The Environment Ministry (MINAE) has recently announced the issuance of an executive decree that will result in changes to entry schedules for Manuel Antonio National Park. The park, which is the most visited national park in Costa Rica, will now be open Tuesdays to Sundays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
La Gaceta, the official newspaper, published Executive Decree No. 39048 following recommendations from the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) in response to an increasing number of visitors to the park. According to SINAC, more than 360,000 visitors toured the park last year. SINAC Executive Director Julio Jurado has stated that the weekly closures are necessary for restoration, rehabilitation, and recovery of ecosystems of the park, which is located in the Central Pacific region of the Puntarenas province. The once-a-week closures will also serve as a preventive measure to ensure the conservation of the park’s spectacular natural resources.
Previously, the park closed once a week during the low season. Due to pressure from local business owners, that measure was revoked. As a result of the new decree, SINAC will be able to take necessary steps to prevent excessive pressure on the park’s natural resources while simultaneously maintaining sustainable usage of Manuel Antonio’s services.
SINAC took protective measures earlier this year by banning the entry of food into the park. Over the years, visitors of the park have developed a habit of feeding wild animals, which has led to problems that have included changes in the eating habits of several species, severe pollution, and the facilitation of disease transmission.
As one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio was ranked among the 12 most beautiful national parks in the world by Forbes magazine. Manuel Antonio beach was ranked 17th among the most beautiful beaches in the world by TripAdvisor.