Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio National Park, in Spanish the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, is a small National Park in the Central Pacific Conservation Area located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, just south of the city of Quepos, Puntarenas, and 132?km (82?mi) from the national capital of San Jos?. Established in 1972 with an area enumerating 4,014 acres (16.24?km2) (the smallest of any Costa Rican national park), it is the destination of as many as 150,000 visitors annually and well-known for its beautiful beaches and hiking trails. In 2011, Manuel Antonio was listed by Forbes among the world's 12 most beautiful national parks.
Four beaches are contained within the limits of the park: Manuel Antonio, Espadilla Sur, Teldoro, and Playita. With their large light sand berms, it is easy to see why they attract beach goers of all ages. The first is separated from the second by a "tombolo", or natural land bridge formed by sand accumulations. Visitors may enjoy a roughly hour-long hike from Espadilla to the top of Punta Catedral (100 m). Both Manuel Antonio and Espadilla Sur contain tidal pools and offer the possibility of snorkeling. There is a lifeguard program, but precaution must be taken, as riptides occur.
Although Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica's smallest national park, the diversity of wildlife in its 6.83?km2 (3?sq?mi) is unequaled with 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds. Both Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth and Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth (perezosos) are a major feature, as are three of Costa Rica's four monkey species ? the Mantled Howler monkey, Central American Squirrel Monkey, and White-headed Capuchin monkey. Black Spiny-tailed Iguana, Green Iguana, Common Basilisk, White-nosed Coati and many snake and bat species are also common in the park. Included in the 184 bird species are toucans, woodpeckers, potoos, motmots, tanagers, Turkey Vulture, parakeets and hawks. Dolphins can be observed there, as well as the occasional migrating whale. Scuba diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking provide opportunities to experience the tropical wildlife that enriches Manuel Antonio. Manuel Antonio is Costa Rica's second most visited park behind the Po?s Volcano National Park which lies very close to San Jos?, the country's largest urban area. The park's popularity has led to development of the surrounding areas, with environmental impacts to nearby forests and beaches. The Pacific Ocean in front of Manuel Antonio Park is also world renowned for its fishing. From November to April it is not uncommon for a typical angler to release multiple billfish in the over 100 pound range.