We couldn’t come this far without venturing to the National park. This National Park has been described as having ‘one of the top beaches in the world’ as well as being the most visited due to its varied fauna with ‘109 species of mammals and 184 of birds’. Pretty much tropical paradise so we were itching to go!
The National park is open Tuesday- Sunday 7 AM to 4 PM and the entrance fee is $16USD. There are buses that run from Quepos to the national park entrance all day long and they make stops on the hill, which is super handy even though the couple at our accomo gave us a lift (I would recommend the bus over cars anytime though). The bus costs 340 colones pp and you can get off at the last stop and walk to the park entrance. If you drive, be prepared to be stopped by HUNDREDS of asshole guys pretending they work for the park and have great places to park your car for $20NZD a day – these guys are SCAMMERS…just drive straight past them and try and get a space at the Hotel near the park. The parking rates are much cheaper and safer for your vehicle.
Now, to the park – we decided despite the heat, and our obsession with hiking to do every single trail in the park itself. We may as well as we are here for 1 day and the weather was pretty good. The park itself is small and without a guide we still managed to see 3 types of monkeys – Squirrel, Howler and Capuchin, agouti’s, a curious coati, raccoons (funny story to follow), iguanas and so many crabs. As much as a guide is great, we personally saw HEAPS without one.
After all the hiking and wildlife spotting, we went beach hopping. The two main beaches inside the park, Espadilla Sur Beach and Manuel Antonio Beach are about a 30-minute hike from the main entrance of the park. Playa Manuel Antonio is best known for its spectacular views, but if you’re looking to escape the vast floods of tourists, venture a bit further down the main trail to Playa Espadilla Sur where we spent the majority of the afternoon. Highly recommend option 2! Much nicer beach, less people, great to swim and heaps of iguanas!
On Manuel Antonio beach we saw so many Capuchin monkeys and how playful/ aggressive they get as they stole a child’s sandwich right out his hand – hilarious but the wee boy was devastated. Leo then went for a swim and this is when the raccoon story happened. I was sat eating my sandwich and next minute a raccoon hopped over the fence and into Leo’s bag! Leo watched the whole time from the sea as many people were shouting ‘there’s a raccoon in your bag’…I didn’t know what to do as I didn’t want it to bite me…so, naturally I hit it. Right in the face. With my bag. Essentially, today I punched a raccoon. Another phrase I never thought I would say.
Overall, cracking day! The park itself, I would rate a 7/10 as Cahuita was a million times better as for us personally, the vendors and sheer overcrowding ruined it to an extent. It is still beautiful and scenery wise - awe inspiring but over-touristy for sure!
BUT, if you are here, definitely go to tick it off the list.
Hey! I'm Ally. I left the UK in 2011 to move overseas and ended up in New Zealand - my new home. This year we are taking a gap year to loop the world stopping in some AMAZING destinations - and I'm passionate about sharing these adventures with you!