Spectacular Secret Beaches to Check Out in the Manuel Antonio area and Central Pacific of Costa Rica

Secret Beaches in Costa Rica

Updated July 24th, 2021

Why do you visit a tropical country? Each year, millions of people flock to Costa Rica and other tropical locations around the world to enjoy the beaches.

Seriously, who doesn’t love the idea of kicking back and relaxing with a nice cold drink in hand?  You can immerse yourself in the soothing sounds of the ocean waves and let your cares drift away on a gentle tropical breeze.

The main beaches in Manuel Antonio are perfect for hosting your special day. But at some point during your stay, you might want to get away from the crowds and see some hidden gems that only the locals know about.

Costa Rica is full of spectacular beaches that take a bit of effort to get to. Riding a 4×4 or hiking may be required but once you get there, it will all be worth it.

To get inspired, let’s take a tour of just 7of the most spectacular secret beaches to check out in the Manuel Antonio area.

Playa Dominicalito

People flock to the shores of Dominical, a sleepy surf town about 35 minutes south of Quepos. The beach there is rocky and the riptide can be strong, but surfers love the extremely consistent waves. 

What about swimmers and beginning surfers who don’t want to take a chance with the strong riptide? Dominical’s lesser-known little brother, Dominicalito is perfect as a safe place to spend a day at the beach.

Dominicalito is also an amazing place for family portraits as you can see in my post: Best Beaches for  Family Portraits.

Playa Escondida

No trip to Manuel Antonio National Park would be complete without a stop at Playa Escondida. The name implies that it would be hard to find (literally Hidden Beach in English), but it isn’t that hidden at all. 

Hire a guide to take you there inside the park or simply follow the Puerto Escondido trail until you happen upon this gorgeous spot. It can be dangerous to swim on this beach so always ask officials about the conditions before taking a dip. 

However, it is always an amazing spot for photos and enjoying nature.

Here is a wedding I photographed there: Wedding in Manuel Antonio National Park.

Playa La Macha

If you want a truly secluded getaway, Playa La Macha is the place for you. Be prepared for a hike because the shortest route to get there is about 40 minutes walking. 

It used to be you had to know a local to even find the beach, but now there are signs that point the way. There’s a little parking lot at the trailhead where you can leave your car. You can even find the trailhead on Google Maps!

The beach is pretty remote and it’s likely that you’ll be the only ones there. It’s also not uncommon to see people soaking up sunshine the way you would in private, so be aware if you want to take kids along. 

The beach can also be accessed from the route for the Reto Mae, a yearly hiking challenge whose route follows the coast. It begins at the world-class Pez Vela Marina in Quepos and ends at the main beach just outside Manuel Antonio National Park. 

Playa La Macha is just one of the many gorgeous sights you’ll see if you decide to tackle this challenging hiking trail. Visitors who follow this trek will see spectacular sights that the average visitor to Manuel Antonio never gets a chance to see.

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

Playa Hermosa is about an hour from Quepos by car. In Spanish, Playa Hermosa literally means “Beautiful Beach” and this beach could not be more aptly named. Clean white sand stretches off into the distance with few rocks and lots of large spreading shade trees along the treeline. 

It’s a great place for a lazy afternoon, playing in the surf, working on your suntan, or taking a nap in the shade.

Because you need a car to access it, you won’t find as many tourists on this beach. However, it has become a more popular spot in recent years as people are discovering its hidden beauty. The great thing is that it’s a big beach so there is plenty of space for people to spread out.

Playa Esterillos (Este, Centro, Oeste)

Esterillos Beach Costa Rica

Have you ever visited a brown sand beach? White, black, and even pink beaches get a lot of attention, but don’t underestimate the peaceful beauty of empty chocolate-colored sand stretching out before you. 

Playa Esterillos, located about 40 minutes north of Quepos by car is a giant beach, largely untouched by tourists. It is actually made up of three beaches aptly-named East, Center, and West Esterillos (Este, Centro, Oeste). 

A beach road runs along the coast, making it easy to find a secluded spot and drive right up to it. There can be big waves and riptides, so swimming may not be a great idea, but there’s plenty of space to go for a walk and play in the waves. 

There are tide pools at one end of the beach that are interesting to explore at low tide. Kids, especially, will love to see the little crabs and fish. There is also a sculpture of a mermaid and a harder-to-find sculpture of a pair of lovers “Los Amantes” near the tide pools.

Playa Bejuco

Playa Bejuco, Costa Rica

Playa Bejuco is close to Playa Esterillos, it’s the next beach to the south. Again, there are very few tourists here but you will see local Ticos enjoying some time on the beach. 

Playa Bejuco is about 9 kilometers long and offers ample opportunity to surf, fish, and go for a swim. If you want to stick around and enjoy the sunset, make sure you start heading out before it gets too dark.

Here is a recent couple portrait session at Playa Bejuco: Photos at Playa Bejuco.

Playa Linda

Kids at Playa Linda, Costa Rica
Horses on Kids at Playa Linda, Costa Rica

I’ve saved my favorite beach for last. It’s a bit hard to find which makes it very low-key.  In the off-season, you can have the whole beach to yourself. The only folks you’re likely to see are a few kids with machetes walking around cutting down coconuts.

Playa Linda is a very long beach, which is great for walking and finding seashells.  I like to go and spend the whole day, from cooking Pinto in the morning for breakfast, through tortillas and fish for lunch, and the coffee in the afternoon.

Throughout the rest of the day, I am either surfing or sleeping in the hammock.  For me, it’s the perfect way to unwind.

Enjoying the Secret Beaches of Costa Rica

Finding secret beaches is a fun adventure to go on with your beloved or friends and family. This is just a taste of what you can find as Costa Rica does not disappoint with its array of options — it’s just a matter of being adventurous enough to get off the beaten path and explore what this gorgeous country has to offer!

Want to know the best beaches to have your family portraits? Click the link below:

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