Monday, March 23, 2015

Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio National Park

Loved the Monkeys 
And Lunch at the El Avion Restaurant

This park was highly recommended by former visitors. It is about 40 years old and encompasses some extraordinary beaches and lots of wildlife. 

Sadly, the government has let the place get almost completely out of control allowing what should be a signature experience become a sideshow.

So prepare yourself. 

Upon arrival to the park you will find it a challenge to get through the mob of officially licensed hawkers selling secure parking and wildlife spotting. One literally hung on the side of the car. 

Sadly there is no developed official parking. The unofficial lot we selected charged about $4. The admission to the park is specifically "Gringo" priced. Locals pay one rate and foreign visitors pay a "new" admission price of $16 each. The admission ticket booth only takes visa or cash. Within the park they are currently building much needed infrastructure. There are new showers, walkways and restrooms. Most drinking fountains are still broken.

Once you get past the carnival at the entry, you will find the wildlife guides are quite good. Again haggling is required, but they run about $20 per person in your party for about 2 hours. Remember with good binoculars and a little effort on your part you will see lots of wildlife without a guide.

Final Advice. The park opens at 7:00 am. That is when the most wildlife is active. We arrived at 10:00 am and initially saw little wildlife. So we went and enjoyed the beautiful beaches. 

At the beaches we found lots of iguana's and little hermit crabs. Then about 12:30 we were mobbed by capuchin monkeys, followed by raccoons. 

Lovely Beaches and Tidal Pools

A Capuchin with baby in Tow

A Spiny Iguana

Monkey Iguana Standoff

Mugging for the Camera

A Crab Eating Rcacoon

After leaving the park we ate at the El Avion restaurant. It sits on a hilltop with a spectacular view. The whole restaurant is built around one of Reagan's Iran-Contra transport planes that crashed in Nicaragua and has been hauled up the hill in chunks and converted into a bar. The food, drinks, service and view were great and delivered at very fair prices.

The View from El Avion

The Shrimp and Rice Was Delicious 
As Were The Margarita's 

So here's Roadboy's recap.

Do go see this amazing park.

Go as early as possible.

Expect to have to do some haggling at the entry.

Bring some cash, a swimsuit, towel, good shoes, maybe some binoculars, camera, lots of sunscreen and water. Put all of your gear in a zipper bag and keep the bag close by or someplace the capuchin monkey's can't get to.

After visiting the park go eat and drink at El Avion.

Roadboy's Travels © 2015

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