Manuel Antonio National Park#5 in Best Things To Do in Costa Rica
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Manuel Antonio National Park is one of Costa Rica's smallest protected green spaces, but don't let its size throw you off. Within the park's 3 square miles, you'll find untamed beaches, secluded coves, nature trails and a thick rainforest. You can stretch out on the park's coastline or wander along one of the walking paths to spot rare birds, camouflaged iguanas and purple-and-orange crabs. If you're a lover of furry creatures, you'll be pleased to discover that this park contains so many monkeys that the park built a suspension bridge to grant them free reign of the area.
Travelers recommend visiting Manuel Antonio's remote white-sand beaches in the southeastern tip of the park where visitors can relax under palm trees. Reviewers also recommend bringing a picnic lunch to enjoy. However, you'll want to watch your food closely as the monkeys have been known to steal food. To enjoy the park's untouched landscape without the crowds, consider arriving right when the park opens at 7 a.m.
Manuel Antonio National Park is set in Costa Rica's Central Pacific region, about 100 miles south of San José. You can reach the national park by bus or car from San José; the ride takes roughly two to three hours. Some guided tours may offer transportation to and from the park. Public buses also offer service between San Jose and the park, though you'll want to make sure you're taking a directo (direct) bus to avoid a long trip with multiple stops. Visitors are welcome daily Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $16 for visitors over age 12. Admission is free for kids 11 and younger. Guided tours are also available, starting at $51 for adults and $35 for kids. For more information, visit the park's official website.
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#1 Nicoya Peninsula
The Nicoya Peninsula's sparkling 80-mile shoreline boasts beach-centric towns with cream-colored shores and dense forests. Half of the peninsula is found in the Guanacaste province, while the other half sits in the Puntarenas province. Nosara Beach's powdery sands line the Nicoya Peninsula's western edge. You'll also find fishing and cattle-ranching communities east of the rustic coastline. After a significant rise in tourism that began in the 1970s, an influx of restaurants and hotels have enticed visitors to the peninsula's sandy coast.
Recent travelers highlight Nosara Beach's gorgeous sunsets, colorful fish and turquoise waters as ideal for surfers and beach lovers alike. But be warned: shade is minimal (and it gets hot!) and the undertow can be challenging; sunset walks on the beach are highly encouraged. Other hot spots include Mal País and Montezuma, a charming coastal town that boasts affordable hotel accommodations and untamed splendors, like magnificent waterfalls and gentle cerulean waves.
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