One of the most famous national parks in Costa Rica is Manuel Antonio. With the image of being “a zoo,” not everyone likes this park. It is indeed a busy park and not always interesting, but if you go early, walk a different route than the others, and avoid the weekend you can have the park pretty well to yourself. The park is well maintained and the trails are in good shape. At the beginning of the park there is a map of the park, it may help to take a picture. But there are also plenty of signs in between to show the way. What can you see here? With a little luck, for example, you might spot a sloth, see both capuchin and howler monkeys, macaws, and find iguanas of all shapes and sizes on the beach. Manuel Antonio also has several beaches where you can relax. You can easily entertain yourself for at least 4 hours in this park.
The park is open daily, except Tuesdays, from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. and costs €16 per person. To reserve tickets you first register on their website, and then you can reserve a ticket or a tour within a certain time slot (time slot is for when you want to enter the park). A limited number of people are allowed in each day since the pandemic, so it is wise to make reservations (on time).
You can also book multiple tours or hire a guide. A guide is not necessarily necessary, but can sometimes be an added value to see animals that you might not easily find on your own.
Also good to know is that you are not allowed to bring food into the park. Only drinks, and bags are checked. This rule has been in place since 2022 to protect the animals in the park.
How do you get there and back?
In Quepos you will arrive at a bus station of bus company Transportes Quepos Puntarenas (T.Q.P) where yellow and green buses leave for Manuel Antonio, Puntarenas, Jaco and San Jose. See photo for bus times.
The white/blue bus to Manuel Antonio leaves about every 15 minutes and costs 355 colones/€0.55 and you pay at the driver. This bus runs back and forth between Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park starting at about 6:00 in the morning. You can get off and on the road in between whenever you want. The price of the bus is always the same, though.
From Quepos you can take a bus to Puntarenas to continue your journey to Monteverde or Montezuma/Santa Teresa for example. This bus goes 11 times a day between 4:35 a.m. and 6 p.m. The bus costs 2795 colones/€4.50 per person, tickets can be bought at the ticket office, and runs in 3 hours to Puntarenas.