Manuel Antonio National Park
There is no easier place in Costa Rica to see wildlife in the wild. Therefore Manuel Antonio is a very popular Park in Costa Rica with more than 400.000 visitors in 2015. The park opens in the morning at 7 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday. Nowadays limited access, 600 visitors on weekdays and 800 on weekends and holidays. It's essential to show up early.
On Weekends and during Costa Rican holiday you should avoid a visit. The Park is even closed on Mondays because of the number of people coming here on the weekend. This requires clean-up on this day. Therefore, the best days are Wednesday and Thursday. On Tuesdays, many visitors who were not able to enter on Monday may choose this day.
To beat the crowds be there early when the park opens at 7.00 a.m. As an alternative you can go late, if you visit the park in the afternoon, you may run into fewer visitors during that time. But remember that the number of visitors is limited.
Besides the tourists from all over the world, many Costa Rican school children visit Manuel Antonio. The park offers an education program for schools, organizations, and independent visitors. The focus of the program is to provide local children the opportunity to experience, the beauty and biodiversity of the most renowned National Park of Costa Rica.
Check the Costa Rican Holiday schedule to avoid too many people here.
The dry season starts in December and lasts until the end of March. The rest of the year will be the rainy season. But be aware that rainfall can happen as well during the dry months.
On average, the temperatures are always in the high twenties (Celsius) / around 80° F, Most precipitation from May to November. The driest month are January until March. On average, the warmest month is March with almost 300 hours of sunshine. September is the wettest month. This month should be avoided if you don't like too much rain, road conditions became worse and spotting animals will be challenging.
Two beaches Espadilla Sur and Manuel Antonio are located in the park. Playa Manuel Antonio is best known for its spectacular views, but if you’re looking to beat the crowds, you need to hike a bit longer to reach Playa Espadilla Sur. The light sand beaches are beautiful and are famous for relaxing, swimming, and snorkeling. There is a lifeguard program at the beach, but precaution must be taken, as riptides can occur. Be careful if you leave your valuables at the beach, monkeys, and raccoons roaming and picking at everything left unattended.
The park is also rich in wildlife, but you need to go for a hike to encounter Capuchin, Howler, and Squirrel Monkeys. On the trails, you can see more wildlife since there are fewer people and less disturbance. You can expect to see sloths, iguanas, agoutis, and hundreds of species of birds – don't forget to bring a binocular and a camera with a good zoom lens.
You may get plenty of offers for a guide at the entrance but you could go by yourself as well and will see plenty of animals.