Home » Visiting Manuel Antonio National Park With Kids In Costa Rica
Central America Costa Rica Popular Posts

Visiting Manuel Antonio National Park With Kids In Costa Rica

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Last Updated on June 3, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

*This post may contain affiliate links. Opinions shared are my own and I only endorse products I support. By clicking on any of the links below,, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase at absolutely no additional charge to you. I appreciate your support.*

Easily one of the top five national parks in Costa Rica, if not the most popular, Manuel Antonio National Park should be on your agenda when visiting Costa Rica.

Visiting with kids is totally doable and fun! There are a few things to know before you go.

Getting to Manuel Antonio National Park

Driving from Jaco to Manuel Antonio National Park

We drove our rental car down from Jaco, which is about 1.5 hours north of Manuel Antionio National Park. The roads are two-lane and easy to navigate.

Read here for tips on driving in Costa Rica.

Parking at Manuel Antonio

As you get close to the park, prepare yourself for tourist traps galore. You’ll probably be flagged off the road and told to park. We did exactly this. The men flashed their ID cards and told us they worked for the park and we must park there.

Ignore them.

We found lots of parking closer to the park as we walked up. Additionally, we had to pay for this parking (about $4 USD), which is silly. The closer parking is free!

Parking at Manuel Antonio

It is not uncommon to have to pay for parking in Costa Rica. In fact, I found it a bit comforting. I’d happily pay a small fee to keep my car safe and sound. However, these tourist traps are not needed and you can park closer to the park.

Guides At Manuel Antionio

You’ll be offered guides from the moment you stop the car. The first offer we got was $50 USD per person. As we continued to say “no,” this offer got as low as $60 for our entire group.

We did not get a guide, which I regret. I would recommend getting one. The park is full of wildlife including over 100 species of birds, sloths, monkeys, etc. You probably won’t see much, if any, without a guide.

However, negotiate for your guide! Just keep declining or acting uninterested and the price will continue to drop.

Tickets For Entry to Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park entry ticket

Once you find the entrance, you’ll be directed to automated ticket machines. An attendant will guide you through the process. It runs around $10 USD per person. Our family of seven was just over $70 USD. Credit cards are accepted.

The tickets will print out and you’ll show them at one more window.

Covid Requirements for Entering The Park

Currently, masks are required to enter the park. You’ll need to wash you hands, record your temperature, and wear masks when entering. We forgot our masks in the car and had to buy a few from the vendors right outside the park.

Once you start walking in the park, you can remove your mask.

Walking through Manuel Antonio National Park

Bag Check At the Entrance

Outside food is not allowed inside the park. All bags will be checked. I think this is both so you don’t feed the wildlife, as well as to force you to buy food inside the park. You can, however, bring in your own water.

Bathrooms Inside Manuel Antonio

I have a thing for international bathrooms. When you have lots of young kids, you want to know what to expect from bathrooms while traveling.

Several bathrooms exist throughout the park. Many of them have showers and multiple stalls for men and women. The ones near the beaches have foot-washing stations as well.

Beaches Inside Manuel Antonio

Several beaches are accessible only by walking through the park itself. We walked about 40 minutes with the kids before we reached the first beach.

Prepare yourself for some incredible beauty. This beach tops our list for most beautiful in the world!

You can set down your bags and shoes under the trees, but beware. Monkeys are known to steal phones, cameras, and more! We didn’t see any monkeys on the beach when we went, but heard many stories.

Food and Drinks Inside Manuel Antonio

Remember, no outside food and drinks are allowed inside.

There is a small cafe inside the park. It serves pizza, sandwiches, salads, pastries, and drinks. There is also gelato which tastes extra good when you are hot and sweaty from walking around.

You’ll need your mask here again and will be asked to wash your hands first.

We spent about $50 on lunch here. It’s overpriced and not amazing food, but I’m glad they have it for hungry kids.

Animals With The Park

If you get a guide, you are nearly guaranteed to see a sloth and some monkeys. The guides bring telescopes to see through the lofty green canopy.

Without a guide we didn’t see much. There are signs along the raised pathway.

We did happen to cross paths with a troop of monkeys on our way back to the car. They were curious, but not aggressive. They barely paid attention to us at all.

Park Closures

Our travel friends Hartandcol found out the hard way Manuel Antionio is closed on Mondays. This is hard info to find on the website.

Other Things To Do Around The Park

Quepos is the closest town to the park and has some touristy activites avaiable. Zip-lines are huge in Costa Rica and even young children can do them.

The public beach near Manuel Antionio entrance is gorgeous. You can rent beach chairs, do water sports, and have drinks brought to you.

Lots of little vendors line the entrance to the park and will try to sell you their wares. Be sure to negotiate. We enjoyed some fresh coconuts to drink and bought a few souveniers.

We opted for a meal at a darling restaurant, Donde Alex, near the entrance/exit to Manuel Antonio. I’d recommend the whole Red Snapper with Jumbo Prawns. Such a yummy meal! Their fresh smoothies are also a wonderful treat at the end of your walk.

Enjoy your visit to the park! Costa Rica holds many treasures for families traveling.



Additional Reading




One Comment

  1. Pingback: My Top 10 Must-Have Travel Products For Family Travel - 7 Wayfinders

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *