Playa Manuel Antonio
written in collaboration with eisenarik (1 spots)
Manuel Antonio National Park is located close to the city of Quepos, on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, about 170 km from its capital, San Jose. Driving from San Jose to the Park takes about 2.5 hours. There are several options for a visit: paying the single entrance fee (USD16/CRC1600) or having a guided tour (from USD50pp.). Be careful, as the number of visitors is limited to 600 per weekday and 800 during weekends. You will need to arrive early to ensure you can get in (opening hours: 7h-17h, closed on Mondays). Manuel Antonio beach is the most accessible and frequented in the Park. Walking there from the entrance will take you about 20 minutes.
We advise you to walk over to the end of the beach and settle close to the rocks emerging in the bay: this is the best area for snorkeling. Be careful if you leave your belongings on the beach, raccoons here are famous for stealing in bags left unattended.
You can basically explore the whole bay, but we advise you to focus on the area located at the southern end of the beach. It is rockier and underwater life especially abounds (see map above).
Sand strips and rocks alternate on the seabed. Even if there is not a lot of coral, numerous species typical from East Pacific regions can be spotted. You will come across schools of surgeonfish, Cortez rainbow wrasse spurting over the rocks and several blowfish species hiding away at every sudden move. Two butterflyfish species (blacknosed butterflyfish and threebanded butterflyfish) and two angelfish species (Cortez angelfish and Passer angelfish) also dwell here.
Threebanded butterflyfish at Manuel Antonio
The bay is generally sheltered from currents. However, as anywhere else in Costa Rica, visibility can sometimes be so poor you might be compelled to give up your excursion. This phenomenon is caused by sediments spilled out by rivers into the ocean after heavy rains. Improve your chances by planning your visit during dry season (December – March). And remember that whatever you get, you won’t regret your visit to the splendid, wildlife-packed Park.
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