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The 10 Best Beaches in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica – Guide, Map & More

The 10 Best Beaches in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica – Guide, Map & More

The Manuel Antonio region of Costa Rica is home to some of the best beaches in the country. From their golden sand to their emerald waters to their underwater life, these beaches have it all.

This guide will go over 10 of the best beaches in Manuel Antonio and how to go about a visit to each one of them.

So, if you are planning a trip to Costa Rica and want to add some Manuel Antonio beaches to the itinerary, you have come to the right place.

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List of Beaches in Manuel Antonio

Let’s first start off with the list of the 10 Manuel Antonio beaches that I will dive more into throughout this guide.

There is a very important distinction though between where these beaches are located in Manuel Antonio – either within Manuel Antonio National Park (MANP) or outside of it.

Within the Manuel Antonio region, there is what is called the Manuel Antonio National Park. The National Park is a protected area of land that has certain opening hours, entrance fees, and visitor limitations.

Some of the beaches are within the confines of Manuel Antonio National Park, while other beaches are outside of the National Park, just alongside Manuel Antonio town.

If you want to visit the beaches within Manuel Antonio National Park, you will need to pay the entrance fee and travel at certain times of day during the Park’s opening hours.

The other beaches on the list are not part of the National Park, so you do not need to worry about the stricter regulations.

While it may seem annoying that some of the top beaches in the area are within a regulated national park that requires an entrance fee, I assure you it is worth the visit.

Not only do you get the beautiful 4 beaches within Manuel Antonio National Park, but you also get a plethora of wildlife and hiking trails to enjoy.

I spent two days exploring the National Park, hitting the hiking trails in the morning, and relaxing on the beaches in the afternoon. I would highly recommend doing the same during your visit to the area.

Things To Do: Learn more about the area and some of the best things to do in Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio National Park Beaches

  • Playa Espadilla Sur Beach
  • Playa Manuel Antonio Beach
  • Playa Las Gemelas Beach
  • Playa Escondido Beach

Manuel Antonio Beaches (outside of MANP)

  • Playa Espadilla Beach
  • Playa Biesanz Beach
  • Playa Tulemar Beach
  • Playa La Macha Beach
  • Playa La Vaca Beach
  • Playa Playitas Beach
Playa Espadilla Sur Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio Beaches Map

Below you can find a helpful Manuel Antonio map pinpointing all the beaches mentioned above. I split them out into two sections.

The first set highlighted in red are those beaches within Manuel Antonio National Park, and the ones in blue are the beaches outside of the Park.

Manuel Antonio National Park Things to Know

Here are just a few helpful things to know regarding Manuel Antonio National Park. Since the first four beaches I will speak about are within the Park, it will be helpful to understand what the park is all about.

  • Entrance Fee: ~$18 USD
  • Tickets: Purchase online through SINAC
  • Parking Fee: ~$6 USD
  • Hours: 7:00AM – 4:00PM
  • Days Closed: Tuesday
  • Restrooms: 3 locations
  • Food Restrictions: Only non alcoholic beverages are allowed in
  • Cafeteria: there is a small cafeteria to buy select foods and drinks
  • Restrictions: No surfboards, beach umbrellas, chairs, coolers, sports balls
  • Other Availabilities: showers, picnic tables, water refill station, lockers
Playa Biesanz Costa Rica

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Let’s now get into the beaches themselves. The first four beaches are within the National Park, and the last six are outside of it.

1) Playa Espadilla Sur Beach

The first beach on the list is Playa Espadilla Sur Beach located within Manuel Antonio National Park. When you arrive at the main entrance, simply follow the main trail (marked Bahia on the park’s maps), and make your way through the park.

The trail is super easy to follow and just takes 15 minutes to reach Playa Espadilla Sur Beach. Be sure to follow the signs here as there are other trails as well.

Playa Espadilla Sur Beach is the largest/longest of beaches within Manuel Antonio National Park and you should have plenty of options to find a spot that works well for you.

It is a beautiful long stretch of beach with the rainforest meeting the beach. There will be some beautiful views of the coastline in both directions along with some rock formations further out in the water.

Compared to its northern end, which I will talk about later (Playa Espadilla), this beach is much quieter and more peaceful to enjoy.

Playa Espadilla Sur Beach

2) Playa Manuel Antonio Beach

Just on the other side of Playa Espadilla Sur Beach you will find the smaller, but just as beautiful Playa Manuel Antonio Beach.

Between the two you will find the Punta Cathedral, which is home to a hiking trail with various viewpoints along the route.

As you make the way from Playa Espadilla Sur to Playa Manuel Antonio, I would highly recommend taking part of the trail.

As you complete the trail around, it meets up with Playa Manuel Antonio, where you will be greeted by another great place to spend some time.

The crystal clear waters hitting the golden sand, which meets up directly with the rainforest behind it is quite a place to enjoy within the park.

Since this is in the National Park, the beach is very clean and the water is a great place to swim in. Relaxing on the sand here with the wildlife all around, makes Playa Manuel Antonio Beach one of the best in the area.

Be on the lookout for lots of wildlife including some sneaky monkeys who try to steal your bags, looking for food to eat!

Playa Manuel Antonio Beach

3) Playa Las Gemelas Beach

Towards the far end of Playa Manuel Antonio, there are additional trails that head further into the National Park. One of those trails leads to the small and secluded Playa Las Gemelas Beach.

This beach is certainly smaller than the previous beaches mentioned but at the same time, does feel much more “off the grid”.

During my time passing through the beach, I only saw a couple people in the sand and water, essentially having the entire place to themselves.

At the entrance of the beach there is a helpful signboard that gives a bit of background to the beach. The sign reads:

“The beach is divided in two by a rock formation that, with the years, has come to face the sea, making it possible to observe in its sand small fragments of stone which were detached from the mother rock and now dance with the movement of the waves.

The waters from the creek merged with sea currents, the wind and the movements of tectonic plaques have given life to these twin beaches, making them change with time. Even though it seems to be moving slowly, the beach is alive and home to many species.”

Playa Las Gemelas Beach

4) Playa Escondido Beach

The last beach within Manuel Antonio National Park is called Playa Escondido Beach. This also happens to be the least accessible one and can only be accessed during low tide.

I wouldn’t plan on heading to the beach itself though as it is no longer on the “official” hiking trails of the National Park.

However, you can still get a great viewpoint from above at the end of the Puerto Escondido Trail.

If you are looking to head down to the beach, I would recommend speaking to a park ranger to understand what the safest route would be.

Playa Escondido Beach

5) Playa Espadilla Beach

Let’s now move out of Manuel Antonio National Park and towards the beaches just nearby the town center.

The main beach that you are sure to pass by during your time around Manuel Antonio is called Playa Espadilla Beach. This is by far the longest of beaches around the area and spans 3 kilometers in length.

All along the outskirts of the beach you will find hotels, bars, restaurants and more to enjoy during your time in the area.

The beach itself will in turn also be the busiest of beaches around Manuel Antonio.

Here you will find plenty of tourists and locals alike setting up umbrellas, chairs, games and more all along the beach front. There is also a lifeguard on duty making it a safe place to swim depending on conditions.

If you look southbound along the beach, you should see the Playa Espadilla Sur Beach out in the distance in addition to the National Park rainforest.

Playa Espadilla Beach

6) Playa Biesanz Beach

One of the local’s favorite beaches outside the National Park is called Playa Biesanz.

The beach is located on what is called Quepos Point, where you will also find one of the best hotels in the area – Parador Resort & Spa – click the link for booking options!

Along the way to the resort, there is a turn off point towards this “hidden beach”. If coming with a car, you can park off to the side of the road and pay a small fee to have someone “look after” your car. From there it is short walk through the rainforest to get down to the beach.

The beach itself though is surrounded by lush greenery all around and beautiful clear water to enjoy.

You can also rent paddle boards, kayaks, chairs, and snorkeling gear from the folks who look after the beach.

In addition, there are even guided kayak/snorkeling tours to enjoy if you want to get further out in the water with someone who knows best.

Playa Biesanz

7) Playa Tulemar Beach

The only truly private beach on this list is called Playa Tulemar, which can be visited if you are staying at one of the resorts nearby.

This will of course be one of the most quiet of beaches as it is not open to the crowds, rather just the guests of the resorts.

There are not really many hotels along the beachfront with their own beach, so a stay at the Tulemar Resort is certainly a luxury.

Feel free to check out the latest booking options for the Tulemar Resort if you want to stay there during a visit to Manuel Antonio.

Tulemar Resort

8/9) Playa La Macha & La Vaca Beach

If you really want to get away from the crowds, then the beaches of La Macha and La Vacha can be great options for you.

These are a couples beaches that follow one after another off the coast just north of Playa Biesanz and Playa Tulemar. They are a bit more difficult to get to as they do require a bit of hiking from the roadside.

But if you are looking for a more secluded beach then these can all be great options for you.

10) Playitas Beach

Last on the list of beaches in Manuel Antonio is Playitas beach, located at the very northern end of Playa Espadilla.

It is the perfect beach to head to if you want to stay on the main strip of Playa Espadilla but want to get a bit further away from the crowds.

The beach itself is separated from the main beach by a bunch of rocks jutting out in the water. Due to this, you can only visit the beach during low tide, when it is safe enough to cross over the rocks.

Alternatively, there is a hotel on the beach as well – Arenas Del Mar Beachfront, which can be accessed by the road. If you have a 4 x 4 car, you can literally drive down right to the beach and park under the palm trees.

Costa Rica Itinerary: Visit these Manuel Antonio beaches as part of a longer 10 Day Costa Rica Itinerary that takes you around the country

Manuel Antonio Beach FAQ

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to the Manuel Antonio beaches.

Does Manuel Antonio Have Nice Beaches?

The answer is yes, Manuel Antonio does have nice beaches. However, each one does offer a bit different of an experience than the next.

Some are open and free to the public, while others are more secluded and part of the National Park.

At the end of the day though, Manuel Antonio certainly has a beach that will fit your criteria when it comes to where you want to spend some time in the sun and water.

How Many Beaches Does Manuel Antonio Have?

Manuel Antonio has at least the 10 beaches mentioned below.

However, there are some smaller beaches and a few that are a bit further out from the town center not mentioned in this guide.

  1. Playa Espadilla Sur Beach
  2. Playa Manuel Antonio Beach
  3. Playa Las Gemelas Beach
  4. Playa Escondido Beach
  5. Playa Espadilla Beach
  6. Playa Biesanz Beach
  7. Playa La Macha Beach
  8. Playa La Vaca Beach
  9. Playa Tulemar Beach
  10. Playa Playitas Beach

Is Manuel Antonio Beach Good for Swimming?

The Manuel Antonio beach within the National Park is a great place for swimming. The beach is a bit more protected than some of the others around the area and is a perfect place to jump into the water.

Always be careful though based on weather conditions and check with the park rangers to make sure all is safe to enjoy.

How Far is Manuel Antonio From the Beach?

Part of the town of Manuel Antonio is all along the main Playa Espadilla Beach, so you can certainly walk to the beach from several hotels.

However, there are also hotels further inland making it a bit harder to walk to the main beach. The drive from the center of Manuel Antonio would be less than 10 minutes to the beach and many hotels offer transport services here.

Is Manuel Antonio Beach Inside the Park?

Yes, the Manuel Antonio Beach is inside the Park. However, as mentioned earlier in this guide, there are several other beaches that are located outside of the park.

It just depends on whether or not you want to head in and explore the park, or just head to the beaches outside the park.

Playa Manuel Antonio

I hope by now you have a better idea of how to visit the best beaches in Manuel Antonio. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to add them in below.

Also don’t forget to check out the other Costa Rica itineraries and guides up on the site such as a visit to Uvita Beach, Corcovado National Park or the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Have fun out there and safe travels!

Best Beaches in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

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