• Quepos
  • Manuel Antonio

Inside Scoop

Quepos is a busy town and the water can be very polluted around high tide after a heavy rainfall. There has also been an extension of the marina's jetty which was thought to affect the break, but on big swells it still works.The beaches to the north are empty for miles, fronted by jungle and palm oil plantations. The town is a busy port for fishing and has a great night scene, a small casino inside the Best Western, and about 20 sportsfishing operations.  Quepos has a lot of restaurant options, my favorite is Restaurant El Garden, on the opposite corner from the Banco Nacional. Late at night it can seem a little sketchy so be careful.

Manuel Antonio is just over the hill from Quepos, but the scene is quite the opposite. This two kilometer stretch of beach has a lot more international tourists and is inviting to walk along. Islands offshore frame the calmer waters and the National Park at the south end has monkeys and plenty of other wildlife waiting to be discovered. The prices are also twice as high for restaurants and tours, but worth it for the quality.

Location & Directions

Quepos is fishing port that has grown into a large town with all the amenities. It takes about 2.5 hours to drive there from the San Jose airport. When you drive into town, you can see the waves breaking into the rivermouth on your right. If you stay straight you will reach the port. Make your last left into town and follow it for about seven blocks. You will see the sign for the road to Manuel Antonio. This steep paved road winds for about 6 kilometers until you reach the National Park at the bottom of the hill. Hotels, surf shops, spanish schools, and restaurants are all found along this main road.


Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1999 and dedicated to the preservation of local rainforests and their inhabitants, is pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with the Blue Banyan Inn. Located minutes from Manuel Antonio, the Blue Banyan Inn is an environmentally friendly bed and breakfast offering visitors a truly unique vacation experience. In addition to their three luxury cottages, landscaped pool and waterfall, and open-air restaurant on the grounds, Blue Banyan has its own animal sanctuary, managed by KSTR. The sanctuary, which houses animals including endangered tamarins, marmosets, and raccoons, is a part of KTSR’s ongoing efforts to study and repopulate species, while at the same time educating people about environmental preservation.

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Surf Spots

Isla Damas

Isla Damas, or Island of Women, does not have any women on it, but offshore has a long right that breaks across the Damas rivermouth. The wave is only accessible by boat, and can break for over 300 meters when the swell is overhead. However, the rip pulling you out to sea is very strong, and the chance of seeing a shark is high.

Quepos Rivermouth

You see the wave driving in from the north to Quepos. It breaks along the jetty and then into the rivermouth, which is very polluted. The left breaks very fast and rides can be 100-200 meters long. It is better at lower tides and it needs a huge swell to work. Best size is chest to head high, but it can hold double overhead surf.

Manuel Antonio - Playitas

Playitas, or Little Beach, is located about a 1 km. walk north from the National Park, just past a 50 foot rock formation offshore. Watch out for rocks sticking out at lower tide. Best time to surf it is around high tide. Best size is chest high to one foot overhead. The biggest sets tend to close out, and are overrun with bodyboarders and local surf aficionados.

Manuel Antonio Park

The beach just to the north of Manuel Antonio Park entrance is a great spot for beginners. An offshore island blocks most of the swell, and it is usually waist high or smaller. The best tide to surf it is around high tide. You'll see lots of surf lessons being given on this stretch of beach, so watch out flying NSPs and softtops.

Playa El Rey

Playa El Rey is just to the south of Manuel Antonio, but you have to drive all the way around Quepos and then south about 5 kilometers to get there (taking the route to Dominical). It is almost always empty, and has very clean surf. As a beachbreak, when it's too big it will close out, the best size being chest to 1 foot overhead, better around high tide. It is a favorite for longboarders who want to get away from the crowds.

Surf Camps

Visit our Costa Rica Surf Camp Directory for more options in the area

Manuel Antonio Surf School

Certification: First Aid, ISA Certified
Manuel Antonio 2777-4842

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Surf Shops


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Recommended Tours

Hike the Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos