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Photos of Playa Manuel Antonio Costa Rica (Central Pacific) From Our Personal Collection

Photos of Playa Manuel Antonio Costa Rica (Central Pacific) From Our Personal Collection

Last updated on April 22nd, 2021 at 03:45 pm EST

Playa Manuel Antonio Photos

Playa Manuel Antonio fast facts

  • English name: Manuel Antonio Beach
  • Distance from San Jose: 170km (approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes)
  • Closest Town: Quepos (large town)
  • Beach Status: Public beach (access is granted with payment of a fee; see below for details)

Playa Manuel Antonio beach details

Sand, shade, scenery, and unique features

Playa Manuel Antonio is a medium-size beach blessed with fine, nearly white sand. It is surrounded by vegetation-covered parkland that appears green and lush throughout the year; part of Punta Catedral (Cathedral Point), a vegetation-covered escarpment on park property, can be seen at the south end of the beach. A forested area at the back of the beach provides cooling shade. Monkeys make regular appearances.

Crowds and noise

Playa Manuel Antonio regularly entertains several visitors, mainly because it exists within the boundaries of Costa Rica’s most visited national park. Due to the park’s popularity, crowds and noise can be an issue, and since Playa Manuel Antonio isn’t a large beach, it often feels full.

Cleanliness and Ecological Blue Flag rating

Costa Rica’s Programa Bandera Azul Ecológica (Ecological Blue Flag Program) promotes sustainability and public health (to learn more about the program, see our related blog post: Costa Rica’s Ecological Blue Flag Program: Safe and Sustainable Beaches). Every year, several beaches in Costa Rica compete for top honors, which are bestowed annually according to strict criteria that span the topics of water quality, beach sanitation and garbage disposal, the treatment of industrial waste, beach security, and environmental education. Beaches that participate in the program and meet 90-100% of the eligibility criteria achieve a 1-star rating. Additional efforts invite beaches to achieve 2-star, 3-star, 4-star, or 5-star ratings (5 stars is the highest rating).

In 2019, Playa Manuel Antonio participated in the Programa Bandera Azul Ecológica and received a 3-star rating. You may see the achievement displayed at Playa Manuel Antonio on a sign that reads Playa Galardonada (Award-Winning Beach).

Development at Playa Manuel Antonio

Hotels, restaurants, tours, bathrooms, etc.

The village of Manuel Antonio and the neighboring town of Quepos provide an assortment of establishments, including hotels, restaurants, tour offices, and shops, virtually everything you might want to have at a Costa Rican destination. However, since Playa Manuel Antonio exists within the boundaries of a protected national park, the beach itself is largely void of commercial development. The only development you’ll find directly on the beach are bathrooms, a potable water station, and a few picnic tables.

Playa Manuel Antonio safety

Swimming and water safety

Swimming is allowed at Playa Manuel Antonio. As always, exercise caution in and around the water, especially if you plan to visit with children or inexperienced swimmers.

General safety

Never bring items of value with you to the beach and always keep an eye on your belongings. Remember to lock your rental car if you’ll be leaving one near the park’s entrance. Fortunately, since Playa Manuel Antonio may only be visited during park hours (7:00am-4:00pm Tuesday through Sunday), it is not possible to visit the beach before sunrise or after sunset, which are the most dangerous times of day to visit any Costa Rican beach.

Beware of hungry wildlife

Troops (groups) of white-faced capuchin monkeys are mainstays at Playa Manuel Antonio. The primates regularly forage for food and aren’t shy about taking what they find. Be forewarned: capuchin monkeys will root through your personal belongings, tear open food containers, and make off with your snacks if you leave them unattended. If you plan to swim while at Playa Manuel Antonio, hang or tether your belongings to a tree branch at the back of the beach to keep them from disappearing while you’re out of arm’s reach.

Playa Manuel Antonio location and road conditions

Access to Playa Manuel Antonio and 4×4 requirement

Playa Manuel Antonio is located on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. It falls within the boundaries of Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio (the Manuel Antonio National Park), which sits at the south end of the village of Manuel Antonio.

The paved Road 618 leads a direct path from the town of Quepos to the national park through the village of Manuel Antonio. The official entrance to the national park is at the end of the unnamed side road that juts off Road 618 at the Marlin Restaurant. A 4×4 vehicle is not required to reach the national park.

Map of Playa Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

Parking at Playa Manuel Antonio

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is a busy attraction and the hordes of daily visitors make for limited parking space. There is a parking lot just before the park entrance, however, it is often full of tour buses. Several hotels in the area offer parking spots to park visitors for a fee, typically around $10 USD. Regardless of where you park, you’ll need to enter the national park and walk through the forest on the Manglar trail and the Perezoso trail to reach the beach. To learn more about Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, including the park’s trails, see our related blog post: Why The Manuel Antonio National Park Is Different Than Other Costa Rica National Parks.

Best reason(s) to visit Playa Manuel Antonio

The best reason to visit Playa Manuel Antonio is to enjoy the beach in addition to the other attractions that Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio has to offer, including various nature trails, interesting flora, and ample fauna. A few hours spent lounging on the beautiful, albeit busy, Playa Manuel Antonio is the perfect lazy complement to a day of active nature exploration.

Beach hopping from Playa Manuel Antonio (or alternative beach options in the region)

Recommended day trips from Playa Manuel Antonio include visits to additional beaches inside the national park, like Playa Espadilla Sur, as well as visits to beaches in the Manuel Antonio Vicinity that fall outside the boundaries of the national park, like Playa Espadilla Norte and Playa Biesanz. Alternatively, beaches up or down the coast, including Playa Jaco, Playa Dominical, and Playa Uvita are possible options.

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you been to Playa Manuel Antonio? What did you think?

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Photos of Playa Manuel Antonio Costa Rica (Central Pacific) From Our Personal Collection
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Photos of Playa Manuel Antonio Costa Rica (Central Pacific) From Our Personal Collection
We provide photos of Playa Manuel Antonio Costa Rica (Central Pacific coast), plus info about beach features, safety, location, parking, and more!
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Costa Rica Travel Blog
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