Finding Sloths In Manuel Antonio

The day was finally here. Our last full day in Costa Rica was the day we had organised to visit Manuel Antonio National Park.

And the main reason I was jumping out of my skin with excitement? SLOTHS!!

As someone who lives in Australia, sloths are an elusive tropical animal that we can not see in real life unless we travel to Central or South America, so I was beyond excited to be visiting the home of the biggest colony of sloths in Costa Rica.

monkey on the telephone lines in costa ricamanuel antonio

The town of Manuel Antonio had already been so much more than we expected. It was beautiful, with clear blue skies and surreal flora and fauna everywhere.

We’ve already posted about our phenomenal accommodation Hotel Makanda, seriously the most relaxing honeymoon resort we could have imagined, but the rest of Manuel Antonio was just as picturesque.

READ MORE:
Where You'd Rather Be: Makanda By The Sea

fruit stand in manuel antonioentry to manuel antonio national park

Getting to Manuel Antonio National Park

We set out early to get to the National Park, hiring a taxi to drive us from the hotel to the park. It was only about a 10ish minute drive and about $10 USD fare, but due to the high humidity and hilly streets it’s a good idea to grab a taxi over walking all the way down to the park.

When you arrive you can buy tickets to the park at the Coopealianza.

Warning: The line was extremely long and there is no shade so make sure you bring a hat and cash for some water. There are no ATMs at the National Park, but you can get cash out at the Coopealianza. There are extra fees associated with the transaction, both a commission fee to the teller plus an international transaction fee but you can get out either US Dollars or Costa Rican Colon.

This came in so helpful us, in all the sloth excitement we had forgotten to stop at an ATM before we arrived! Admission into Manuel Antonio National Park is $16 USD, and free for children under 12 years old.

Check out the best places to stay around Manuel Antonio National Park

manuel antonio national park

Guided Tours in Manuel Antonio National Park

We had heard that the best chance of finding a sloth was with the help of a guide. Since we were looking for one we were silly enough to go with the first person who offered us an English tour without questioning anything.

The tour cost $20 USD per person, which would have been fine, except that they did not tell us there would be other people on the tour and we got stuck with some very annoying ignorant families with a lot of screaming children who wanted to find a crocodile (what?!). Not my cup of tea. Our guide was great though, very interesting and so knowledgeable about the park and all of it’s inhabitants.

READ MORE:
Finding the beautiful Río Celeste

The best part about hiring the guide though was that they can spot animals that are so high up and far away that we definitely would have missed on our own. The worst part? He did stop a lot to show us birds and insects which we could not have cared about one single bit. I would definitely recommend trying to find a private guide for a more one on one experience and to focus on what you want to see!

manuel antonio national parksloth in the treessloth in the trees

Our guide did, however help us spot these cheeky black monkeys resting after a morning of getting up to mischief and this sloth lazing on a branch that was right over the main path.

This was the first sloth we found that we could see with our own eyes, not one of their telescopic lenses so it was pretty exciting. Look how relaxed he looks up there!

beach in manuel antonio national parkplaya manuel antonio

Playa Manuel Antonio

Playa Manuel Antonio is like a beautiful bright light at the end of a dark tunnel. After being surrounded by tall dark trees in the jungle of the park, it feels like this breathtaking beach appears out of no where.

We were drenched in sweat from the ridiculously high humidity, so we were beyond excited to see the crystal clear ocean and ran right in. Playa Manuel Antonio is one of the most stunning beaches in Costa Rica, and one of the few with white sand beaches.

It’s the perfect place to cool down and unwind after a hike through the jungle.

Explore all the adventures you can have in Manuel Antonio

mother and baby cloth in costa ricamother and baby cloth in costa rica

The Sloth Trail

After spending a while at Playa Manuel Antonio we started to make our way back to the front of the park and decided to take a walk down The Sloth Trail.

Before we started down the trail I think I even said to Thom that this couldn’t seriously be where the sloths were hiding, on such an obviously named trail.

But BOY OH BOY was I wrong.

We hit the ultimate experience. Not just a close up encounter of a sloth, but an awake, moving sloth, CARRYING A BABY. There are now going to be about a million photos, because it was so exciting and also so so so cute.

mother and baby cloth in costa ricamother and baby sloth in costa rica

We stayed in front of them for ages, just watching them be.

From what I’ve read, sloths only come down from their high branches about once a week to go to the toilet, before retreating back to their comfy home. So to find one coming down for their one toilet trip a week was a pretty big deal! The fact that she had a baby, extraordinary!!!

So many exclamation points but so deserved! It took so long. Probably about 45 minutes I think, from the time we found them in the jungle to the time they got to the bottom of the bamboo stalk.

READ MORE:
An Essential Guide To Manuel Antonio

It was definitely one of my most exciting and memorable wildlife experiences. I’m not 100% sure why, because we have seen elephants and lions in the wild (safari in South Africa is still definitely my favourite experience of all time), but maybe it’s because sloths are such an exotic animal to us – you can’t find them anywhere in Australia!

mother and baby cloth in costa ricasloth climbing down the treemother and baby cloth in costa rica

Tips for visiting Manuel Antonio National Park

Visiting Manuel Antonio was definitely our favourite day and experience in Costa Rica.

To get the most out of your trip remember:

  • The humidity is crazy and that sun it HOT – bring sunscreen and a hat to keep yourself protected.
  • Bring a towel and a change of clothes for after you take a dip in the beach. Struggling back into sweaty clothes after a dip in the ocean is never fun.
  • Make sure you take cash out before you arrive.
  • Bring a camera with a BIG zoom lens – just in case the only sloths you find are hiding high up in the trees.

Manuel Antonio National Park || Open 7am to 4pm Tuesday to Sunday || Ph: +506 2777 5185

READ MORE:
Stories From The Costa Rican Jungle

Explore more of our adventures around Costa Rica

Pin  for later >> 

FINDING SLOTHS IN COSTA RICA

Happy travels,



If you enjoyed this post, we'd love you to SHARE it for us!

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE to our monthly newsletter for exclusive travel tips and a behind the scenes insight into our travels.

Use THIS LINK for $25 AUD off your next hotel stay with booking.com, or THIS LINK for $55 AUD off your first booking with airbnb.

Make sure you check out our TRAVEL RESOURCES for the best deals, booking websites and promo codes to save you money, and our SHOP to browse all of our favourite cameras, tech and travel accessories.

Emma is a travel photographer and blogger, living in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Thom in between adventures. She started Explore Shaw to share her experiences, travel tips and destination advice, and to inspire others to travel the world and their own backyard whenever they can.

All posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Just two twenty-something married Aussies, visiting as many places as we can in between normal life, and hoping to inspire and offer advice for your travel planning.

Where are you exploring next? ✈



subscribe
so you never miss an update!

on the site

latest posts