The central Pacific coastline is perfect for combining exploration and relaxation. The small and superb Manuel Antonio National Park features lush rainforest fringed by beautiful beaches and rocky headlands. Its wildlife includes white-faced capuchins, howler and squirrel monkeys, toucans, sloths and agoutis. A number of hotels, located on the forested cliffs between the town of Quepos and the park, provide panoramic ocean views and easy access to the beaches. The Carara National Park to the north, bordered by the Tarcoles river, lies in a transitional zone between dry and tropical forests, and is home to crocodiles, monkeys, macaws and frogs.
Further south towards Dominical and Uvita the less visited coastline gets wilder. The Ballena Marine National Park protects coral and rocky reefs and is great for spotting turtles, dolphins and whales, which migrate here to mate between December and April.