Hi, we are planning our Costa Rica trip to arrive end of January and plan to hire self catering accommodation on the Pacific, first of all near Uvita for PN Marino Ballena. We are tentatively thinking we would split our time on the coast between here and Manuel Antonio however the touristy-ness / busyness of Manuel Antonio has made us possibly re-think. Are both National Parks similar in the abundance of wildlife that can be spotted in the rainforest, and are they both similar in that they are beaches backed by rainforest, or is Manuel Antonio better for jungle wildlife viewing? We have 2 children (one age 3 and one 8months) and it will be their first trip to Costa Rica! Many thanks, Katy
Manuel Antonio and Marino Ballena National Parks are very different. You can see some wildlife at certain sectors of Marino Ballena NP but the real focus is on the protected areas of ocean/beach and the famous whale tail shaped sandbar. Manuel Antonio NP is good, especially for kids, because it has some flatter trails and calmer beaches for swimming. If you are concerned about the crowds in MA National Park though, you might consider doing a hike at Hacienda Baru in Dominical. It’s a much less visited reserve, has several flatter trails, and has a ton of great wildlife. Or if you do plan on staying in Manuel Antonio, you could check out Rainmaker just to the north, which is a lot less busy but the trails are a bit harder. Hope this helps with your decisions.