail which led to a nice beach. We back tracked again and found ourselves on the Sendero Playa Gemelas Trail which led us back to the yellow line below.
We landed at Gemelas Beach which is divided into two by a rock formation. The waters from the creek merged with the sea currents have given life to the twin beaches providing a sanctuary for many sea and wild life.
Instead of leaving the park, we took the Sendero Playa Manuel Antonio Trail to Punta Catedral and eventually out the Sendero Perezoso Trail.
At first, we were a little put out that it was so expensive to enter the park. But as we walked through it and saw how well maintained the trails were, we understood the cost. If you weren’t walking on a nice wooden plank trail, you were on cement, or a very well maintained dirt road. Check out the funny sign I posed with below.
There were these really strange prickly things growing on some of the uber tall trees. At first, I thought it looked like fur, but up close, they are strong, sharp, needles growing out of the trunks.
At the end of our trail we ended on the most popular beach in the park. Most of the tourists stop to admire the monkeys and enjoy the beach. There was a tourist eating a banana that attracted a funny pair of monkeys – they entertained us all.
We saw this really odd looking critter – cross between a rat and rabbit.. Never did find out their name – can you help?
We also, did not get to see the howler monkey, but we heard them throughout our adventures.
After our crazy long walk/hike we treated ourselves to a nice cold beverage. As we cooled down, a light rain started. We decided to catch the bus back so we did not get stuck in the pending downpour.
As we were waiting for the bus, my phone rang, it was a friend of ours from Texas, Tom Faulk. He mentioned he would be in Costa Rica, but we did not nail down a meet up. As fate would have it, he was sitting at the restaurant right behind the bus stop!
We had a great day of exercise.
- Almost a 9-mile walk/hike
- Climbed the empire state building (which is 101 floors)
- Met up with some Texas friends
- Played with a lot of wildlife