Manuel Antonio is both the name of a town on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica as well as a nearby national park. There are many beaches in and around this area that are collectively known as Manuel Antonio, and these are some of the most popular surfing areas in the country.
Manuel Antonio is located approximately five miles (7km) from the town of Quepos in Puntarenas Province about halfway along the country’s Pacific Coast. Beyond the surfing, other popular activities in the area include sportfishing, hiking, snorkeling, horseback riding, stand-up paddling, whitewater rafting, and exploring local waterfalls.
However, if you’re interested in surfing in and around Manuel Antonio, here’s what you need to know:
Playa El Rey
Spanish for “The King’s Beach,” this surf break is located just south of the town of Manuel Antonio. For surfers, the waves break both left and right. Big swells make this a better choice for experienced surfers. Due to the relative inaccessibility of this beach, it is completely secluded from other surfers.
Playa Manuel Antonio
The official Manuel Antonio beach is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica. The waves are large but gentle, making them ideal for first-time surfers and surfers with only a little experience. The break is not always consistent but swells come in frequently to provide decent waves. Be aware, however, that sometimes swells get much larger and the waves can break close to the shore making the surfing more difficult.
Spanish for “little beaches,” this section of Manuel Antonio is located at the very northern tip of the surfing area. This is the go-to spot on Manuel Antonio beach for surfers with some experience. Similar to Manuel Antonio main beach, the break is not always consistent, but large swells can occasionally be found here and when they do the waves will be larger and of a better shape than the main beach. Waves break both left and right over a rocky bottom, so surfers need to be alert when surfing this location.
Spanish for the river mouth of the Quepos River, the place where the outgoing rive meets the Pacific Ocean is one of the most popular places to surf in the area. A swell is needed for this to break but when it does it’s a perfect left wave. Breaks present fast with hollow waves that can easily be ridden for 100 meters or more. Ideal surfing conditions are when the waves are incoming from the west or northwest. When the tide shifts to other directions, the smaller swells are perfect for first-time surfers.
Spanish for the outlet around the Island of Women (Isla Damas), this four-mile (6km) stretch of island beach offers truly superior surfing opportunities. Accessible only by boat, the area around the island has a beach break that consistently peels both left and right. Waves are very large and powerful, making this site off-limits to inexperienced surfers without an experienced guide. Be aware that there are strong rip tides and currents in this area.