Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio is one of the most beautiful parks in the entire system. It is especially attractive because of the white sandy beaches at Espadilla Sur and Manuel Antonio which slope gently into unperturbed crystal-clear water. The beaches are furthermore fringed by a tall evergreen forest, which grows right down to the high tide mark and provides a pleasant shade.

The park has an extension of about 682 Hectares. The main habitats present in Manuel Antonio Park are primary and secondary forest, mangrove swamp marsh and littoral woodland.

There is a variety of wildlife in the park: 109 species of mammal and 184 of bird have been identified. One of the most interesting mammals observed is the squirrel monkey (Saimiri oerstedii) which lives within a very limited range in Costa Rica and is in danger of extinction. From the beach it is easy to see the two-toed sloths (Choloepus hoffmanni), three-toed sloths (Bradypus variegatus), common raccons (Procyon Jotor), white-nosed coati, white-faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus) and tree squirrels (Sciurus granatensis).

Some of the more common species of bird in the park are the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), guaco (Herpetotheres cachinnans), black-collared hawk (Busarellus nigricollis), white ibis (Eudocimus albus), white-collared cuejo (Nyctidromus albicollis). fiery-billed aracari (Pteroglossus frantzii), green kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana), and northern jacana (Jacana spinosa). The marine life is very diverse: in the six main communities identification has been made of 10 species of sponge, 19 of coral, 24 of crustacean, 17 of algae and 78 of fish. The mouthiess crab (Gecarcinus quadratus) is one of the most abundant species of crab and the most striking because of its brilliant colors. It is a medium-size crab with a light blue shell, very strong and bright yellow claws and red legs. The most numerous species of fish in the park are the Abudefduf saxatilis, Pseudojulius notospilus, Microspathodon dorsalis, Stegastes acapulcoensis, and Thalassoma lucasanum.

There are four especially interesting features of the park which can be visited. The first is the tombolo on Cathedral Point which joins the ancient Cathedral island to the mainland and where Espadilla Sur and Manuel Antonio Beaches are located. The second is the blow-hole at Escondido Harbor which is best viewed when the tide comes in. The third is Serrucho Point, an awesome, deeply eroded cliff that looks like a saw and that is honeycombed with sea caves. The fourth is the pre-Columbian underwater turtle trap on the western tip of Manuel Antonio Beach, which is also the best place to observe innumerable tiny fish at low tide. The park includes 12 islands off the coast. Most of them are barren, although scandent bamboo (Gynerium sagittatum) grows on some. The islands provide an excellent refuge for sea birds and form an especially important nesting site for the brown booby (Sula leucogaster). There are numerous dolphins in these waters and sometimes whales can be seen on their migratory journeys.

Occasionally Pacific green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys oivacea) nest on the beach.

{rdaddphp file=adsense_ads/ad234x60.html}

Leatherback turtle baby heading for the sea

{rdaddphp file=rss_scripts/1CostaRicaHistory2_amz.php}

{rdaddphp file=adsense_ads/ad234x60.html}