Playa Las Manchas – Costa Rica’s Cutest Beach

Playa las Manchas is named for the huge schools of fish that are found out in front of this picture-perfect beach. On a clear day you can find thirty or more species of fish, and often several dense and beautiful groups of silvery fish that you can swim with when you’re snorkeling.

This is one of the prettiest beaches in the entire southern Nicoya peninsula, and is very popular with the ex-pats that live in Montezuma, especially the Italians. The water is very clean here, and the sand is among the whitest in the area, giving the water a turquoise glow. There are many coconut trees and if you hunt around you can sometimes find coconuts that have fallen and haven’t been opened.

This is a great beach for a picnic… buy some food in Montezuma and walk here to spend the day in the shade under one of the coconut palms.

Snorkeling
Costa Ricans enjoying Montezuma's "Las Manchas" beach
As for the snorkeling, it’s probably the most popular spot in Montezuma, and one of the best in the peninsula, along with Cabuya Island and Playa Los Suecos in Malpais. You can sometimes also see an octopus, eel, or a sea turtle. Thanks to efforts in the past few years by sea turtle conservation groups, we should be seeing more turtles in the coming years.

The best area to see the fish is to head out and to the right (the south) where you’ll find a large rock, and a zillion fish hiding behind it in a pool. Farther to the south is a big sandy area where you can sometimes see stingrays.

Warning!

At high tide, Playa las Manchas can have a short but powerful rip current. You’ll notice that there are two beaches. A larger one on the left and a smaller one on the right. Water pours over from the right side, and across the rocks, and then can create a rip current that sucks you out. People have drowned right there, 20 feet from shore, because they panic and don’t just swim sideways (to their right) to get out of it. This rip current is narrow and you can swim out of it in 10 second by swimming to your right, but people don’t know that and several of drowned, and many have had to be rescued by others. When the waves are large, they crash heavily on this steep beach, which can also be dangerous for kids or people who are unfamiliar with the ocean. But, when the waves are normal, this place is a real paradise.

How to Find Playa Las Manchas

Most of tourists in Montezuma just go to Playa Montezuma, to the north of town, but Las Manchas is better. It’s a 15 minute walk to the south, along the main beach road. There’s an abandoned hotel for sale on the other side of the street. The rocks in the photos below are on that property.

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