When you imagine stunning costal shores edged by verdant forest in Costa Rica, you’re probably picturing one place in particular: the epic Manuel Antonio National Park. While this is one of the smaller national parks in Costa Rica weighing in at a modest 4,900 acres, don't let it's size fool you, it is one of the most amazing parks in the world.

If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, it's positively teeming with exotic wildlife, vivid fauna, and packed with things to do for the whole family.

Photo Credit: www.insightguides.com

Walk on the Wild Side

Manuel Antonio has a higher concentration of wildlife than any other park in the country, and it isn’t hard to find all sorts of exotic mammals and reptiles such as three-toed sloths, howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, bats, iguanas, basilisks, and snakes. For every ground-dweller, there’s at least one bird: toucans, tanagers, woodpeckers, parakeets, and hawks, just to name a few.

There are many animal sightseeing tours you can take, which can involve buses, bike riding, mountain biking, ATVs, hiking, or a simple stroll through the tropical forest. There are also places that will take you on guided horseback tours. And that’s just on land: hop in the ocean with a snorkel or some SCUBA gear and see if you can swim with dolphins or catch a glimpse of a migrating whale. It’s impossible to say which excursion or tour is the best. Many of them are family friendly, and all depends on your interests.

Photo Credit: lamansioninn.com

Take a Load Off

Chasing monkeys through the jungle is certainly exciting, but sometimes you just want to chill. Manuel Antonio Park also boasts world-renowned white sand beaches just beckoning you to come stay for awhile. It’s almost impossible to just pick just one favorite, but Playa Manuel Antonio did just win a Traveller’s Choice Award from TripAdvisor.com.

Lounge on the hot sand, go for a dip around the reefs, or find a secluded cove walled in by thick forest. If you’re looking to lounge, you’ve picked an excellent spot.

Photo Credit: http://ticotourandtravel.com/

Soar Through the Jungle

Ready for some more action? One of the coolest and most exhilarating things you can do is soar through the treetops on a canopy tour at El Santuario. They have the longest zip line in Costa Rica — a whopping 4,300 feet long — and you can race friends and family down. If you’re nervous, don’t be: these guys have the latest and greatest safety technology, and are completely bilingual to explain exactly what to do.

If you’d like to do more than zip lining, there are many places that offer rope courses, rappelling, and rock climbing. Find what you want and go for it!

Photo Credit: ticoticocr.com

Fly Down Stream

Raging river activities like white water rafting, kayaking, and canoeing are hugely popular in Costa Rica, and Manuel Antonio Park makes for a beautiful backdrop to take on an aquatic adventure. “Amigos Del Rio” is one of the more popular companies that can set you up.

If you’re feeling extra extreme, you could always try your hand at kite surfing. Depending on the weather, the sport is fairly dangerous, but is incredibly fun once you get the hang of it. Located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, surfing is also wildly popular. New to the sport? There are plenty of surf schools that can teach you how to catch some gnar waves, bro.