When you arrive in Quepos, followi the signs to Manuel Antonio. There is one main road, stay on it , the road empties into the park. It would be hard to get lost.
In front of the park is a public beach, vendors selling handicrafts and foods. There are also some shops and restaurants here. The atmosphere is one of a fair. This is a popular spot for folks coming down for the weekend from San Jose and everyone seems to be in a party mood.
The park opens every morning at 8:00am. If you want to catch some monkey action - the earlier the better. The monkeys are most active in the morning and at dusk. During the heat of the day they tend to nap and relax. Early in the morning the beaches are not crowded, some of the perfect beaches had nobody on them. Later in the day they fill up!
The park costs $6 to enter. They also will only allow 600 visitors to enter each day. So when they reach that magic 601 mark, you are out of luck and will have to try again tommorow!
Entering the park was rustic. You had to wade across a small stream to get in. The night before it had rained and the stream was massive, it was over my waist. You can pay a boater a few coins and they will take you on a short ride over this deep water.
The park is beautifully maintained. The paths are well marked and very well groomed. The first part of the park is flat. Further into the park the paths start to get hilly and are less groomed.
The beaches in the park are pristine. They have fine white sand and the ocean here is azur.
I came for the wildlife. I saw a ton of those cute white faced monkeys swinging in the trees. I also saw hundreds of colorful red and purple crabs, amazing butterflies and some kind of wild pig ran in front of me!
You can take guided tours of the park with a nature guide. These tours are all over Quepos and the hotels around the park.
I chose to hike the park on my own. I picked a trail called Punta Catedral and it took about 30 minutes to do it round-trip. The view was spectcular. The path can be steep in places and because it rained the night before it was muddy. This is a great path to spot monkeys on and I did see a lot. It also will take you past some secluded white sand beaches.
A trail I did not hike is Punta Surrucho, which has some sea caves. I was warned this is not a good trail to hike alone, as you can hike in during low tide, get stuck there at high tide.
Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica's second smallest park, but the most popular. The views and the wildlife here make this a park worth visiting.