Introducing Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio & Around
As visitors find themselves along this small outcropping of land that juts out into the Pacific, the air becomes heavy with humidity, scented with thick vegetation and alive with the call of birds and monkeys, making it suddenly apparent that this is the tropics. The reason to come here is the stunning Parque Nacional Manual Antonio, one of the most picturesque bits of tropical coast in Costa Rica. If you get bored of cooing at the baby monkeys that scurry in the canopy and scanning for birds and sloths, the turquoise waves and perfect sand provides endless entertainment. However, there's no pretending that Manuel Antonio is anyone's secret – despite being the smallest of Costa Rica's national parks, it is also one of the most popular. Little Quepos, the once sleepy fishing and banana village on the park's perimeter, has rapidly ballooned with this tourism-based economy (although it is admirably clinging to its roots despite ongoing socioeconomic transformation), and the road leading from Quepos to the park is overdeveloped. However, the rainforested hills sweeping down to the sea and the blissful beaches make the park a stunning destination worthy of the tourist hype.
Note that, for purposes of clarity, we've divided our coverage into four sections: Quepos proper (the area's only proper small city), the road from Quepos to Manuel Antonio, the tiny Manuel Antonio Village and the national park itself.
Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
A place of swaying palms and playful monkeys, spakling blue water and riotous tropical birds, Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio embodies Costa Rica's postcard charms. It was declared a national park in 1972, preserving it (with just minutes to spare) from being bulldozed and razed to make room for a coastal development project.