While we were at the beach we heard numerous great things about the Manuel Antonio area. It is a beautiful beach area with a large public national park.
It was about an hour drive from our condo in Jaco, so we figured we would make a day trip out of it. Luckily, someone told us that the park is closed on Mondays, or we would have not been happy as we originally planned to go on a Monday.
The drive was nice, couple beach towns, as well as many flat roads. This was easier than the mountain driving we have been doing a lot of. However, when we arrived in the area, the landscape did change as we were driving up and down the mountain. This is a large tourist early, so there were a lot of hotel/resorts and of course restaurants.
Here is a beautiful view as we are arriving in the Manuel Antonio area.
Manuel Antonio Tip – When you get closer to the National Park, you will see tons of people offering parking, some of them look like official park parking, but we recommend keep going! We almost pulled into one of the lots, but luckily we didn’t as it would have been a lot longer of a walk. We found a nice lot right on the beach, and not too far of a walk to park entrance. (Close to exit as well) Parking was $3000 colones ($6).
It was a short walk to main park entrance, don’t walk up the main gate to get your tickets, the ticket booth is 1 block away as well. We made this mistake, as did many others. We had been told not to use a guide service, as the trails are not too big. If a guide is showing a group of people something, you will be able to see it as well. We overheard a few guides and they seem knowledgeable so next time we would consider using one.
Once we got in, there is about a 1 mile long trail till you get to the beach area, we are ready to go.
We started to get a little disappointed on the walk, as we did not see much wildlife at all. On top of that that, MK was getting tired of walking and wanted to be carried, and GL wanted to get down and walk.
Once we got to the end of the first trail it was a short downhill walk to the first beach area, we were lucky to see a sloth in the tree. I was quite surprised to see how high they climb up, so high it was kinda hard to see clearly or get a really a good picture. Guides and other people had binoculars but I’d rather be able to see them a little closer.
The first beach was amazing, soft sand, greenery, mountains, etc..
The kids had a snack, walked around, and that re-energized them a little. The tide was tricky as it would come up pretty high on a big wave, that tree above that GL and I are sitting on kept us dry.
We didn’t pack our bathing suits, but we will next time. We will also pack a lunch as this is the perfect area to chill and relax.
After snack, we decided to follow another trail that runs you into another beach area. We then spotted…. THE MONKEYS!
There was a group of about 5 or 6 of them that stole some lunches from tourists on the beach. Supposedly they come around a lot during lunch time, and will go thru backpacks, bags, etc.. Feeding them is highly frowned upon in the park, but I am sure people still do and they still take a lot of lunches.
The monkeys were no more than 3 feet away. We watched them eat a sandwich, drink a juice box, and more. Here, TM has become quite the photographer with his Ipod. Also, another cool fact is the raccoons will follow the monkeys around, cause they know they will drop some food and the racoons will be there to pick it up.
After enjoying the monkeys for at least 30 minutes, we continued on our hike.
We found another great beach on the way out, this beach was not as crowded as the first beach, but just as beautiful. There were hermit crabs every where for the kids to play with. We learned if you put the hermit crab upside down on your hand they will flip themselves over and just crawl out of your hand, they are not aggressive at all.
I found a nice rock to climb on, to give all the OneYearOff.com readers a thumbs up!
As you can see, this beach was pretty empty. Just 3 little kids and their hermit crabs…
We had a little bit of a hike, and then a small walk over a little river area to get back to our parking lot. We were hesitant as sign said to beware of crocodiles. I don’t know if the tide was really low, or if that was sign was kind of a joke (literally the water was no more than 6 inches deep when we walked thru it).
We were all starving and found a restaurant right on the main strip, I think the name was Marlin. Food was overpriced and not too good, but we have learned the food overall is not too good here, and if it is in a tourist area price are going to be high.
We wanted to swim and hit the beach but it started to rain pretty hard, so we decided to get the kids ice cream and return to Jaco. They were pretty tired anyways…
Overall, we had a fabulous day, and we will return to Manuel Antonio when people visit.
A few tips we learned:
Bring extra snacks, water, or even lunch. (I am not 100% but I do not think they sell food inside the park)
Bring bathing suits, you don’t want to miss that beach.
If you want less crowds skip the main beach and head to second one. (We also only visited a small section of the park, I think there are quite a few accessible beaches)
We added a gallery with a couple more pics, I may also upload the monkey videos we recorded. TM also wanted to post some of his pics. If you have any questions about some of the pics, just post a comment below.
Till next time