If you’re looking for a quiet family-friendly beach that’s only an hour away from San Jose, Cost Rica, you will love Playa Mantas. Nestled inside an inlet with calm waters, this beach backs up to beautiful mature jungle trees. It’s the perfect setting for a great day on the beach.
This beach was actually the first beach we visited while on our two-month vacation in Costa Rica. With five kids, we wanted something that was safe and close to San Jose. That’s why we loved this beach. It’s also a favorite with the locals as well. So here’s everything you need to know about this beautiful beach.
Directions to Playa Mantas
It’s really easy to get there. Take Highway 34 heading towards Jaco. You will cross the popular Crocodile Bridge that crosses the Tarcoles River. About 20 minutes later, you turn off the highway onto a dirt road. Follow the road to the parking lot of the beach. Keep an eye out for iguanas running across the road. You’ll see signs pointing the way. If you go too far on the road, not to worry. The road ends with a guarded gate that won’t allow you to go any further.
We visited Playa Mantas on a Monday in May during the rainy season so there were plenty of parking spaces available. However, if you visit on the weekend, you may want to arrive early in the morning since this beach is a popular location among locals and tourists. We took a ticket as we entered the parking lot. There is a QR code on the ticket that you can scan just in case you lose your ticket. We stayed for about three hours and it only cost us about 3,000 colones.
Right next to the parking lot, there are eight showers to wash yourself off after a long day at the beach. There’s also a portable bathroom and garbage cans to throw away your trash before you leave. The showers were really nice to wash off since we have about an hour drive back to Santa Ana afterwards.
About the beach
You can take two different trails to access the beach. Both will take you to the main areas of the beach. At low tide, there are spots on the beach that have more rocks and sea corral on them. You may want to wear some water shoes. You can walk the entire length of the beach in 10-15 minutes. There are lots of spots to set up a chair or a hammock and relax under the trees.
My kids loved playing in the water and in the sand. We ended up staying for several hours because everyone was having so much fun. I had heard that there are monkeys at this beach but we didn’t see any. However, we did see a pair of scarlet macaws and what we thought might have been a sloth in the tree.
Access to Playa Blanca
Playa Mantas also provides the only public access to another quiet and beautiful beach called Playa Blanca. On the opposite of the southern most point of the beach, you can walk to Playa Blanca. It has fluffy white sand, calm waters and awesome snorkeling. Even at high tide, we still saw people traversing the rocks and crossing over into the other beach. That’s another reason why water shoes would be helpful. However, we opted to come back another day at low tide because it was just a little bit too treacherous for our family of seven (with a baby).
This is definite a favorite for all of us and can’t wait to go back. I hope this blog post was helpful for you as you venture out in beautiful Costa Rica. Let me know how it went in the comments below.