Interested in Manuel Antonio National Park?
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It costs $10 to enter the park if you are not a Costa Rican citizen, and it opens at 7AM (closed on Mondays). As you walk around the town near Manuel Antonio Park, and as you enter the park area (an easy walk) you will be stopped by many people offering guide services. Don't be duped into buying these services unless you are completely unable to follow pathways on your own. However, knowledgeable guides are helpful in spotting hidden animals and are usually armed with a telescope to help you find the elusive tree sloths. The beaches are most empty and the animals are most active in the early AM, so go as early as possible. While you may or may not choose to hire a guide (you can definitely enjoy the park either way!), you should definitely beware of the first "parking attendants/guides" you encounter while driving toward the park. Those early attendants (near Balu, Mar y Sombra) are not employed by the city and are directing you and charging you to park illegally on a public road. You can legally park much closer to the National Park for a much lower price if you pass these first attendants and look for the actual lots closer to park entrance. You will also find the more reputable guides closer to the park. And remember, if you rely on these "attendants" to find you a guide, they are only going to point you to the guide who pays the most commission for the referrel.
The pathways are extremely well marked. But be careful - if you're headed for the park, the crocodile habitat pool (these are small crocs, but still...) comes up before the entrance gate to the park. Take the path that goes more toward the oceanside, the other takes you directly into the croc habitat pool. It is impossible to miss the animals inside the park ... especially the Capuchine Monkeys. You can get incredible photos of them if you use "forced flash" to get the best stop action; these guys move very, very fast and almost continuously! Also beware of any food that you bring with you into the park -- monkeys are known to steal fruits from unaware tourists. Look up into the high palm trees near the beaches to find arboreal porcupines within nice zoom photo range. And in some of the logs near the beaches you'll find photogenic iguanas. Follow the signs to "El Mirador" to get a great panoramic view of the ocean.
There are bathroom facilities along the path, and changing rooms. Take your swimsuit and towel and water, as well as cameras. The Playa Manuel Antonio is the best beach inside the park and you will want to swim. The beaches inside the park are clean, quiet and peaceful and it is definitely worth spending some time there, but the beaches outside the park are also quite nice and, after spending some quiet time inside the park, are also a great option. You can rent chairs and umbrellas, have some drinks, and enjoy some great activities such as banana boat, parasailing, kayaking, snorkeling and jet skis. Do note, however, that if you choose to do some activities, use your common sense. There are reputable vendors on the beach who have been around, keep safety in mind and who are always happy to show you their permits and insurance papers, but there are also those who pop up from day to day just trying to make a buck. Talk to the vendors, ask questions and you will definitely enjoy!