Elegant suites are found behind tall columns and curving stairways, lights glowing mysteriously through glass bricks; many of the rooms have ocean views from the beds or balcony hot tubs. The food is superb in both restaurants; a spa offers massages and organic treatments. And yet it’s all rigorously sustainable. Wondrous.
- Fabulous setting: nowhere in Manuel Antonio has views and a beach like this
- Gorgeous airy design: the suites exude a natural, simple elegance, as does the fine dining restaurant
- Excellent for families with a daily menu of activities, a choice of swimming pools, and a kids menu
- Local staff soon know your name and greet you like friends, embodying the 'pura vida' spirit
- A great example of Costa Rican sustainability and a hotel with minimal environmental impact
- No twin beds, though friends or children can use the sofabed in the living room of the suites
- A stiff uphill walk from the beach, but an electric cart can be summoned at a moment’s notice
- No lift, though 3 rooms on the ground floor are adapted for disabled guests, and you can be whisked around in the golf trolley
- All this lotus-eating doesn't come cheap (although note the mini-bars are complimentary)
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- 38 rooms
- Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car not necessary
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Surfboards and SUP boards
The 7 blocks of suites are spread out along a winding path which descends from the reception area down to the beach; blocks 1-3 are near the beach and 4-7 are at the top with the best views. The exterior architecture aims to fit organically with the rainforest all around . Inside, the design is carefully considered across all 38 elegant rooms and suites: white walls and tiled floors; handsome wooden doors and Egyptian cotton sheets.
Ocean Breeze Suites have a bedroom with a glass-fronted balcony for sea glimpses through the trees, and a pretty tiled Jacuzzi, plus a sitting room with a sofabed. Ocean View Premium Suites are similar, but they have an extra bathroom and (as the name suggests) stunning long views. The Playitas Suite down by the beach is the largest, and has three double beds, three bathrooms and a living room plus a hot tub on its covered balcony, making it ideal for families.
Superior Rooms are also divided into ocean breeze or ocean view categories. Though without a sitting room or Jacuzzi, they're still quite spacious. Garden Rooms similar, but are set furthest away from the ocean.
Bathrooms are sumptuous with circular walk-in showers, slate tiles, and glass bricks. Excellent quality biodegradable and organic toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion) are provided in big bottles. There are bathrobes too, and a hairdryer; you also get a safe, a well-stocked complimentary minibar, air-conditioning above your bed and living rooms have a fan.
- Safe box
The El Mirador Oceanview Restaurant is a chic space with polished stone floors and subtly-lit open-sided rooms perfect for wildlife viewing (including cute geckos), with the forest, ocean and bay below seen through cinemascope windows.
The dinner menu remains faithful to native organic ingredients and flavours; look out for the Dock to Dish symbol. Appetisers might include fried cauliflower, yucca croquettes or beetroot pave. We loved our delicious tamarind seared tuna and roasted octopus with smoked chayote for mains. Desserts could be pineapple with rum and ginger or hibiscus flower sorbet. Veggie options are plentiful too - we were tempted by the chickpea and nuts cake with pita bread, pickled onions, cucumber and tomatoes. The wine list is excellent and well-chosen, with some superb Argentine and Chilean bottles.
Light and delicious lunches are served in Playitas bar and restaurant by the beach and the lower pool. Think tropical and tasty salads, tortillas, ceviches, burgers, wraps and sandwiches, brownies and coconut flan. There are great cocktails too. We really enjoyed the atmospheric themed evenings – such as beach BBQ or seafood – where you get a set menu of several beautifully presented courses.
Breakfast is a treat taken in El Mirador, starting with a plate of tropical fruits, fresh juice, tea (in pots!) and excellent organic shade-grown coffee. Follow this with a hot dish, perhaps omelettes cooked to order, avocado on toast, pancakes with mango confit, or Costa Rican favourites such as taco wraps or gallo pinto with eggs.
- Dinner by arrangement
- Kids' meals
- Lunch by arrangement
- Room service
- Vegetarian options
- The highlight is popular Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica’s smallest. Expect white-faced monkeys, iguanas, sloths, hummingbirds, toucans, bats and the famous red-eyed tree frog. And to plunge into the sea afterwards from Manuel Antonio Beach
- Arenas del Mar has its own 5-acre nature reserve planted with native species to reproduce the forest that was originally here, and give a habitat to indigenous animals
- Go on the early morning bird-watching tour around the hotel for an astonishing array of tanagers, hummingbirds, flycatchers, woodpeckers, toucanets and hawks. Equally recommended is the night walk when you could see coatis, kinkajous, snakes, frogs and even tarantulas
- Learn to surf or SUP, right on the beach
- Kayak through mangrove swamps to see birds close up
- Take a hike to Villa Nueva waterfall – 2 beautiful falls that converge. You need to be in good shape but it's great for wildlife and birds
- Visit the local community: see schools and organic farms, have breakfast with the locals, go to the farmers market and milk a cow
- Thrill-seekers will want to try the canopy tour for a birds-eye view of the trees, or go mountain biking, coastering or paragliding in the bay
- Go white-water rafting for a day (you have a choice of rivers and grades)
- Horse-riding through the jungle to waterfalls can also be organised
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Horse riding
- Plantlife / flora
- Scuba diving
- Scuba diving courses
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
Families with kids of all ages will love it here with direct access to two beaches and a choice of swimming pools, wildlife galore at the hotel, plus a full menu of on-site activities and an impressive tour book. Children up to 11 years of age share their parents' room for free, including breakfast.
Family friendly accommodation:
Ocean View Premium Suite and Ocean Breeze Suite categories have pull out sofabeds/trundle beds that can accommodate two children. If you book a room near the beach you will be able to watch your children play in the beachside pool from your balcony. The Playitas Suite is the best for larger families or a couple of families travelling together as it sleeps up to 8. Suites and adjacent Superior rooms can connect for larger groups too.
Both restaurants are wonderfully accommodating if you have dietary requirements, and the kids menu includes favourites such as cheeseburgers, grilled fish or chicken, or mac and cheese.
Kids Activities on site:
- Two swimming pools: clifftop infinity and beachside
- Private beach; and access to Espadilla Beach
- Night safaris
- Tortilla making class
- The activities menu includes piñata parties, bracelet-making, bingo and seasonal events such as Easter egg hunts
- Movie nights
- Beach BBQs
Families Should Know:
The surf can be strong and watch out for occasional rip tides
- Airport: 3 hours
- Hospital: 15 minutes drive
- Shops: 15 minutes walk
Arenas Del Mar Manuel Antonio Hotel is on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, about 2km from the port of Quepos in Manuel Antonio, and 4 hours' drive from San José.
You'll fly into San José Juan Santamaria International (99km) or Liberia (260km). From San José you can take an internal flight to Quepos airstrip (2km), although most guests opt for a transfer. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.
From the Airport
Arenas del Mar can arrange a transfer from any airport - see Rates; from Quepos it may be a bit cheaper getting a taxi on arrival, but less reliable.
Consider carefully if you really want to drive in Costa Rica. The roads can be awful and the signage is hopeless. In Manuel Antonio you really won’t need a car, and you might prefer to arrange transfers if you’re travelling to a couple of destinations within Costa Rica. If you'd still rather travel under your own steam, see our car rental recommendations. Make sure you choose a 4-wheel drive for a more comfortable journey on the uneven roads.
By Public Transport:
If you're feeling adventurous, there's a public bus from San José to Quepos. Once in Quepos, take a taxi to the hotel.
Detailed directions will be provided when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Costa Rica and getting around
- Quepos 2.0 km XQP
- Quepos 99.0 km SJO
- Beach 0.2 km
- Shops 1.0 km
- Restaurant 0.5 km