We've now been to Manuel Antonion twice. The first time, we hired a guide (Jordan) and had a lovely walk in. No, it is not like going to the zoo where there are animals on display for your viewing. Yes, you have to look for them. Our guide was amazing, complimenting my daughter because she was so good at helping him spot wildlife. The guides help each other -- no sense of competition. Guides will even point things out for folks who are not on their tour (though this is VERY uncool to do -- pay for your own guide!). Our favorite part, though, was when you get to the beach at the end. I just didn't imagine such loveliness! We went during the slow season and so it was pretty much empty! On this second trip in December 2014, everything was still lovely! My advice is DO OT BRING FOOD. But if you have to, eat it in the table area. If you have to bring it to your blankets with you, do as the Ticans do and bring an ice chest that locks or that you can bungee closed. It was a big pain when folks would go swimming and leave their food out. Raccoons here are FEARLESS. You can push them with a stick or throw sand in their direction and they keep coming. One woman was even having a tug of war with a raccoon over her plastic bag of food. Another man got into a fight with someone else because he bonked a raccoon on the head with a stick and the other man was mad about how he had treated the wildlife. So, while I wanted to enjoy the space, the raccoons made it difficult to fully relax. The public beach is MUCH better for sleeping and enjoying the beach. Manuel Antonio is for hiking, wildlife viewing and just overall appreciation of life!
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