The main route to this wilderness is the road from San José via Atenas- Herradura- Jacó- Parrita- Quepos- Manuel Antionio (174 km). On the way one can stop at the River Grande de Tárcoles and see the crocodiles.
White sandy beaches, cliffs, points, ravines, rainforests, varied wildlife and very hot climate are some of the components of Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific coast 7 kms. south of Quepos harbour. It is an agricultural region, based on plantation economy, and has been extensly altered since the 19th century. The forest, which used to cover vast tracts, was cut down and a few remaining stands are conserved tody in a protected wilderness area. The predominant species are the cotonron, bully tree, nargusta, black locust, cow tree, Santa Maria, and silk cotton with specimens as tall as 30-40 metres.
The wildlife in the forests consists mainly of white-faced capuchin, howler and squirrel monkeys, pacas, grey squirrels, racoons, white-nosed coaties, and two and three toes sloths. Some of the bird species that live in the park are the brown pelican, laughing falcon, black-collared hawk, white ibis, white-bellied chachalaca, blue-crowned manakin, fiery-billed aracari, green kingfisher and jacana.
There are other habitats besides the forest, such as mangrove swamps, lagoons, littoral woodlands and island vegetation. The park houses a total of 109 species of mammals and 184 of birds.Crabs abound in the small intermittent lagoons covered with gramineous plants and heliconias, a typical species being the brightly coloured mouthless crab that migrates to the beach at the beginning of the rainy season. The lagoons are also home to caymans, boa constrictors, grass snakes, white-nosed coaties and racoons.
The islands and islets provide an important refuge for seabirds, especially common terns and magnificent frigatebirds. Brown pelicans inhabit Mogote and anhingas use Olocuita and Larga Islands as a mating and nesting site. In the waters around the cliffs of volcanic-sedimentary rock, scientists have identified 19 species of coral, 78 of fish, 24 of crustaceans and 10 of sponges.
Manuel Antonio National Park was created as a recreation area and from this point of view it provides certain facilities, such as picnic areas and look-outs. Among the scenic sites, some of the most attractive are: the tombolo at Cathedral Point, a long sandy strip that joins what was Cathedral Island to the mainland; the cove at Escondido Harbour with blue-green waters surroundet by underwater caves and cliffs pounded by the surf; and the beautiful beaches where sometimes olive ridley and green turtles come to ley their eggs.