The Best Beaches in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

by Micki
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The best beaches in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica are among the most beautiful in the world, with plenty of wildlife, clear water, and lush forests.

Manuel Antonio National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist attractions. The Park is known for its abundance of wildlife and tropical forest teeming with animals. It’s only a couple of hours from the capital, San Jose, making access convenient.

The Best Beaches in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

You’ll need to pay the park entrance fee (of almost $18 USD) to access any of the beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park.

The Best Beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park (Espadilla beach Aerial view)
Aerial View of Tropical espadilla beach and Coastline near the Manuel Antonio national park, Costa Rica.

Beaches inside the park itself are generally quieter than beaches outside the park borders, as the entrance fee to the park deters quite a few people.

Monkeys will try to steal your belongings.

It’s a hugely popular Park, and rightly so. Even better it’s reasonably easy to get transportation to and from Manuel Antonio to San Jose airport.

Manuel Antonio Beach (inside the Park)

The namesake Manuel Antonio Beach is right inside Manuel Antonio National Park. It’s a sandy beach popular with swimmers. As you’d expect from a beach inside this park, it’s ringed with lush trees and foliage filled with birds, monkeys, and other wildlife.

Escondido Beach

Like Manuel Antonio Beach, Escondido Beach is inside Manuel Antonio National Park. The beach is a lovely cove, surrounded by jungle. There’s also a sandy beach and area for swimming.

There are plenty of walking trails leading into the jungle, making exploration easy.

Escondido is generally quieter than other beaches within the park.

Three toed juvenile sloth in Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica DP

Playa Espadilla Sur (Espadilla South Beach)

Playa Espadilla Sur is inside Manuel Antonio Park itself. It’s probably the beach that visitors to Manuel Antonio Park enjoy the most. Despite being so well liked, Playa Espadilla Sur sees fewer visitors than the often crowded Manuel Antonio Beach.

It’s a long stretch of soft white sand, surrounded by lush jungle.

There are bathrooms here, but no showers. You can also rent sports equipment here.

Playa Espadilla Sur Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica
Espadilla south beach

Playa Las Gemelas

Located inside Manuel Antonio National Park, Playa Las Gemelas is a beloved, private feeling beach. The sand itself is rockier than Manuel Antonio beach, but visitors love it for the wild and natural feel. There’s plenty of wildlife here, from crabs to huge iguanas, to monkeys, and more.

It’s a quieter beach than some others, though it can get crowded on the weekends.

Vendors don’t often set up camp here, and there are no water taps. Make sure you bring everything you’ll need for the day, as there’s nowhere to buy food or supplies on the beach.

It’s a fairly easy hike to the beach, just to the left of the entrance with a flight of stairs.

Playa Manuel Antonio (outside of the National Park)

Confusingly, there are two beaches in the area, both called Playa Manuel Antonio (or Manuel Antonio Beach). This is the beach that’s outside of the National Park, near the entrance.

You’ll often encounter people trying to charge you entrance to this beach. Often, they’ll say that the National Park is all sold out, and you can’t enter. You’ll then be charged for parking. Prices for food and chairs on the beach are also often expensive.

Prices and hassles aside, the beach itself is lovely.

You can take surfing lessons here, and it’s popular with beginners.

Playa Espadilla

Playa Espadilla is just outside of the confines of Manuel Antonio National Park. Because there’s no park entrance fee here, this is one of the busiest beaches in the area.

There are plenty of amenities here, from restaurants to massages to sports equipment to restrooms and showers. There’s also good parking near the beach, and lounge chairs with umbrellas.

It’s arguably not the prettiest beach in the area, but it’s still gorgeous, and surrounded by lush vegetation.

Playa Espadilla beach in Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica – beautiful tropical beach

Playa Playitas (inside Manuel Antonio National Park)

Playa Playitas is a smaller beach outside the Park, with white sand and plenty of wildlife. There’s plenty to do here, from horseback riding to paragliding, massages, and restaurants.

Access is a little tricky, with a 4×4 recommended for the dirt road. There’s a parking lot, where locals will offer to guard your car for a small fee.

Playa Espadilla Norte

Playa Espadilla Norte (Espadilla North Beach) is a gorgeous stretch of sand, and hugely popular.

You’ll need to access Playa Espadilla Norte by 4×4, and it’s much quieter than easier access beaches nearer the Park. That said, it can still be busy on weekends.

The waves can be a bit bigger here, and you can see people surfing. Because of that, you’ll see fewer families here than at calmer beaches.

White Faced Capuchin Monkey in Manuel Antonio Park Costa Rica
White Faced Capuchin Monkey in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

Playitas Beach (outside the Park)

It’s hard to pick the prettiest beach in the area, but Playitas is definitely a contender. This is an idyllic sandy beach surrounded by lush vegetation. Visitors often see monkeys, iguanas, sloths and other wildlife.

There can be an undertow and larger waves here, so use caution.

You’ll need to walk to this beach, or access with a 4×4.

Playa Biesanz (Biesanz Beach)

Playa Biesanz is well known outside of the Park, but somehow manages to stay fairly quiet. It’s sometimes called Hidden Beach.

To access, park on the road and walk down the trail to the beach. There’s also a lot where you can pay locals to watch your car.

It’s a smaller beach, with locals selling food and drink. You can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas, and water sports equipment. There are often sloths and capuchin monkeys in the trees.

The water is generally calm.

Aerial View of  Biesanz beach Manuel Oantonia Costa Rica
Playa Biesanz

Playa Tulemar

Playa Tulemar is a private beach on a gated resort, outside of the park itself. It’s within walking distance to restaurants and shopping.

It’s a lovely spot, as you’d expect, with soft white sand and clear water.

Because it’s part of the resort, you can get beach chairs and umbrellas, food and drink, and water sports gear here.

Playa La Mancha

Playa la Mancha is a remote beach, with about a 45 minute hike from the Bongo hotel. The path can be challenging, with reports that sections can be cut off by a landslide.

It’s clothing optional.

There are reports of thefts here.

Love the beach? Check out our other articles:

Do you have a favorite beach in Manuel Antonio? Let us know in the comments!

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