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Jaco Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica- but it can be crowded and the waves can get big at high tide. Many people look for a nearby beach that’s perfect for kids- and that’s where Playa Mantas, Costa Rica comes in. Just a few minutes from Jaco, this beach boasts calm waves, ample parking, and gorgeous turquoise water. Here’s exactly how to visit this beach.
Our family absolutely loves to visit Jaco beach- it’s one of the best places to stay in Costa Rica. There are lots of reasons- there are tons of things to do in Jaco, there are great accommodations in Jaco, and it’s super close to San Jose. (It’s a great San Jose day trip if you aren’t planning to spend the night!)
It’s a great place to see wildlife on a crocodile tour or a day trip to Isla Tortuga. Oh, and eating in Jaco is divine-there are tons of international restaurants and lots of traditional Costa Rican food too.
What we don’t always love about Jaco is the beach. While the south end of the beach has much calmer waves, there are lots of people and the waves can get to insane heights. There’s a pretty decent rip tide, and it’s not always the best beach for young children.
But- the location is perfect. So we decided to explore the area and find some hidden beaches that might be good for kids and families and were within 10-15 minutes of Jaco. And boy did we stumble upon a gem!
Bathwater temperature water, soft waves, and turquoise clear- and did we mention very few tourists?
Where Is Playa Mantas Located?
Playa Mantas is located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in the Puntarenas province, which also includes beaches such as Jaco Beach, Quepos, Manuel Antonio, Dominical and Uvita. Playa Mantas is situated near the famous, Costa Rican-owned all-inclusive report called Punta Leona, about 13 kilometers north of Jaco Beach.
Go To Playa Mantas
Playa Mantas is off of Route 34, the intercoastal highway that also leads to Jaco and Quepos. The easiest way to get there from San Jose is through Atenas via Route 27, a well-maintained toll road. Make sure to have local currency for this– you’ll need in total around $10 (6,000 colones) if you drive the whole route there and back.
Tip: Follow the traffic signs to Jaco. Don’t miss the famed crocodile bridge above the Tarcoles River. Once you’ve passed the Tarcoles bridge, you will continue to head south about 15 more minutes until you see the large Punta Leona resort entrance. The next turnoff leads to Playa Mantas.
Once you’ve turned off the main road you will see a small supermarket on your left, and then the road will become dirt for about a kilometer. There are tons of speed bumps on this road, and they are hard to see so take your time. The road is in good condition and should be passable in a passenger vehicle if you are willing to take your time.
The road will become paved, and you will pass several residential homes, a grocery store, a pizza place, Pops ice cream shop, and then finally arrive at a small parking lot.
Park At Playa Mantas Costa Rica
Most beach parking lots in Costa Rica are watched over by a local man, called a “wachiman” with whom you can negotiate a parking fee for the day. Playa Mantas for some reason has a large gated parking lot that charges 1,000 colones per hour, which is just under $2.
We didn’t want to pay that fee since we were staying all day and we would have paid over 10,000 colones. We paid close attention to the “no parking” signs and found a spot that was both free and not in violation of the no parking zones.
Tip: Get there early. If you are visiting Playa Mantas on the weekend plan to get there super early as the parking is scarce.
Pack For Playa Mantas
We packed a picnic lunch, cold water, drinks and snacks into a beach tote and portable cooler bag and spent all day on the beach. There are no bathrooms, restaurants, showers or other services on the beach. There are trash cans so you don’t have to pack out your trash.
Check out our Ultimate Costa Rican Packing List for more ideas on what to pack for Costa Rica with kids.
We had several wildlife visitors including ants, crows, a cute goldfish and an iguana. Definitely wrap up your food tightly and dispose of food trash away from your beach spot if you want to avoid having visitors around your site for the whole day.
When is the Best Time To Visit Playa Mantas?
The best time to visit Playa Mantas is during the week, as there are very few people around. It is also much easier to park at Playa Mantas Costa Rica during the week. We did see an influx of people arriving at Playa Mantas in the afternoon, so we were glad we had a parking spot and a beach spot early on. Since this beach is not touristy but well known by locals, Sunday will be your busiest day, followed by Saturday.
I loved seeing the morning sun reflected off the water at Playa Mantas. The water across the beach looked perfectly turquoise with a bit of emerald blue swirled in. It was pure heaven.
The water is super clear- we could see our toes all the way down. Low tide means you can walk quite a bit out into the ocean and still be in water about 7″ deep.
Sunset at Playa Mantas is truly incredible, as the sun sets over the south end of the beach.
Tip: You Can Walk To Another Beach. At low tide, you can walk over to neighboring Playa Blanca (one of Costa Rica’s top white sand beaches) to the south, a great place for snorkeling. At high tide, there are some fun tide pools at the south end of the beach to explore. And it’s always a good time for shelling!
Is Playa Mantas free?
Yes, all beaches in Costa Rica, by law are free and open to the public. However, given the location of the beach you will need to pay for parking if you arrive by private vehicle.
Can I buy food at Playa Mantas?
Yes- there is a convienience store at the main entrance to Playa Mantas that will sell just about everything you need- even beach toys, towels and chairs. There is a pizza restaurant and ice cream shop open in the evenings at the main entrance as well.
How far is Playa Mantas from Jaco?
Playa Mantas is about 13 kilometers from Jaco. A quick day trip will take you between 15-20 minutes from the Jaco city center to the parking lot at Playa Mantas. You could easily take a taxi to and from Jaco if you do not rent a car.
Looking for more family-friendly Costa Rican beaches? Check out our faves!
HIDDEN BEACH NEXT TO PLAYA MANTAS: Playa Blanca – Best White Sand Beach In Costa Rica
FREE BEACH ON FOUR SEASONS PROPERTY: Playa Nacascolo Beach
OUR FAVORITE GUANACASTE BEACH WITH KIDS: Playa Ocotal
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Welcome! I’m Christa, a former high school teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. I love all things Spanish and bi-cultural, (especially travel and food!) and you’ll find my observations on life here. Thanks for stopping by