Adventure Cruises in Manuel Antonio National Park

Hailed for having around 2.5 percent of the world’s biodiversity, a Manuel Antonio National Park cruise is a must for nature lovers. The park is a small rainforest-covered area covering only a few square kilometers. It is small but packs a punch for wildlife, with toucans, eagles, and more scarlet macaws than any other area in South America. The park boasts 463 different birds and 140 species of mammal. The rainforest offers walking trails and viewing spots for many of the unique animals found here.

Often, you will come out onto a long white-sand beach at the edge of the rainforest in Manuel Antonio National Park. Some beaches are only accessible by boat, so if you are on a cruise, you can enjoy the beach. These beaches are great places for swimming and snorkeling. Watch for turtles, even the occasional dolphin passing by, and the colorful reef fish. There are ample adventure and relaxation activities to suit all interests on a cruise to Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

Top things to do and see in the Manuel Antonio National Park

Costa Rica boat cruises normally stop off at a few national park spots to enjoy hikes and various activities. Hiking takes place on the many well-marked trails that run through the rainforest. The guides are knowledgeable and hawk-eyed when it comes to spotting wildlife. There are routes to suit all levels of fitness, dramatic waterfalls, and great views over the park from the high points of the trails. As you walk, watch for toucans, macaws, capuchin monkeys, and sleepy sloths in the trees. Costa Rica small ship cruises are also a great way to see migrating whales and dolphins passing through Costa Rican waters yearly.

There are ample opportunities to visit mangroves on a Costa Rica cruise, and the Manuel Antonio National Park offers the chance to explore them by kayak. These fascinating ecosystems are home to many wildlife, including crocodiles, snakes, and capuchin monkeys who often come down to greet visitors. Visiting by kayak is a great way to see wildlife, kayaks can reach areas bigger boats can and are far quieter so you can get closer to the animals.

It is often possible in Manuel Antonio National Park to hike in the rainforest for one minute and step out onto a fine white-sand beach the next. The beaches in the area are excellent for sunbathing and often have tidal pools, great for swimming and snorkeling. Turtles use these and many other Costa Rican beaches from August to October for nesting. This is a great sight to see from the beach and a good time to snorkel with some of the thousands of turtles that migrate here.

Turtles aren't the only marine life to get you to snorkel and mask on for either. The corals are very healthy, and colorful fish live on them. In the right areas, the water is calm, clear, and perfect for snorkeling. Most snorkeling sites are easily accessible from the shore, although if you are on a cruise in Costa Rica, it is often easier just to drop off the boat.

Top Tips for visiting the Manuel Antonio National Park on a cruise

  • The main activities in Manuel Antonio National Park are hiking and snorkeling, so it is a good idea to bring good walking boots and snorkeling equipment.
  • Binoculars are great for spotting shy wildlife, high up in the trees, or a crocodile.
  • A camera with a long lens might be useful for photographing these kinds of animals as well. One thing is for sure: if you like photography, have your camera on hand, as you never know what might pop out of the forest to say hello.
  • If you are going hiking in the national park, it is also a good idea to bring a good hat and plenty of high-factor sun cream to avoid being burned.

Best time to cruise the Manuel Antonio National Park

The best time to take a Manuel Antonio National Park cruise depends on whether you want reliable sunshine or quieter trails and beaches. If you want to go on your Manuel Antonio National Park cruise from December to April, you should plan ahead to avoid missing out. During this period, Manuel Antonio National Park holidays in Costa Rica sell out quickly, and tours are much busier. If you prefer to visit when things are quieter, then you should try to come around May to August when the weather is a little wetter but there are far fewer visitors. August to October is wetter than the preceding months, but it is also the best time to see turtles migrating to their nesting sites on the beaches of Costa Rica.

Where do Manuel Antonio National Park cruises depart from?

There are two main ports in Costa Rica where cruises to Manuel Antonio National Park depart: Puerto Caldera and Punta Arenas. These ports are a few hours' drive from the San Jose International Airport. It is possible to reach these ports by private transfer or a shuttle bus which are both more cost-effective than taking a taxi on arrival. Some cruises also depart from Herradura, a few hours from San Jose. Cruising from Costa Rica to Panama or vice versa is also possible. Cruises from Costa Rica depart from near San Jose and in the other direction from Flamenco Marina, close to Panama City.

San Jose is the largest airport and receives the majority of flights for people going on a Costa Rican cruise. The airport has flights from the USA, South America, and Europe. It is also possible to fly to Daniel Oduber airport from some places in the USA, but they are more limited than in San Jose.