Located in the southern region of Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio area is Arenas del Mar the only beachfront property. This 5-star hotel I would describe as simple luxury offering solo travelers, honeymooners, and families unparalleled customer service from the heart.
From the moments I arrived I could feel a genuine welcome from the staff. Many people seem to be attracted to the “Gold Coast of the northern region or perhaps heard it’s the place to go, but they are missing out on some unique experiences in the southern region.
We think if you’re looking for a different experience other than the all inclusive resorts in Central America you will love staying at Arenas del Mar. It’s super close to the smallest famous Manuel Antonio National Park and you can see wildlife without having to make long drives. Find out more about this property in our post.
The Best Family Resort In Manuel Antonio
Whether you drive a rental car or have shuttle service drop you off at the first point of contact you’ll find staff very friendly and welcoming at the reception area. I had a driver with a golf cart take me to the main building. A staff member brought a nice cold refreshing drink for me to quench my thirst. I believe it was called “Basil lemonade”. Quite tasty!
photo credit[Arenas del Mar]
The main lobby, bar, and pool area has recently been remodelled. The open-air with sea breezes blowing in felt inviting. The reception desk is available to help you with any questions you have, reservations to local restaurants or book tours for your family.
The main bar is ready to make one of your favorite drinks or try the local beer.
Off to the side is an air-conditioned gift shop filled with local crafts from artisans in the country.
With 38 rooms nestled in 7 buildings the 3 levels provide ample privacy on the property without feeling crowded. Two buildings are located by the beach.
I had the opportunity to view an Oceanview Premium Suite & Oceanview Superior suite however there are 5 categories with Ocean breeze suites, ocean breeze superior, and garden rooms being the less expensive.
Each room is laid out perfectly with colorful artwork hanging on the walls, crisp white linens on the beds. The furniture is crafted from wood here in the country. Floor to ceiling patio doors open to a balcony where you can sit and enjoy your evening cocktail watching the sun go down.
The average stay here at Arenas del Mar is between 4-5 days however if you choose to stay for more than 5 laundry services will be complimentary.
A coffee & tea bar area supplies those essentials for early morning risers. Mom’s will appreciate the mini frig complete with snacks for the kids. Should you require irons, ice buckets or cribs they are readily available just ask prior to your visit or at the reception desk when you arrive.
Las Brisas Wellness Center
Las Brisas is a welcome center with cozy, crisp white décor, touches of light woods, and views of the ocean from the windows.
Las Brisas Wellness Center is open daily from 12-8pm with different types of massages, wraps, and scrubs. Packages are also available for couples or families. You can call to book an appointment. Join in on the beachfront exercises or yoga at sunset complimentary in your stay. I think this adds a nice touch to a vacation.
The Mirador opens for breakfast serving an al carte menu included in your stay. Breakfast is served from 6:30am-10Am. Before dinner you can enjoy a fresh cocktail or try one of the craft beers at the bar in the lobby. The main menu serves up dishes infused with local ingredients. If you love ceviche it’s guaranteed to be fresh. Arenas del Mar is partnered with Dock to Dish Program meaning they use local fisherman so your seafood is always freshly caught that day. Dinner hours are from 6-10pm.
If you’re a vegetarian or have gluten allergies not to worry at Arenas del Mar they have you taken care of.
Down by the beach you’ll find another restaurant Playitas open for lunch from 11-5pm. It’s located adjacent to the lower pool. The beach area provides tables & chairs shaded to offer a little privacy. In this location you can ask to have a private dinner arranged. If you have children make sure to hit up the snow cone cart. It’s a real hit with the kids I’ve been told.
The infinity pool steals the show as you enter the lobby with its gorgeous views overlooking the ocean. You could just imagine sitting watching the sunsets from here. The pool was actually moved to be in this perfect spot. You will find comfortable lounge chairs with cushions and plenty of towels available for each pool.
The 2nd pool on the property is located by the beach. Here you can enjoy swimming in the ocean, lounging in the pool with the kids and having the convenience of a restaurant for lunch all in the same area.
Activities at the hotel
Families can enjoy long walks on the beach, playing in the waves or visiting the popular Manuel Antonio National Park which sits adjacent to the hotel.
If you happen to be lucky and arrive during turtle nesting season this would be a great opportunity for families to see. The turtles are protected as they come to the right side of the beach and the hotel has 24 hours security.
Surf lessons are $70 USD for a 2 hours private lesson and surf boards as well as paddleboards can be rented for $35 USD.
Mom’s will love not having to pack extra beach toys for the kids. These are supplied for you to use. Kid’s can also enjoy a movie night in the air-conditioned comfy room just in the main lobby.
Distance from the airport
The nearest airport to Arenas del Mar is Juan Santa Maria Airport located in Alajuela. The drive is approximately 3 hours which takes you on the Pan American highway to the Coastal Highway depending on the traffic. During busy times that traffic in San Jose area can get quite bogged down.
Distance to nearby towns
Quepos is your closest local town where you can do some shopping or have a bite to each at a local restaurant. The drive takes about 15 minutes. Cost for a taxi is approximately $8-11 USD.
What I liked about Arenas del Mar
What I loved about Arenas del Mar is the friendly staff and 11 acres of property feeling secluded without all the noise of those big resorts playing loud music and over crowded pools.
The hotel helps to preserve the wildlife who frequent the property by using underground system for the electricity instead of the typical overhead wires which have been so dangerous to the animals here in Costa Rica.
Many different types of animals visit the property from 3 species of monkeys (white-face, howler, squirrel), both 2 & 3 toed sloths, 3 species of toucans (keel-billed, Aracari, and chested mandible), anteaters, armadillos, ocelots, iguanas, lizards, and even boas. What I’ve never seen yet is a Kinkajou which is a rainforest animal related to the coatis or raccoons.
You can go for a nice walk on the beach in the mornings or evenings. It’s so close to Manuel Antonio National Park you can walk the beach and pay at the beach entrance to visit. The last time I was there 2017 the price for entrance was $16 USD per person.
In my opinion I think Arenas del Mar is one of the best family resorts in Costa Rica for vacations with lots of activities close by or you can sit back relaxing under the swaying palm trees while the kids have fun in the ocean.