Four hour’s drive from San Jose on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific, Manuel Antonio is one of the country’s most beautiful national parks. Established in 1972, it covers close to 2000 hectares of tropical rainforest which spills onto golden beaches and rocky coves. Off shore, desert islands are locked in coral reef and harbour dolphins and migrating whales alike. Despite its relatively small size, the wildlife is simply extraordinary. Over 109 species of mammals including Two- and Three-toed sloth, coati, howler and squirrel monkeys have all been recorded along with 200 species of birds from toucans, parakeets, woodpeckers to vultures. Not surprisingly, Manuel Antonio is one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations and the park’s main hub, Quepos, boasts a good range of tourist facilities. North of Manuel Antonio, Jaco is a 4km stretch of palm-fringed coastline popular with surfers and locals alike. Further south, the picturesque “whale-tail” shape of Uvita beach is a charming spot and ideal for those looking for a more secluded and exclusive beach destination.