Manuel Antonio National Park, on Costa Ricas' Pacific coast, is a favorite for both nature enthusiasts and beach lovers. The national park is famous for its white sandy beaches and adjacent evergreen forest which grows right down to the high tide mark. Fortunately, these beautiful shores were made a National Park, protecting them from the environmental hazards of tourism.
Facilities at the park include an information center, a museum, and a variety of trails. One of the most interesting trails leads you through the jungle to the top of Cathedral Point where you can look down the vertical cliffs to the crystal clear water below. Other activities in the park include snorkeling, horseback riding, boat rides, and fishing programs.
More than 100 species of mammals have been identified here, including the endangered squirrel monkey. The park is also home to two and three toed sloths, common raccons, white-nosed coati, white-faced capuchin monkeys, iguanas, and tree squirrels. Many of these species can be observed right from the beach. Also frequenting the beach are several species of turtles. Manuel Antonio is a paradise for birdwatchers and snorkelers.
Some of the most common species of birds in the park include the Brown Pelican, Gauco, Black-Collared Hawk, White Ibis, White-Collared Cuejo, Fiery Billed Aracari, Green Kingfisher, and the Northern Jacana. The six main communities of marine life are home to 10 species of sponge, 19 of coral, 24 of crustacean, 17 of algae, and 78 of fish. Especially interesting is the Mouthless Crab, a medium sized crab with a light blue shell, very strong bright yellow claws, and red legs.