Wildlife-lovers will be in heaven when they visit the smallest national park of Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio. Blessed with misty mountains and dazzling beaches, this Pacific Coast gem has something to offer everyone. Hidden in the depths of these landscapes and seascapes is an array of wildlife waiting to be discovered. While you can explore the park solo, we recommend booking one of the best wildlife and adventure tours at Manuel Antonio.
Having a knowledgeable guide show you around makes all the difference when it comes to spotting exotic and rare creatures. Many of the mammals, reptiles and birds found in Manuel Antonio stick to certain areas and only come out at specific times. By joining a tour, like the awesome ones run by Adventure Tours Costa Rica, you get the chance to see sloths moving slowly from tree to tree and young capuchin monkeys playing together.
Not only is wildlife-viewing here a matter of knowing where to go, and when, but it also requires patience. Oftentimes you have to wait a few hours or you might need to use binoculars to see the animals from afar. Luck certainly plays its part – sometimes travelers have unbelievably good fortune, while others search the day in vain. Whatever happens on your trip though, know that the rainforest and coastline are still worth exploring.
The park’s 680 hectares are filled with incredible hiking opportunities. The trails lead you along white-sand beaches, into the rainforest and meander up into the mountains where breathtaking vistas look out over the Pacific. When you are all trekked out and happy with the wildlife you have seen, it might be time to take on another type of journey because this little slice of Costa Rican paradise offers everything you could imagine and more.
Whether you fancy kayaking on the ocean, jumping aboard a catamaran trip, canyoning and rappelling, ziplining through a rainforest canopy or just a leisurely horseback ride – the team at Adventure Tours Costa Rica can help you experience a different side to the national park that you might not have expected. So, without further ado, let us provide you with an overview of the best wildlife and adventure tours in Manuel Antonio National Park.
12 Best Wildlife & Adventure Tours in Manuel Antonio
1. Manuel Antonio & Monkeys
If you are coming to Manuel Antonio to hunt for monkeys then there is no better tour to book. Enjoy a full day at the park, from 7am pick-up to 5pm drop-off. A naturalist guide joins your group and takes you along natural trails in the morning, before a midday exploration of beaches where swimming and snorkeling abound. In the afternoon, hop on a boat to roam mangrove-lined waterways and get up close to capuchin monkeys.
2. Monkey Mangrove
This is the perfect two hour experience for those solely interested in monkeys, without the deep exploration of Manuel Antonio which can be done later. Families with young children in particular will have a blast on this riverboat adventure, as everyone young and old will get to meet white-faced capuchin monkeys. The playful primates thrive in swampy mangrove forests and they are well accustomed to having human interaction.
3. VIP Manuel Antonio National Park
This private full day tour is all about one thing: hiking marvelous trails. Enjoy the company and expertise of a naturalist guide who will take you on an unforgettable journey – up and down the mountainous rainforest slopes, to pristine beaches and to the best spots for wildlife viewing. Expect to see everything from sloths and monkeys, to iguanas and birds. Part of the enjoyment is the verdant greenery that surrounds you the whole way.
4. Birding Tour from Manuel Antonio
Although the sloths and monkeys get all the attention in Manuel Antonio, you shouldn’t overlook the birds in the nearby Naranjito Forest. They are all so wonderfully colorful and chirp the most inspiring songs. On this private birding tour – which usually runs for just over six hours – you will be seeking out the most exotic species in the forest including white-necked jacobins, purple-throated mountain gems and black-mandibled toucans.
5. Manuel Antonio Horseback Riding Tours
The horseback riding trips with Adventure Tours Costa Rica provide a fun day for the whole family. Meet your guide, pick a suitable horse from the stables and venture off on a tranquil ride through mountain trails en-route to a waterfall. Along the way, there will be ample time to admire the variety of flora and fauna – such as two and three-toed sloths, and butterflies. The highlight is reaching a majestic waterfall where you can enjoy a quick dip.
6. Jungle Night Walk
Manuel Antonio is a different beast at night and on this stroll you will get to see creatures that flourish nocturnally. Track down lizards, frogs, spiders, scorpions and snakes. Those last three might have you worried but don’t fret – a guide leads the walk and ensures you remain safe at all times. The best aspect about the pitch black rainforest are the sounds that emanate from it – a symphony of croaking frogs and humming insects.
7. Ocean Kayaking
The Pacific is an integral part of Costa Rica’s character and the ultimate way to experience its shimmering waters is on a kayak. On a four hour tour, paddle across the ocean on your way to a secluded cove called Biesanz Beach. Once here you will be able to park your kayak and take a swim, or snorkel alongside colorful fish and maybe a turtle or two. Everyone over the age of 8 can join in on the fun, so bring the kids with you for this excursion.
8. Manuel Antonio Catamaran Tour
Manuel Antonio’s top beaches are well off the beaten track and can only be accessed by boat, which is why you should consider this tour. It takes you to Playa Biesanz with its white sands, clear waters and green backdrop. Here, you can sunbathe or snorkel. Sailing with Adventure Tours Costa Rica both relaxes and thrills you. The catamaran cruises slowly, while you watch out for whales and dolphins – a sight which will get your heart racing.
9. Manuel Antonio Zipline Canopy Tour
We bet you didn’t know Manuel Antonio has a zipline course. It offers platforms where you can glide through the air from one canopy to the next on a series of exhilarating ziplines. Being at this height means the views are one-of-a-kind. In total, there are 11 cables. As fun as the zipline is, be sure to keep an eye out for macaws, toucans and other birds which fly by. If you are feeling rather brave, give the Tarzan Swing a go. It’s a lot of fun.
10. Canyoning & Rappelling
Adventure-junkies will find their next fix on this extreme adventure that unfolds less than 30 minutes away from the park. Kick things off with a Hummer truck ride down the Tulin River before hiking across jaw-dropping hanging bridges. Next on the agenda is the Tarzan Swing: a harnessed freefall jump that will give you goosebumps. Then it’s canyoning, ziplining, rappelling, a caving ladder, waterfall swing and swimming in a river.
11. Savegre Rafting
The Class III rapids on the Savegre Rafting tour offer first-time rafters a nice introduction to this sport. This class is considered intermediate and so you shouldn’t expect anything too crazy. The rafting begins in calm waters, then enters Class II rapids and finally rolls into Class III with its number one attraction – “Devil’s Mouth”. After “surviving” this section of the course, you appear in a coastal estuary that is teeming with vegetation and birds.
12. El Chorro Rafting
If you like the sound of the tour above but would prefer something more gnarly then why not give El Chorro a go on the Naranjo River. Class IV and V rapids greet you on this whitewater adventure, therefore it’s a more challenging activity. But both experienced rafters and newbies with the right attitude are welcome to give it a crack. The highlights include surging rapids, extreme narrows, sharp turns, massive boulders and sudden drops.