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Playa Manzanillo: Quiet and chill with nature close at hand

Manzanillo and South to Gandoca

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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 which is reached from the main inland highway via a 4x4 track or by boat.

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Hostels

Punta Mona Center
 www.puntamona.org

The Punta Mona Center for Regenerative Design & Botanical Studies is an 100 acre organic farm, a Community and Center for Sustainable Living and Education located on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. 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.
 8321 2788
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 Average room rate: $40
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Mar y Sol Hostel

Manzanillo's only hostel. Offers dorms and private rooms. Shared kitchen free wi-fi, lockers, parking, full service restaurant.
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 Average room rate: $30
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Hotels

Almonds and Corals

Located in the heart of the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, this Costa hotel is a delightful relaxing place full of the magic touch of Nature; a unique idea for jungle beach accommodations.
 +506 2271-3000, 2759-9056
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 Average room rate: $195
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Cabinas YaMann

Couple from Switzerland who rent bungalows in the vivacious village of Manzanillo. They offer travelers comfortable and 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, outdoor Kitchen, towels and cleaning every day, laundry service. Free Coffee in the Kitchen. Wifi in the cabinas. No TV and no pool, no pets allowed. Children are welcome those up to 10 years old stay for free.
 +506 2759 9121
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 Average room rate: $140
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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.
 8807 6663
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 Average room rate: $40
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Landmarks, Beaches

Gandoca

The village of Gandoca located near the Panama border. This village is located near prime turtle nesting grounds. This village is very remote and access should be arrange with a local guide via boat or 4x4. There are some basic cabinas in Gandoca for overnight accommodations.
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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.
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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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Restaurants & Bars

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.
 2759-0673
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Tours and Activities

The Ara Project
 thearaproject.org

Dedicated to conservation of Costa Rica’s two native species of macaws: the endangered Great Green Macaw and Scarlet Macaw. The Manzanillo site is dedicated to the reintroduction of Great Greens that had been become virtually extinct in the South Caribbean region. When you visit the sites you are directly supporting conservation of macaws in Costa Rica. You will also have a unique experience coming up close to these incredible creatures. Visitation is daily from 3:00pm to 4:30pm with prior reservation only by telephone or email manzanillo@thearaproject.org
 8971-1436
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Centro Ashé Herbal Education 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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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.
 8628 2663
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Vacation Rentals

Puerto Viejo Top PicksCongo Bongo Ecolodges
 www.congo-bongo.com

Seven beautiful beach nature houses for rent. On the 13 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: $165
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Puerto Viejo Top PicksEl Arbol Jungle Houses
 www.elarbolcostarica.com

El Árbol (the tree) is a vacation house & jungle villa rental. Fascinating jungle experience in the Caribbean rainforest of Costa Rica! Our 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 our 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
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 Average room rate: $130
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Bucus Cabins and Tours

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. Also known as Casa Namasol.
 +506 8932 0030, 2759 9143
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 Average room rate: $65
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Casa Del Mar

Two separate small houses 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
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Isabelle's Garden Home

Two bedroom home accommodates 4 people. Upstairs is the Master bedroom with jacuzzi and cozy balcony with hammock, the second bedroom with single bed and an small office with a sofa bed with mosquito net. Downstairs is the living room area, the kitchen with dishwasher, blender, coffee maker, toaster etc, the laundry with washer and dryer, and the deck.
 +506 8628 2663
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 Average room rate: $150
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Jungle Dreamz Vacation Houses

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
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The Dutch Rooms

Several houses for rent in the heart of Manzanillo. Previously known as Faya Lobi now under renovation by new owners.
 +506 7187 9999
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Other - Unclassified

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.
 2750 0696
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 Average room rate: $120
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Additional comments from our visitors about Manzanillo

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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.

Gracias

October 21, 2015

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