Costa Rica Nicoya Peninsula

The Travel Guide to the Peninsula de Nicoya, Costa Rica, with detailed Maps, Hotels and Tourist Information


Manzanillo, Santa Teresa

The beach of Manzanillo is shaded by stocky palm trees and old almendros leaning far out over the sand. Bathing is possible at mid to hight tide. During low tide be careful of underwater rocks.

Manzanillo Costa Rica
Manzanillo, Pacific coast of Costa Rica

At low tide you can walk over the rocks to a shallow lagoon which is protected by a reef. It's a good place for snorkeling and has the best light in the morning hours.

The best place for swimming is on Playa Ario, a 10-min hike north, across from the Rio Manzanillo. The coastal strip from here until the estuary of the Rio Bongo belongs to the newly created Wildlife Reserve Caletas Ario which protects sea turtles who come to these lonesome beaches to lay their eggs.
It should go without saying that you should not drive along these beaches - not with a quad nor with a car or motorcycle.

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The coastal road from Mal Pais and Santa Teresa ends in Manzanillo. To continue north, turn inland: » Road Map from Manzanillo to Playa Coyote

Manzanillo Beach
Fisher boats on the beach

Although Manzanillo is only a 20 min drive away from the bustling surf town of Santa Teresa the tranquil beach village has so far escaped touristic development. There are however some simple cabinas for rent, along with vacation rentals and a small nature lodge. A beachside restaurant in Manzanillo serves typical Costa Rican dishes with a focus on fresh-from-the ocean seafood.

The Sandcastle Beach Party in Manzanillo

Manzanillo Sand Castle Contest
The sandcastle contest in Manzanillo

In Manzanillo, the most important party of the year comes in March with the annual sandcastle contest. People stake their claims in the early morning and spend the entire day building works of sand art.
Food stalls serve local dishes and beers and people from all neighboring communities come with their families and friends to party on the beach. Late in the day, when the tide comes up the sea will take most of the creations away to the ocean. The party however continues with live music and dancing until late into the evening.
Unfortunately, each year there are less people building sand castles. The majority of visitors only comes to watch and enjoy the beach party.