Looking for a quiet, off the beaten path beach just an 1 and 1/2 hours from San Jose, Playa Mantas Costa Rica is the place to go. Bathwater temperature, soft waves, and turquoise water- and did we mention few tourists?
One of our favorite things to do is discover new, family friendly beaches throughout Costa Rica. Playa Mantas is a little-known beach off the beaten track but close to the Central Valley. It’s the perfect day trip for a family with young children, or a great getaway from the busy Jaco beach just 13 kilometers south. Here are all the details for you to plan your perfect day at Playa Mantas Costa Rica.
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 and Dominical. Playa Mantas is situated near the famous, Costa Rican-owned all-inclusive report called Punta Leona, about 13 kilometers north of Jaco Beach.
How To Get 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, pizza place, Pops ice cream shop and then finally arriving at a small parking lot.
Parking 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.
Services Offered at Playa Mantas
Plan to bring what you need to Playa Mantas. There is ample shade under trees, so we didn’t use our umbrella, but we definitely used our beach chairs. We packed a picnic lunch, cold water, drinks and snacks 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.
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.
Tip: Pack What You Need When I walked over to the North end of the beach to fly my drone, I noticed a little supermarket just off the beach. I didn’t go in, but was glad to know it was there.
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 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!
Looking for more family-friendly Costa Rican beaches? Check out more of our faves!
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