Discover why Manuel Antonio is Costa Rica’s Most Popular National Park!

Situated in the Central Pacific Coast, Manuel Antonio is home to one of the world’s most beautiful national parks. This protected area garners more than 600,000 visitors every year who are looking for the ultimate tropical paradise: white sand, warm waters, and astounding natural landscapes.

The Manuel Antonio National Park spans over 1,983 hectares of land and 55,000 hectares of sea surface. Exuberant rainforests embedded between towering mountains meet the sea in a setting that is the home of more than 109 species of mammals and 352 species of birds. Universal hiking trails, paradisiac beaches, and myriad wildlife sightings characterize any visit to this conservation area. Continue reading to know what to expect when visiting the Manuel Antonio National Park.

Beaches at Manuel Antonio National Park

  • Playa Gemelas: This beautiful beach is called “Gemelas” which is the word for “twins” in Spanish. It is divided in the middle by a rocky formation that sprawls into the ocean, and due to the marine currents and the movement of the tectonic plates, Playa Gemela is unique in its kind as it never stops changing. 
  • Playa Manuel Antonio: Manuel Antonio Beach is perhaps the most beautiful beach in the conservation area. The reef and rocky formations on either side of the stretch of sand are ideal to snorkel and witness the richness in marine life. 
  • Playa Espadilla Sur: This beach is known for having a stronger tide which makes it the least visited of the national park. Nonetheless, it is still strikingly beautiful and perfect to sunbathe thanks to its width.

Lookout Points at Manuel Antonio National Park

  • Punta Catedral: This area of the national park was once an island. Nowadays, the accumulation of sediment has created a natural bridge of sand. Walking to Punta Catedral you’ll find three different vantage points that overlook neighboring islets. 
  • Punta Serrucho:  This lookout point is poised over a tectonic fault, and due to constant movements, the shape resembles a saw, which is the literal translation of the word “serrucho”. 
  • Puerto Escondido: This is one of the best lookout points of the park and showcases a lovely phenomenon during low tide. Head out here if you want to see the surrounding islets connected by natural sand bridges.

Other Attractions at Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio also features other bodies of water including the mangrove swamp and a small waterfall. The swamp is a combination of sweet and salty water that spans over 18 hectares and showcases three different species of halophytes. Moreover, the waterfall is a phenomenon that happens only during the green season. 

There is also a site called  “La Trampa” (The Trap) which can be found on the right side of Manuel Antonio Beach, next to Punta Catedral. Archeological remains form a circle that can be appreciated during low tide, which legend says was used by the indigenous people to capture fish.

Services at Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio offers universal trails with signs, which are easy to follow and enable children of all ages and people with disabilities to enjoy the beauty of the site. There are essential services like potable water, showers and dressing rooms,  and restrooms. Additionally, you can also hire the services of a tourist guide, and there are a few shops selling souvenirs, snacks, and even lockers.


Do you need help booking a tour to Manuel Antonio National Park? Book one of our vacation rentals and let us plan your dream vacation.

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