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Playa Manzanillo: Quiet and chill with nature close at hand

The End of the Road

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The village of Manzanillo has long been off the beaten track, even since the paved road arrived in 2003. This is as far as you can go along the coastal road towards Panama. This little town remains a vibrant outpost of Afro-Caribbean culture and has also remained pristine, thanks to the 1985 establishment of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, which includes the village and imposes strict regulations on regional development.

Activities are of a simple nature, in nature: hiking, snorkeling and kayaking are king. (As elsewhere, ask about riptides before heading out.) Other than that, you may find the occasional party at the locally renowned Maxi's bar and restaurant at the end of the road, which is the end of the line (where buses arrive).

To go beyond Manzanillo along the coast you'll need to continue on foot along the path into the refuge (a local guide is strongly recommended, both to see the maximum amount of nature and for security) or head out on a boat. A half day round trip hike will get you to lovely Punta Mona. Further southeast, deep in the reserve, is the village of Gandoca.

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Landmarks, Beaches

Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge

This protected area stretches from Punta Uva east to Manzanillo and beyond South all the way to Gandoca. Many of the hotels and businesses located in these areas are actually within the reserve so operate under restrictions that give priority to the wildlife. The protected area includes lowland rainforest, a wetland, a mangrove swamp and 10 km of beach.
 +506 2759 9100
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Manzanillo Beach

The long beach at Manzanillo stretches from the village south into the reserve. South from the village, a 4x4 or bicycle or walking is recommended on the rough sand road. North of Manzanillo to the point of Punta Uva is a quiet and wide stretch of beach which is another popular spot for surfing. The whole beach is also known as Playa Grande.
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Punta Mona

"Monkey Point" is a nice 1/2 day hike through the remote Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge from the end of the road in Manzanillo. A guide is strongly recommended.
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Almonds and Corals

24 room hotel with a variety of suites and rooms located beachfront. All rooms with private bath. Restaurant, bar and wellness spa on site.
 +506 2271-3000, 2759-9056
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 Average room rate: $165
 Average rating: 80 Very Good
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Cabinas YaMann

Swiss couple who rent bungalows. Clean accommodation with your own fridge in the cottage, fans, mosquito protection (windows and gable) and bed nets, balcony, 2 double beds, private bathroom with hot water, towels and cleaning every day. Pool, outdoor shared kitchen with free coffee. Laundry service. Wifi in the cabinas. Children welcome.
 +506 2759 9121
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 Average room rate: $75
 Average rating: 96 Exceptional
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Colores Seafront

Hotel and restaurant right in the heart of Manzanillo across from the beach. Simple rooms with private bath and minifridge. In the space formerly occupied by Mar y Sol Hostel.
 +506 6203 0798
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 Average room rate: $37
 Average rating: 92 Excellent
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El Colibri Lodge

Bed and breakfast inn in the jungle for nature lovers. Four rooms each with private terrace with hammock, queen bed, private bath. 500m by footpath to Playa Grande
 +506 2759 9036
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 Average room rate: $75
 Average rating: 90 Excellent
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Faith Glamping Dome

Located in Playa Grande just 10 minutes walking from the town of Manzanillo. Glamping is made up of units of Geodetic Domes (those used by NASA). Each elevated on a deck with its own private bathroom.
 +506 2750 0696
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 Average room rate: $120
 Average rating: 97 Exceptional
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Se Ua Bed and Breakfast

Sé Ua (“our home”) is a jungle style B&B, born from a desire to live in harmony with nature. Made of wooden decor, the 4 rooms are rustic but spacious and cozy (Wifi, private bathroom, terrace). 5 apartments also feature equipped kitchens. Breakfast and drinks are available in the lobby or just relax. The rain forest with lots of birds, monkeys and butterflies surrounds our tropical garden. They also offer outdoor activities, area tours and bicycle rental. Manzanillo is 5 minutes away on bicycle. Puerto Viejo is a 15-minute drive by car or bus.
 +506 8807 6663
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 Average room rate: $52
 Average rating: 88 Excellent
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Punta Mona Center

100 acre organic farm, community and center for sustainable living and education located a boat ride or hike south of Manzanillo. They have an office in Puerto Viejo located behind ATEC across the street from Cafe Viejo. The mission at Punta Mona is to expose all people who come to the farm to the ideals of Permaculture and educate about sustainability. They also offer lodging to have overnight visitors for a reasonable rate which includes 3 organic meals, lodging, and use of kayaks.
 +506 8321 2788
 Average room rate: $40
 Average rating: 97 Exceptional
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Vacation Rentals

Casa Del Mar

Two separate small houses built of beautiful local wood in a tranquil beachfront location in Manzanillo. Casa 1 is equipped with a double bed and 2 single beds catering to 4 people and Casa 2 has two double beds and a single bed with a maximum of 5 people. Each casita has a kitchen, hot water shower and balcony with chairs and hammocks.
 +506 5017 8099
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 Average room rate: $85
 Average rating: 93 Excellent
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Casa Namasol

Cozy rooms and various jungle tours. The 4 rooms (2 up, 2 down) are directly across from the jungle and a mere 150 meters from the beach. All include private bathrooms, hot-water showers, good mattresses, mosquito nets, ceiling fans, and balconies. There is a small community kitchen. Also offers different tours like the jungle hike through the Manzanillo-Gandoca Wildlife Refuge, Bird watching, Gandoca lagoon kayak tour, turtle watching, Indian reserve etc with local guide Omar Cook who has worked for 12 years as a trained certified jungle guide. Previously known as Bucus Cabinas.
 +506 8932 0030, 2759 9143
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 Average room rate: $65
 Average rating: 82 Very Good
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Chile Verde

Vacation rental house with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a patio with sea views.
 +506 8396 3247
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 Average room rate: $80
 Average rating: 83 Very Good
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Congo Bongo EcoVillage

Eight beautiful beach nature houses for rent. On the 15 acre property they have flowers, fruit and giant rainforest trees. There is a private walkway to the quiet, unspoiled beach, featuring the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea.
 +506 2759 9016
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 Average room rate: $210
 Average rating: 95 Exceptional
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El Arbol Jungle Houses

El Árbol (the tree) is a vacation house & jungle villa rental. Fascinating jungle experience in the Caribbean rainforest of Costa Rica. This lodge on 16+ acres of private property is situated in the wildlife refuge, with the beautiful Caribbean sea only about a kilometer away. You will stay in one of the luxurious, fully equipped houses on stilts. Experience the jungle like never before. Have the monkeys waiting outside your window as you wake up to the sounds of tropical birds singing. There are sloths, nosebears, other mammals, frogs, and so much more.
 +506 8721 3949
 Average room rate: $150
 Average rating: 95 Exceptional
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Isabelle's Garden Home

Open air modern home located on a quiet road in Manzanillo, walking distance to the beach, restaurants and supermarkets. The house has 2 bedrooms and a loft upstairs, the master bedroom with a queen size bed, private, open air bathroom with a 2 person jacuzzi tub, as well as a cozy terrace with hammock. The second bedroom accommodates one child and includes a single bed, and the loft accommodates the fourth person or two on a sofa bed. Downstairs is the living room, fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher, laundry and the deck.
 +506 8628 2663
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 Average room rate: $150
 Average rating: 93 Excellent
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Jungle Dreamz

Two comfortable and contemporary Caribbean style jungle houses, Casa Luka and Casa Rio. Both with two bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen, bath with hot water, parking, safe. Each house is suitable for 2 to 4 people and is located just 300 meters from the colorful village of Manzanillo and its white sandy beach.
 +506 8315 7245
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 Average room rate: $110
 Average rating: 94 Excellent
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Pangea Lodge

Luxury 2 and 3 bedroom vacation homes on a private property with swimming pool, tropical gardens, relaxation areas and grills. Each house is fully equipped with ensuite baths, well equipped kitchens, wifi.
 +506 8795-7555
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 Average room rate: $120
 Average rating: 89 Excellent
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Cool and Calm Cafe

Restaurant with a menu inspired by the Caribbean and influenced by cuisines around the world. Chef Andy Cook grew up on the Talamanca Coast right here in Manzanillo where he grew, harvested, and caught much of the food he and his family cooked at home.
 2750 3151, 88437460
 Average rating: 88 Excellent
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Maxi's Restaurant

Traditional Caribbean restaurant that has stood at the end of the road for many years and is still famous for their seafood. There is a full service restaurant and a small quick service option as well.
 +506 2759-0673
 Average rating: 76 Good
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Tours and Activities

Ara Manzanillo

Organization dedicated to reintroduction and conservation of the endangered Great Green Macaw. These had previously been become virtually extinct in the South Caribbean region. When you visit the Manzanillo fieldstation you are directly supporting conservation efforts. You will also have a unique experience coming up close to these incredible creatures. Visitation is daily from 3:00pm to 4:00pm with prior reservation only by telephone or email.
 +506 8971-1436
 Average rating: 98 Exceptional
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Nature Observatorio

Treehouse suspended 25 metres above the ground. Acomodates 4 people or day visits. Cold shower and dry eco toilet. Enjoy a walk through the Primary forest, climb the tree and relax with the spectacular view of nature around.
 +506 8628 2663
 Average rating: 100 Exceptional
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Reymond Tours Manzanillo

Local tour guide specializing in tours of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. Also offers a nice selection of custom tours of the South Caribbean with an experienced, local guide.
 506 8675 9689
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Wild Ginger Community Herbal Center

Community based education center is in the heart of Manzanillo. The center hosts workshops, groups, apprentices, plant walks, and serves the community with herbal wellness consultations as well as custom herbal formulas. The educational programs highlight the local plant people, farmers, herbalists, healers, seedsavers, the keepers of this knowledge and culture, those who are helping it to continue on and to thrive into the future. The programs support first and foremost the local economy. Also rents a cabina just one block to the beach.
 +506 8366 2873
 Average room rate: $50
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Additional comments from our visitors about Manzanillo

Write a comment/review

What are people saying about us?

Luis Castro

Hola y Saludos! Estuve en la reserv hace 11 meses con un amigo, fue una experiencia unica! Ahora quiero volver pero por distintos asuntos, debo asistir solo, lo cual no es problema ya que soy fotografo y es un oficio de mucha paciencia(muchas personas no lo entienden). Cual es el peligro de ir solo? No es mi primera vez solo en el caribe sur en general, se que desafortunadamente hay mucho prejucio acerca de la provincia, pero la Reserva puede ser muy sola en ocasiones.


October 21, 2015

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