Just a short 1.5 hour drive from San José on the shores of the Central Pacific coast are the stunning, light sand beaches of Playa Mantas and Playa Blanca at Punta Leona, rivaling the best in the country.
These secluded beaches are not well known amongst tourists and are primarily frequented by locals. They can be busy on the weekends and holidays when people flock to the sandy beaches for some family fun in the sun, so it’s good to get there early for parking and a good spot on the beach. The water is sheltered and relatively calm for swimming and there is a lot of shrubbery along the beach that provides plenty of shade.
The parking lot lies 5km off the Costanera Sur highway that heads south toward Jacó, so you will want to have a rental car to visit. From the highway it’s a rugged dirt road that eventually becomes paved as it passes by Hotel Arenas en Punta Leona, but you don’t need a 4×4 as long as you travel slowly. You can find it easily by entering “Parqueo Playa Mantas” into the Waze navigation app.
There is a restroom at the parking lot so be sure to use it there, since there is nothing available at Playa Blanca. A short walk from the parking lot will take you to Playa Mantas, where you need to walk south toward the rocky point where you can cross over to Playa Blanca.
Public access to Playa Blanca is only possible by crossing the point from Playa Mantas during low tide, so it’s important to check the tide schedule for Jacó so you’ll know when you can cross and when you need to head back. The closest shortcut involves a small climb over a rugged path, but a little further down there is a flat path across some stones for easier access.
Playa Blanca is one of few in the country with a lifeguard but there are no other amenities so it’s best to pack snacks and beverages if you’re planning to spend some time there. If you want to grab a bite to eat or stop for drinks after soaking up the sun, it’s a short 15 km drive south to Playa Herradura or a couple kilometers further to Jacó where there are plenty of dining options.
Enjoy your visit to this hidden bit of paradise!