When I returned to Costa Rica for the second time, there was one place I knew we had to visit that, since I had missed it the first time around. Manuel Antonio National Park is in the central Pacific Coast side of Costa Rica and is well-known for its diversity of plants and animals – pretty astounding considering the whole country is the most biologically diverse in the world.
Manuel Antonio Tours
Our hotel, Parador Resort and Spa, offered guided tours of the park, but there are many companies that provide this service in the area. I can’t stress enough that it is well worth going with a guide, for several reasons. He knew what he was looking for and saw so many animals that we would have missed without his trained eye, and also he carried a long lens scope to help us zero in from afar. We were able to easily take photos from the back of the scope from our phones!
Can you imagine how we felt when he found us several SLOTHS? (He’s in there, I promise!) We even saw both kinds that reside in Manuel Antonio – the two and three toed varieties.
So many animals!
In addition to the sloths, we saw: howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, iguanas, coatis, a viper snake, bats, and many kinds of birds.
The other amazing thing at Manuel Antonio is after your hike (an easy one!) through the park, there are beaches to enjoy!
Two beaches in fact, on either side of a sliver of land that leads out to Punta Catedral.
But watch out for the critters! We had raccoons and monkeys go after our lunch – and almost succeed!
Sea Turtles Being Born
But by far the most amazing thing we saw was completely by accident. While we were lounging on the beach, we heard a commotion. YES… SEA TURTLES!
We didn’t have time to get over to Tortuguero, the more famous turtle area of Costa Rica… but while visiting Manuel Antonio, babies hatched the exact moment we were standing on their beach. What?!
These little guys, who were not more than two inches long, crawled down the beach and out into the sea.
It was one of those unbelievable moments that you never forget. Our guide had never witnessed this, and he was from the area!
The Park Rangers drew lines in the sand and had us stand to either side and let the baby turtles pass.
These are Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, the most common to this area of Costa Rica.
But trust me, it was a completely uncommon experience for us.
The whole day was incredible. Manuel Antonio has everything. So glad my family could experience something so special, together – and we can’t wait to go back!