About Manzanillo – Costa Rica
Manzanillo is a gorgeous stretch of coconut palm-lined beaches of the Caribbean Sea which meets the pristine jungles. The village is just a few miles from the border of Panama. It is a relatively quiet fishing village where you can catch your own fish to eat, or you could ask one of the local fishermen to catch your fish for you to cook on your own barbecue. The houses are all different and are in the typical Caribbean colours.
Manzanillo is named after an ancient tree which stood in the village in the 1940s. Nowadays, it is one of the latest coolest, hip places to be on the Caribbean side – perfect for a quiet getaway – and has a unique atmosphere. It is an up-coming village with many new sodas, restaurants, shops and other businesses appearing so fast, it would be impossible to list them. The reef is just 200 metres offshore and you can scuba dive and see most of Costa Rica’s sea life. There are approximately 500 hectares of coral reefs that are abound with brightly coloured fish, sea anemones, sea urchins, sponges, lobsters and other marine creatures.
The locals are extremely friendly and will quite happily sit, chat and have a beer with you. There is a variety of good accommodations to be found here for all budgets, including hostels, mid-class B&Bs, jungalows and most are eco-resorts. You can go dolphin watching nearby with one of the local fishermen and, if you are lucky, see the three species of dolphins that are often spotted in the area.
The weather is good all year around (22°-30°) but as this is a rainforest, you can expect rain at all times, especially at night when it can rain heavily. However, the sun does come out and when it does, it is just beautiful here – everything is green and the colours will blow your mind.
There is evidence that the region was inhabited by indigenous people in the past, more recently colonization began during the 19th century with the arrival of Afro-Caribbean’s arriving from the bordering Nicaraguan and Panamanian coast. These people developed agriculture and founded the majority of the local communities which are now known as Old Harbour, Cocles River, Little Bay, Grape Point, Manzanillo and Monkey Point (Punta Mona).
Refugio Gandoca Manzanillo
The Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge on the Caribbean coast is situated in one of the most stunningly beautiful regions of Costa Rica. It is the last stop on the Puerto Viejo road and you cannot go any further, unless you walk. However, it is highly inadvisable due to the dense jungle all the way to Panama, which is just a few kilometres north of the border in Talamanca County. This wildlife refuge protects some the region’s most endangered flora and fauna. Lying on the Caribbean coast of Limon province and bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the east, this refuge is classified as a humid tropical rainforest and also looks after the only natural mangrove oyster beds found along the reefs of the coast. There is a 400 hectare swamp, called Pantano Punta Mona, which is a haven for waterfowl. This area of Costa Rica is considered to be one of the most scenic spots in the country.
Costa Rica is just 1% of the land mass of the entire Earth and is thought to sustain 5% of the worlds’ biodiversity. The Talamanca mountains and rainforest boasts rivers, wetlands, mountains and beaches, where wild animals such as crocodiles, howler monkeys, sloths, jaguars and toucans live. The estuary is in the south eastern end of the Reserve, where you will find a lagoon with many mangroves, including the red mangrove. This is a breeding ground for lots of fish and manatees can often be found. This protected area is one of Costa Rica’s natural wonders!
The tropical forest of the Caribbean is far greener and extremely different from what you will see in other parts of the country. It is home to the Baird’s tapir, ocelots, sloths, crocodiles, monkeys, sloths, toucans, parrots, iguanas, anteaters and jaguar.
The coral reefs, which are just 200 meters into the sea, give way to gorgeous white sandy beaches and has a gentle surf with warm water. If you are lucky, you will see manatees and dolphins playing in the waves, especially around the Gandoca estuary.
The area is well known for its excellent scuba diving because of the coral reef that runs from Punta Uva all the way to Manzanillo. Other activities in this area include snorkelling, sea kayaking, hiking and if you are lucky, turtle watching. The leatherback turtles come to these beaches to lay their eggs during March to May. The turquoise water of Gandoca is truly a paradise on earth!
Manzanillo is the perfect place for those who want to get away from everything and relax, while feeling close to nature.
Puerto Viejo has a variety of water sports, hiking intense trails and a lively night life. There are also museums and galleries if you are looking for a little culture during your stay. It is the most popular town in the Caribbean, and you will find reggae and calypso beats on almost every corner giving a laid-back feeling that the area is famous for. The beaches are safe for swimming and are never crowded. Puerto Viejo is quickly growing with a pharmacy, bank, hardware stores, an organic farmers market, a good 24 hour emergency clinic, dentist and lots of boutiques selling almost everything.
Banco de Costa Rica is located at the entrance to Puerto Viejo near Black Beach. It has a an ATM that usually works, where you can pin US Dollars and Colones. Make sure you bring your passport and VISA card if you want to get cash from the teller.
Banco Nacional in Bri-Bri is about 15 km from Puerto Viejo up the mountains.
There are lots of other banks and ATMs in Limón, which is 1 ½ hours by bus from Puerto Viejo.
There are a couple of small grocery shops in Manzanillo. They are located on the main road towards the village.
There is a farmer’s market in Puerto Viejo on Saturday mornings, right behind the cultural center/high school.
There is a couple of big grocery stores in Puerto Viejo, one of which is called Super Old Harbour.
Hangover Cure “pipas”
A pipa is a young coconut from which one drinks the coconut water, which is cool and refreshing on a hot day. Drink this instead of Gatorade to rehydrate, also a great hangover cure!
Clinica Sunimedica can be found at the entrance to Puerto Viejo, phone 2750 0079. Alternatively, the Clinica Hone Creek, which is about 5 kilometers north of Puerto Viejo at “El Cruce”.
The nearest pharmacy is in Puerto Viejo, in the same square as the post office. Note that “Farmacia los Amigos” is closed for lunch.
Phone 2750-0230 in Puerto Viejo
Phone 2755-0217 in Cahuita
Phone 2751-0003 in Bri Bri .
The nearest post office is in Puerto Viejo called Correos de Costa Rica which is located in the square over by the bank.
The public phones can be used with coins or with Costa Rican phone cards. Cards can be purchased at the ATEC office and at other sites around town. International phone cards not purchased in Costa Rica have traditionally not worked in the public phones here on the coast.
There are a couple of public phones just in front of Maxi’s restaurant in the village.
Ask in the village as there are not very many official taxis in the area.
There are several good restaurants on the road between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo. Choose from seafood, Italian, Caribbean, Sushi and Steak, to name but a few. Maxi’s in Manzanillo’s village has great seafood. Usually there is live calypso music on weekends.