Manuel Antonio National Park – Quepos, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Where Vibrant Rain Forest Plunges to the Sea

Of Costa Rica’s dozens of national parks, Manuel Antonio has long been one of the jewels, an idyllic combination of exuberant forest, white-sand beaches, and rich coral reefs. The guardians of this beautiful wilderness are now attempting to harness its popularity by limiting the number of ecotourists and di­verting some to other, less-visited parks. Manuel Antonio is one of Costa Rica’s small­est parks, and one of the last remaining habitats for the red-backed squirrel monkey. Few parks boast a coastal location, but here there is snorkeling, skin diving, surfing, and fishing galore.

After a visit to the rain forest gets you hot and sweaty, nothing beats jumping into the refreshing ocean … unless you’re lucky enough to have booked at La Mariposa, dramatically sited on a cliff above the sea. Its six split-level Mediterranean-style villas are enveloped in a riot of hibiscus and bougainvillea and flawlessly integrated into the hillside. Astounding 360-degree pano­ramas may distract one from the excellent meals served in the open-air dining room. So captivating are the full-circle vistas that guests linger long after the brilliant colors of the sunset dissipate and the margaritas disap­pear. Some never make it down to Manuel Antonio, happy in their bird’s nest above it all.

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