Karahe Hotel on the Manuel Antonio Beach in Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio beachfront

Costa Rica has some fairly good beaches, but most of them are hidden away in some little cove or in a spot that’s a protected reserve with no hotels. So a lot of travelers end up at the one near Manuel Antonio National Park, just down the road from Quepos. The only full-service hotel actually on the beach there though is family owned Karahe.

No, that’s not some exotic indigenous word: it’s the first syllable of each name of the parents’ three children, who are also involved in the business. This is a hotel that grew organically, founder Cecilia starting it 35 years ago when there was little else around in this area. Her mother had rented out little cabins in another part of the country and that was the early model, with simple studio casitas on a hillside. Phase two was a group of buildings made from stones delivered to their door from the river going by the property. Since their property title ran to the ocean, eventually they got a concession from the government to build all the way down to the water. They put in a restaurant and pool near the beach, as well as what was now the third phase on the beach side of the road, with secure parking.

Karahe hotel pool

Now Karahe has a very wide rate range since it goes from fan-cooled budget rooms that require climbing 70+ steps in the tropical heat to renovated air-conditioned rooms with a fridge and TV that are less than a minute’s walk to the surf. This makes the mix of guests interesting though, as domestic tourists, budget travelers, and higher-spending beach lovers congregate together at the pool and restaurant.

The restaurant is no bargain, which you can say for most of Costa Rica unfortunately, so many guests end up heading to the strip near the national park or Quepos town for budget meals or a grocery store. What you do get by staying put is a tasty meal and cold beer with a view of the water at lunchtime, plus a vacation-ready atmosphere of a palapa roof and palm trees.

Quepos monkey

The swimming pool is a round one in the gardens, sinewy vines and exotic plants surrounding the deck. There’s plenty of wildlife in this area—they don’t tend to pay much attention to park boundaries—so it’s not unusual to look up and see scampering white-faced monkeys or even a sloth. If you walk down the beach a bit you’ll see a “Beware of Crocodiles” sign in one marshy section.

Karahe superior beachfrontCheck out the accommodations section on the Karahe website for a description before picking a room here. The lowest-priced Villas ones don’t have A/C and are a hike. (“Because of the location these villas are not recommended for small children or older people.”) The next level ones face the road and are closer to the water, plus they have A/C, as do the ones closest to the beach. The “Beach Front” ones are on the first two floors, the “Superior Beach Front” ones on the revamped third floor. The photo here is from the top class, which has the most amenities and newest furnishings.

Wi-Fi is included and transmission stations throughout the property ensure a decent signal from most spots. Rates at Karahe Hotel range from $90 to $226 with taxes and breakfast depending on season and room class. Book direct with the hotel or through booking services Travelocity or Priceline.

Review and photos by Tim S. Leffel, who was a guest of the hotel while researching a Costa Rica feature story for another publication.

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