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Caribbean Beaches Guide – Playa Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

By Angela Braun, GoGirlfriend correspondent

Beach 411 ~ Playa Manuel Antonio Beach

Manuel Antonio National Park

  • Beach type: Tourist central
  • Beach geography: Admire pristine horseshoe bays bordered by soft white sands, stunning blue-green waters and hilltops heaping with jungle and streaming waterfalls.
  • Ease of access: Access to the area is possible along Coastal Highway 34 from either the north or south. You’ll have access to a bus system that runs between Quepos and the beach every half hour.
  • Extra costs: Can only be visited with a paid entrance.
  • Beach amenities: No beach amenities
  • Special note: A jungle beach of wildlife, waterfalls and wanderers
  • Geo-locator: Where is Playa Manuel Antonio Beach?

Playa Manuel Antonio BeachBanish boredom at Costa Rica’s activity central beach

Surrounded by tropical forest, Playa Manuel Antonio is charming and magical. From bird-watching, picture-taking, zip-lining and touring, to rafting, fishing, kayaking and horseback riding, Playa Manuel Antonio literally has it all. Oven-fired pizza, grilled or blackened snook, Tex-Mex, saucy French fare – all kinds of flavorful foods can also be enjoyed here.

Only 600 visitors are allowed in the park per day, so if you visit during peak season (starting in December), come early in the morning. As this is one of Costa Rica’s most popular beach destinations, it’s not the beach for an off-the-beaten path experience. Also, you’ll want to keep an eye on your belongings at all times because theft is an ongoing problem, not just by humans but also by white faced monkeys with grumbling tummies.

Playa Manuel Antonio activities

grab a bite at El Gran EscapeYou might just forget to relax and enjoy yourself as you take part in swimming, sunning, diving, snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, hiking or zip lining. Reel in a fish for dinner and have your catch cooked downtown at the Banco Bar or Dos Locos. Wake yourself up at Café Milagro, taste the best homemade desserts at El Gran Escape, take part in happy hour at El Gato Negro or enjoy Marlin’s Restaurant or Balu’s on the beach.

Playa Manuel Antonio attractions

When visiting, you might just end up spending all of your time in the Manuel Antonio National Park. Here, you’ll have the rare opportunity to spot all 4 types of monkey – spider, howler, white-face and the endangered squirrel monkey. You might even come face to face with a sloth. Go on an outdoor adventure, tour on a Segway with Segway Tours of Costa Rica or fly down Costa Rica’s single longest zip line at El Santuario.

Playa Manuel Antonio nightlife

ahhhh ... Costa Rica's beaches!Things heat up around midnight when the party crowd moves from Manuel Antonio to Quepos due to a noise regulation that prohibits music to protect the wildlife (and hotel guests who prefer quiet) in the area. Delicious coconut margaritas and the best daiquiris in town can be had at Mar Luna along with a variety of other 2-for-1 drink specials. Packaged together to offer a jungle-like feel are salsa, dance and live music at Bambu Jam. EL Sol is the place to go for drinks with an ocean view and the perfect roof top deck for stargazing. Cool down at Wacky Wandas Bar Central – the only air conditioned bar in downtown Quepos. Sargento Garcia’s and Doc Locos are also great go-to locations for nightlife. Keep in mind that as long as you are in Quepos you’ll be sure to find more than just one avenue to match your style.

GoGirlfriend Playa Manuel Antonio hotel recommendations

Gaia Hotel and ReserveGaia Hotel & Reserve: Surrounded by rainforest and wildlife are air-conditioned, neutral-toned rooms with wood and wicker furnishings. Gaia Hotel & Reserve features everything from a spa area with a steam bath, sauna and beauty salon, to an outdoor pool, a 20-minute complementary spa treatment and an overall stay that is chic and luxurious. Visit Gaia Hotel & Reserve on Facebook and Twitter and read reviews on TripAdvisor.

Arenas Del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest ResortArenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort: Features a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, spa, internet as well as tropical gardens. Choose between rooms offering a terrace with a Jacuzzi, a private deck with or without a hot tub and views of the ocean or the rainforest. Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort has been awarded 5 stars for luxury and sustainability. Visit Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort on Facebook and Twitter and read reviews on TripAdvisor.

the unique Hotel Costa VerdeHotel Costa Verde: Features 3 cliffside pools with sundecks and spacious rooms, studios and bungalows, all offering balconies with a bird's-eye view of the park's coastline or rainforest canopy where toucans, sloths, coatis and monkeys can be spotted. A rare design, four unique restaurants and abundant wildlife also define this accommodation. Visit Hotel Costa Verde on Facebook and Twitter and read reviews on TripAdvisor.

For more hotel recommendations throughout Manuel Antonio we recommend visiting Booking.com.

Costa Rica weather

Costa Rica weatherTemperatures remain stable throughout the year with average daytime highs in the upper 80s to low 90s and nighttime lows dropping to the upper 70s. During dry season, which extends from November to April, you can expect splendid blue skies, heat and non-stop sunshine. If you visit between May and October you can expect daily showers.

For more information or help planning your next Costa Rica getaway, visit:

Read our other Costa Rica beach guides:

Ever been to Playa Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica? We'd love hear what you love about it! Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook – and let's continue the conversation!

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