Last Updated: Nov 14, 2011
Summary: Quiet beaches and laid-back atmosphere; situated within the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge.
Landscape: Beaches, Rainforest
Attractions: Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, Nesting Sea Turtles, Wildlife
Activities: Kayaking, Snorkeling, Swimming
Caters to: Budget Travelers, Couples/Honeymooners, Nature Lovers
The tranquil town of Manzanillo is the southernmost stop on the scenic, coastal road from Puerto Viejo. Here, the pavement ends, blending into unspoiled beaches, turquoise waters and sandy footpaths. The Panamanian border lies only a few miles south, though travelers must go to nearby Sixaola for the official border crossing.
Location: 138 miles from San Jose; 8 miles south of Puerto Viejo
Average Temperature: 72-95°F
Altitude: Sea level
Manzanillo is a traditional Caribbean town: stilt homes are painted in bright colors, lunch simmers in coconut milk over a hot stove, and roads carry names such as “Mista Cracker Jack Street.” The town’s friendly residents speak both Spanish and Patois English.
The entire village is located within the Gandoca - Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge and is surrounded by tropical humid forest. Thanks to involved locals and national laws, the wildlife refuge protects the area’s white-sand beaches, coral reefs, nesting leatherback turtles and twisting canals. When visiting Manzanillo, visitors can choose from activities that include snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, swimming, and guided turtle tours within the refuge.
It is important to note that wildlife, not nightlife, is Manzanillo’s claim to fame, and visitors generally rise early to observe waking seabirds, sleepy monkeys and the gentle dawn. Those in search of nightlife should stick to the late-night discos of nearby Puerto Viejo. Manzanillo is a place to relax and enjoy the laid-back Caribbean atmosphere. On Saturday nights, Maxi's Bar and Restaurant is the local hot spot.
Manzanillo is a 250-year-old fishing village, originally settled by fishermen searching for the hawksbill sea turtle. They first settled at Monkey Point (Punta Mona), later traveling a few miles north to settle in what is today known as Manzanillo. The village has developed slowly, mainly due to limited infrastructure – electricity arrived to the area in the 1980s, and telephone service first became available in 2000.
In 1985, the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge was established, helping to protect the idyllic town and its natural treasures. Together with ecologically-minded locals, the refuge, which surrounds the town of Manzanillo, has imposed strict regulations and helped slow land development in the area.
Walking and bicycling are the easiest and most popular ways to get around Manzanillo – local shops rent bikes for about $5 a day. For motored transportation, consider renting a scooter or 4WD vehicle. In addition, there are public buses that run the roundtrip Limon-Cahuita-Puerto Viejo-Manzanillo route four times daily.
Services & Facilities:
There are no ATMs, banks, gas stations or pharmacies in Manzanillo. The closest medical facility is the Hone Creek clinic. For all banking and most other needs, Puerto Viejo should suffice.
Manzanillo Travel Guide
Manzanillo Travel Guide
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