Costa Rica // The Central Pacific and southern Nicoya //

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio and around

Small but perfectly formed, Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio ranks among the top tourist destinations in the country – visitors descend in droves to experience its stunning, picture-postcard setting, with spectacular white-grey sand beaches fringed by thickly forested hills. The striking tómbolo formation of Punta Catedral, jutting out into the Pacific, accounts for much of the region’s allure, and as you watch a lavish sunset flower and die over the ocean, it does seem as though Manuel Antonio may be one of the more charmed places on earth.

That said, the huge tourist boom has undeniably taken its toll on the area, and the small corridor of land between the old banana-exporting town of Quepos and the little community of Manuel Antonio is one of the most crowded pieces of real estate in the country, featuring an unbroken line of hotels and lodges that run right down to the park’s perimeter.