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Fast Facts

Home > Adventures > Surfing > Special Places > Playa Matapalo

Along the sparsely populated middle Pacific coast region of Costa Rica, twenty miles south of Manuel Antonio, lies the unique little beach community of Playa Matapalo. Unlike its more popular neighbors, Dominical and Quepos/Manuel Antonio, it doesn't have world-class surf or a famous park to draw international tourists. Instead, it has a slow stroll-about peace and a beautiful, long sandy beach, perfect for swimming and watching sunsets.

Because the beach community is not directly on the main Pacific Coast road and is over a miles away from the town of the same name, Matapalo is usually bypassed in favor of more established destinations. This has caused the people of the town to remain more tranquil and the area to retain a more natural charm. Many of the residents don't want to be 'found' by the outside world; they like the place just the way it is: peaceful and relaxing.

Walking through town along the beach road, which dead ends at the Río Portalón, one sees a number of small houses, a few cabinas, a couple of bar/restaurants and a lot of open space. Because of the small size of the human population, there are many types of wildlife right in the middle of town. Sloths, iguanas, monkeys and toucans abound with even an occasional sighting of some of the regions small, wild cats.

For those wishing to sojourn into the surrounding country side or take part in some of the different activities in the area, a number of different options are available. Fisherman interested in trying a different kind of Costa Rican fishing experience may want to try their luck on the beach or at the nearby Portalón river mouth. Snook and red and black snapper are plentiful, with catches by locals weighing as much as 30 lb. Horseback tours are available along the beach or into the surrounding, forest covered hillsides. Lots of wildlife, beatiful views and refreshing waterfalls make these trips well worth the price of admission. In a country where 'Pura Vida' is the way of life and 'mañana' doesn't mean tomorrow, Playa Matapalo is a place where a person can truly get away from it all and still have a great burger.

How to get there?

Playa Matapalo is situated halfway between Manuel Antonio/Quepos and Dominical. The dirt road connecting the two coastal communities contains numerous short, narrow bridges, all of which accommodate one-way traffic only. Depending on weather and road conditions, your trip south to Matapalo from the Manuel Antonio/Quepos, or north from Dominical, will require approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. From Manuel Antonio/Quepos, the road to Matapalo is a continuation of the same road that leads to the Quepos airport. From Dominical, head north on the coastal road, passing Hacienda Barú.


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