Manuel Antonio Hiking Trails

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Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica offers lush rainforests, captivating wildlife, and breathtaking panoramic views. The park is famous for its well-maintained hiking trails, which allow visitors to explore the enchanting landscapes and discover the secrets of this renowned national park. Situated on the central Pacific coast, Manuel Antonio provides access to abundant biodiversity and encounters with exotic wildlife.

Whether you are an experienced hiker or a casual explorer, these trails offer an immersive experience, where the sounds of tropical birds, monkey-filled treetops, and crashing Pacific waves create a sensory masterpiece. Join us on a journey through the heart of Manuel Antonio’s lush wilderness, where every step reveals the untamed beauty of nature. Get ready to explore the best hiking trails in this magnificent park.

Wonderful Variety of Hiking Trails

Manuel Antonio National Park offers hikers different trails, some of the best are:


Playa Espadilla Sur Trail

beachgoers with canopies on the beach
This 0.8-kilometer sandy trail along Espadilla Beach offers an easy hike with multiple access points.

Starting from the park entrance this 0.8-kilometer (0.5-mile) sandy route runs along Espadilla Beach. The simplicity of this trail makes it perfect for those who want to ease into the hiking experience. You can choose the section of the route that best suits your needs because there are several access points to the beach along it. At last, the breathtaking sight of the gorgeous Playa Espadilla with crystal blue water awaits you at the conclusion of the walk.


Cathedral Point Trail

This trail is a must-visit while at the park, spanning 2.5 miles (4 km) and transporting hikers to heaven. The jungle’s dense foliage will envelop you while the vibrant wildlife and flora create a stunning backdrop, making it feel like Mother Nature’s private art museum. Encounter a variety of animals, including cheeky monkeys and tired sloths. There are other hiking paths in the park to try if you’re left wanting more.


Mirador Trail

The Mirador Trail, although known as the most difficult, is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts. It offers breathtaking views and a challenging terrain that provides a unique experience. The trail is only 0.6 miles long and it also begins at the park’s main entrance. It winds through dense forests and lush greenery, with well-constructed wooden stairs leading to a viewpoint. When you reach the mirador point, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding landscapes. For an upgraded experience, hike this trail during sunset and witness the sky painted in shades of orange and red as the sun dips below the horizon.


Perezoso Trail

Sloth face
The Perezoso Trail is a 2 km path through a dense forest with enchanting viewpoints and diverse wildlife, including sloths.

Among all the fantastic trails this park has to offer, the Perezoso Trail (meaning sloth trail) stands out as a hidden gem. The Sloth Trail is moderately easy, making it suitable for hikers of all levels. It will lead you through a dense forest, offering shade from the scorching sun. Along the way, you’ll encounter a variety of wildlife, including the sleepy sloths (hence the name “Perezoso Trail”).

As you make your way further, you’ll come across enchanting viewpoints where you can take a moment to absorb the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding landscape. The Perezoso Trail is also known for its well-maintained paths and signage, making it easy to navigate. It takes about 1.2 miles (2 km) to walk it.


Playa Gemelas Trail

view of ocean cove
The Playa Gemelas Trail offers lush greenery, wildlife, and a secluded beach.

As you embark on the Playa Gemelas Trail, get ready to be embraced by the lush greenery and mesmerizing wildlife where you will feel like stepping into a real-life fairytale. What sets the Playa Gemelas Trail apart is its grand finale, where you emerge from the enchanting forest and find yourself standing on a pristine, secluded beach. End your hiking adventure with a visit to these twin beaches. Relax on the sandy shores and take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters.


El Manglar Trail

close up of snail on beach
The Mangrove Trail takes hikers through coastal ecosystems, offering encounters with diverse wildlife.

Meandering through the park’s mangrove swamps and estuaries, this trail offers a unique journey into the heart of coastal ecosystems. As hikers traverse the winding path, shaded by overhanging branches, they encounter a symphony of wildlife sounds and the rhythmic rustling of mangrove leaves. The trail provides glimpses of hermit crabs scuttling across the forest floor, iguanas basking in the sun, and an array of coastal birds soaring above. An educational experience as much as a scenic adventure, the Mangrove Trail showcases the delicate balance between land and sea.


Caña Blanca Trail

Toucan up close
The Caña Blanca Trail provides opportunities for birdwatching enthusiasts to spot toucans, parrots, and trogons.

Spanning approximately 3 miles (4.8 km), this trail unfolds as a moderate yet invigorating adventure, promising captivating encounters with Costa Rica’s diverse flora and fauna. Towering trees provide a verdant canopy overhead, offering intermittent glimpses of the vibrant birdlife that inhabits the lush foliage. For birdwatching enthusiasts, the Caña Blanca Trail is a haven, with opportunities to spot toucans, parrots, and trogons amidst the dense vegetation.


Cathedral Marino Ballena Trail

Cathedral marino ballena trail
The moderately challenging Catedral Marino Ballena Trail offers adventurers a journey through diverse ecosystems.

This moderately challenging trail stretching across 2.7 miles (4.3 km), guides adventurers through a rich tapestry of diverse ecosystems. As hikers venture deeper into the heart of the trail, they are treated to panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, a visual symphony that crescendos upon reaching the renowned Catedral Marino Ballena, a rock formation resembling a whale’s tail.

The trail provides an incredible opportunity to witness the seasonal migration of whales and dolphins, adding a dynamic marine dimension to the trek. With the rhythmic sound of crashing waves accompanying each step, the Catedral Marino Ballena Trail stands as a testament to Manuel Antonio’s ability to seamlessly intertwine terrestrial and marine wonders.


La Catarata Trail

Waterfall splashing into pool of water
La Catarata Trail leads hikers through dense vegetation and towering trees.

The Waterfall Trail, or La Catarata Trail, is a hidden gem in Manuel Antonio National Park that takes hikers through dense vegetation and towering trees, with tropical birds and murmuring streams providing a serene atmosphere. At the end of the trail, there is a breathtaking waterfall, which serves as a refreshing oasis. Sendero La Catarata offers a captivating inland experience, showcasing Costa Rica’s natural beauty and providing a memorable adventure for hikers.


Los Congos Trail

Monkey in tree
The Howler Monkey Trail offers the chance to see vibrant birds, sloths, squirrels, and capuchin monkeys.

This moderate path is aptly named for the iconic howler monkeys that frequent the area, with their distinctive calls echoing through the treetops. As hikers move along the trail, it unveils a mosaic of tropical flora and fauna, with vibrant birds, sloths, squirrels, and capuchin monkeys making intermittent appearances. The ambient sounds of the jungle create a symphony, adding to the immersive experience. The trail culminates in an elevated vantage point, offering panoramic views of the park and the Pacific Ocean beyond, providing a rewarding conclusion to a trek immersed in the biodiversity and natural wonders of Manuel Antonio.


Puerto Escondido Trail

Puerto Escondido viewpoint
The Puerto Escondido Viewpoint Trail offers a captivating fusion of tropical beauty and panoramic vistas.

An exhilarating fusion of tropical beauty and panoramic vistas awaits hikers on this trail. This moderate path winds its way through the heart of the national park, leading adventurers to the coveted Puerto Escondido viewpoint. The journey is characterized by a diverse array of vegetation and animals, with intermittent glimpses of capuchin monkeys and exotic birds. The Puerto Escondido Viewpoint Trail stands as a testament to Manuel Antonio’s ability to seamlessly blend lush rainforests with coastal allure.


Manuel Antonio Beach Trail

View of beach trail at Manuel Antonio beach
Playa Manuel Antonio is a postcard-perfect beach framed by turquoise waters and verdant hills.

With only 0.25 miles (400 meters) this short trail is a picturesque path that leads visitors through the heart of Manuel Antonio National Park, offering a harmonious blend of coastal and terrestrial wonders. As hikers make their way, the sounds of tropical birds and the rustle of wildlife in the dense foliage accompany them.

The trail culminates in the unveiling of Playa Manuel Antonio, the main beach of this magical national park, which is a postcard-perfect beach framed by turquoise waters and backed by verdant hills. The Manuel Antonio Beach Trail provides not only a scenic journey but also access to one of Costa Rica’s most stunning beaches, inviting travelers to relax, swim, and savor the captivating beauty that defines this tropical haven.

Entrance Fee and Opening Hours

View of ocean and the whale tail
Manuel Antonio National Park’s entry price is $18.08 for adults and $5.65 for children under 11.

Manuel Antonio National Park is open every day of the year, with the exception of Tuesdays, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., including holidays.

The entry price for adults is $18.08, while children under the age of 11 pay $5.65. The only way to buy tickets is online on this site.

Important Tips

The guidelines for a successful hike in Manuel Antonio National Park include bringing binoculars for wildlife observation and wearing comfortable shoes. Don’t forget to bring enough water, your swimwear as well as sunscreen and a hat. The Punta Catedral Trail requires insect repellent and a light snack for a potential picnic. Caution near cliff edges is emphasized, and hikers are encouraged to move quietly to observe birds. For a more enriching experience, hiring a guided tour is suggested.

Manuel Antonio National Park stands as a testament to the incredible biodiversity that Costa Rica has to offer, and all the trails provide an immersive way to experience this natural wonder. Whether you opt for a leisurely stroll through the Senda Perezoso Trail or challenge yourself with the Punta Catedral Trail, each hike promises a unique adventure. As you embark on your hiking journey, remember to respect the park’s flora and fauna, follow Leave No Trace principles, and revel in the unparalleled beauty that Manuel Antonio National Park has to offer.

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