Introduction – Surfing in Manuel Antonio
Best Time: May ~ November
Manuel Antonio is a beautiful town located about 45 minutes south of Hermosa offering beginner surfers, or, surfers traveling with non-surfing partners, an excellent destination.
Manuel Antonio is one of Costa Rica’s most visited destinations, with one of the most popular national parks in Costa Rica. It has it all – from the small town life offered in Quepos to the beautiful beaches of Manuel Antonio.
Manuel Antonio combines breathtaking jungle and ocean views, exotic beaches, unique wildlife, a wide variety of adventure activities, friendly local & tourist community and plenty of restaurants and bars creating an unforgettable experience for travelers of all walks of life. Although this area is not known as a prime surfer destination (like Jaco, for instance), there are some fun beach breaks at the local beaches and some excellent uncrowded breaks within a short drive.
Manuel Antonio is accessed by a paved road (almost completely) from San José (3 hours) or by a shuttle flight into the local airport in Quepos (no boards over 7 feet).
Manuel Antonio caters more to the beginner and moderate surfer, however with a nice swell these local break can be fun for all surfers. Just outside of Manuel Antonio and Quepos you can find some of the nicest and most remote waves in all of Costa Rica.
Damas Rivermouth – Boca Damas
Access by Boat Only
A very strong, and hollow right. This wave is best at low tide filling in with a mid size to large swell from the northwest or west.
Quepos Rivermouth – Boca Quepos
A long, perfect left coming off the pier. At low tide, you can catch hollow, strong waves. Needs a large swell to break. Best conditions with a west/northwest swell at low tide. Turd alert: water can be dirty.
A short beach break located at the northern most end of the beach in Manuel Antonio. Best conditions with a medium to large swell from the south/southwest at mid to high tide. With a big swell, you can also surf the outer reef with offers long, open rights, ideal for longboarding by paddling across the river… beware of crocodiles!
Mar Y Sombra
With the presence of a LARGE swell, this beach break offers a strong & often tubular left and right. Best conditions at mid to high tide and a large swell from the south/southwest.
A strong, yet short left & right point located just south of Playitas. Best conditions with a small – medium swell from the south/southwest at mid – high tide.
A reef break offering a long, perfect right running up to 200 meters. A very natural wave only surfable at low tide with a big swell from the S or SSW. (L & S).
Playa El Rey
Very similar to Playa Hermosa; this isolated beach break offers lefts and rights that close out with the presence of a big swell. Always bigger than nearby breaks so if you are in Manuel Antonio with non-surfers and are looking for relief, check this place out. No crowds with several peaks and is only accessible via a palm plantation about 15 minutes south of Quepos. Best conditions at mid – high tide incoming.
Things to Do
- Local activities including: sunset sails, jet ski tours, mangrove tours, kayaking, snorkeling, canopy tours, horseback riding, waterfalls, surfing, sportfishing and lots more.
- Then there is the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park, a great escape for a morning hike. Experience the sounds of one of the country’s most popular parks. White sand beaches, calm waters, several species of monkeys, sloths, birds and plenty of flora.
- Playa Biesanz is a calm water bay located past the Hotel Makanda, great for snorkeling.
- For those interested in some nightlife, the Mar y Sombra turns on at night in the summer months, and is a great disco and hang out (generally a younger crowd). Same thing for the Arco Iris, located just outside Quepos.
- Jungle Canopy Tour - The trip begins with an amazing drive trough the tropical rainforest where you will have the opportunity to spot toucans, Tití monkeys, poison dart frogs and more tropical plant life than you could ever imagine.
- Rainmaker Canopy and River Walk - The Rainmaker Canopy Walk consists of a suspension bridge system, built to U.S. engineering standards. The six sections total 250 meters, spanning from platforms attached to massive hardwood trees to create the most impressive Canopy Walk in Costa Rica.
- Kayak Coastal Paddle - Enjoy a paddling tour of the Manuel Antonio coastline. Start at the pier in the port of Quepos and begin paddling south towards Playa Espadilla, Manuel Antonio. From a vantage point only possible in kayaks, experience Manuel Antonio’s breathtaking cliffs and beautiful rock formations along the coastline.
- Kayak Mangrove Estuary Tour - Paddle through the smooth inland waterways of the Damas Island Estuary, one of the most unusual types of vegetation on the planet, and learn the importance of this delicate ecosystem.
- Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Tour - Have an experienced nature guide take you on an informative hike through the park. Our guides know where you are most likely to encounter sloths, and monkeys. They will also provide a great deal of information on the history, flora and fauna during this easy 2.5 hours walk.
- Nauyaca Waterfall Tour - Cascading 25 & 40 meters into a 8 meters deep pool for swimming. The horseback tour offers you more contact with nature and a better chance of seeing wild life.
- Dolphin Watch Tour - Marvel at the mysterious islands with their jagged rock formation, towering cliffs and nesting grounds with numerous species of marine birds and their young.
- Carara Biological Reserve - This tour is a must for anyone with a serious interest in nature. A premontane moist forest, Carara National Park is “an excellent reserve that has wildlife of both the Guanacaste tropical dry forest and tropical wet forests of southern Pacific Lowlands” (Carrol L. Henderson, Wildlife of Costa Rica).
Things to Avoid
Be careful driving on the curvy road from Quepos to Manuel Antonio in the evening as this can be dangerous.