An askew shade tree on the south end of Playa Manuel Antonio in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.

© Colin D. Young/Shutterstock

Playa Manuel Antonio

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio & Around

With its turquoise waters, this lovely forest-backed beach fronts a deep bay, sheltered by the Punta Catedral on the west side and a promontory on the east. Families love to watch the monkeys playing in the trees behind the beach; ropes have been set up for them to walk on. This is the best beach for swimming.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio & Around attractions

1. Turtle Trap

0.19 MILES

At the western end of Playa Manuel Antonio you can see a semicircle of rocks at low tide. Archaeologists believe that these were arranged by pre-Columbian…

2. Playa Espadilla Sur

0.27 MILES

A half-hour hike from the park entrance, the exposed Playa Espadilla Sur is to the north of Punta Catedral and gorgeous with pinch-me scenes of white sand…

3. Playa Gemelas

0.31 MILES

Clasped by volcanic rock and jungle, Playa Gemelas is smaller than the other beaches, but no less spectacular: this place could be a desert island beach…

4. Punta Catedral

0.35 MILES

Geography fun fact: this isthmus, which is the centerpiece of the park, is called a tombolo and was formed by the accumulation of sand between the…

5. Playa Puerto Escondido

0.58 MILES

Visitors may visit a lookout over this gorgeous horseshoe-shaped beach, but the access point via the Sendero Puerto Escondido was closed indefinitely in…

6. Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

0.64 MILES

Featuring lush jungle, picture-perfect beaches and craggy headlands, this tiny park (1680 acres/680 hectares) absolutely brims with wildlife (and often…

7. Playa Espadilla


This wide stretch of white sand is found just outside the park entrance, in front of Manuel Antonio village. It's a popular place for families and beach…

8. Greentique Wildlife Refuge

1.71 MILES

Biologist Jimmy Mata leads magical one- and two-hour sojourns through the Butterfly Atrium, Reptile & Amphibian Water Gardens and Crocodile Lagoon, as…