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Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in Animals, Attempts at Humor, Costa Rica, Mammals, Tips | 17 comments

The Monkeys of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

The Monkeys of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

We finally made it to Manual Antonio Park and according to the guide books Manual Antonio or MA, for short, is a must see National Park. MA’s jungle reaches to the beach and both land and ocean are teeming with wildlife.  We were most excited, along with a few of the other tourists (about 99% of them), to see the monkeys.

There are 4 species of monkey (that are talked about) in Costa Rica and 3 of these 4 are found in MA. Being the Naturalists that we are, it may not surprise you to learn that we identified 2 monkeys not mentioned in any book we have ever read on Costa Rica. It may be because of the negative effect they might have on tourism.

The 5 Monkeys of Manuel Antonio Park

001 White Headed CapuchinThe White-headed Capuchin Monkey

This monkey loves the lime light and because of his success in the film industry has become a prima donna.

The monkey has  starred as Marcel on the TV show Friends and had major roles in the movies: Outbreak. Raiders of the Lost Ark and the feel good hit of 1988 Monkey Shines.

This penchant for being selected in films has made the WHC Monkey want more than his fair-share of attention. What is yours, he feels is his and what’s his is his.

Just open a bag of peanut M&M’s within a 30 feet radius of a WHC and see what happens.

BTW – do not feed the monkeys human food. It only encourages them.

001 Howler

The Mantled Howler

The Mantled Howler Monkey, or just Howler Monkey for short, is a bit of a recluse. He is jealous of the WHC Monkeys success and has chosen to remain hidden in the jungle rather than seek out humans.

The Howler Monkey tried to make it in movies but was relegated to just providing voice overs, mostly for low-budget horror movies which are set in a jungle.

He thought he would make it big with the popularity of Jurasic Park as he provided the voice for some of the dinosaurs. Instead, he was just made fun of by the other monkeys and so he sulks in the jungle.

You may catch a glimpse of a Howler, like I did for this shot. Most likely though, you will just hear him moaning, howling, over his plot in life, sounding a lot like I would imaging a dinosaur would.



001 Squirrel MonkeyThe Central American Squirrel Monkey

This monkey is a free-spirit. Free from the trappings of fame he spends his days frolicking in the jungle. Running across monkey bridges that hang over the street that goes to Manual Antonio. And doing cartwheels across roofs of homes in the area.

The only thing that really gets The Squirrel Monkey down is people’s incessant mistake of calling him a Spider Monkey.

He is NOT a Spider Monkey.

Spider Monkeys are the only monkey that is found in Costa Rica that is not found in Manual Antonio.

Squirrel YES    Spider NO


The next 2 monkeys I have not found described in any guidebook. So I figured I would do the researchers of Costa Rica National Parks a service and document them. If you go to MA you will undoubtedly run into these monkeys and they will, most likely, annoy the heck out of you.


001 Car Guy UseThe Manual Antonio Parking Monkey

This monkey displays a reverse-territorial role. He doesn’t protect his territory he invites you to share it. No, he DEMANDS that you share it and demands a bit of money as well.

He will shout and gesture and wave his arms to get you to go into his parking lot. When you don’t, he will step in front of your vehicle while you stick your head out of the car window to tell him it is not necessary.

He will then grab a police person to help encourage you into the lot.

Once you tell the police person that your hotel is beyond the parking lot, and at the end of the street with its own parking that is gratis, the parking monkey steps aside and, reluctantly, allows you through.

You tell the hotel about the monkey you just saw and they agree, the parking monkeys are becoming a nuisance.


001 Use SouvThe Manual Antonio Souvenir Monkey

The Souvenir Monkey, like all except the Parking Monkey, like to find you when you are eating. Unlike the WHC, the SM likes to find you in a restaurant.

Maybe he likes to see what you are going to order, because he usually comes up to the table as you are about to place your order. The sound the SM makes is unlike the call of any of the other monkeys. Like a bird trying to chirp while gargling water.

It must be the strange plastic-looking, bird-shaped appendage that protrudes from his mouth. Certainly an oddity in the animal kingdom.

I will tell you this. The SM does sell some interesting items and if you are shrewd enough you can get a really good deal. Not to toot my own horn but I was able to negotiate a 3 pack of Cohiba cigars down to $5. You don’t need to tell me how good I am.



Manual Antonio Park is a beautiful place to spend a day or 2. You have the opportunity to see many animals: sloths, coati, a ton of birds, crabs and fish and yes, 5 different types of monkeys.

If you like my (attempts at) humor, you may like these posts.

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Greg Seymour is a quitter. At 41 Greg and his wife Jen quit their jobs, sold damn near everything they owned and became Intentionally Unemployed and retired early to Costa Rica.
In addition to writing on this blog, Greg has written for other online publications and has written two popular books about living in Costa Rica:
Greg Seymour Amazon Author Page

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  1. Your blog was entertaining and a lesson in nature. I really enjoy your style of writing. thanks

    • Thanks Elizabeth,

      I really appreciate the compliment and feedback.

  2. I enjoyed your dissertation on monkeyology. How did you get to MA? Sounds like you were in a car? Did you see any sea monkeys?

    • Thanks Sal. We went with friends who drove their car. There is bus service to Quepos and you can take a short taxi from there into MA. Or hire a driver for the day. We have hired the driver for the day a couple of times and while it is expensive you don’t have to worry about a thing.

  3. Interesting article by all means. Really enjoyed the insights on monkey behavior, but the last two monkeys seemed most auspicious. Thanks for the laugh, Gregorio

    • Thanks for reading paintshack! This one was brewing ever since we went to MA in November, but you know how busy I am… Lol. It my very own brand of public service announcement – people should know before they go.

      • Definitely looking forward to your future post. You have me convinced i need to retire there. Keep calm and Costa Rica on!

        • Well, CR isn’t a fit for everyone. In fact we see people come and go frequently. After a year here, it feels right for us… for now. From the beginning we said we would give living here 3 years – love it or hate it – to get a good grasp of the country. If I can help with any questions shoot me an email.

  4. The parking monkeys in M.A. go by another name as well…The Watch-e-Car-ee monkeys!! LOL..Thanks!!

    • Correct… or the WatchiMon(key) – they are all over the place but the sub-species in tourist areas are much more aggressive.

  5. I had seen some of those monkeys in the wild, but never known their proper names before. The souvenir monkey will retreat if you throw poop at him.

  6. Interesting take on the local wildlife

  7. Howlers make a horrifying noise. This looks like a fun primate adventure. 🙂

    • MA is a blast, even with the annoyance of some of the monkeys and yes, the howlers sound most ominous.

  8. Those Parking Monkeys seem to be rampant all over the country.

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