Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge

If you can only chose one national park to visit in the Southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge would be your best choice. The park consists of 12,382 land acres and 10,950 marine acres. This combination gives you a great variety of activities. Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge begins at the Cocles River and ends at the Sixalo River at the Panama border. The park includes pristine white sand beaches with Caribbean aquamarine colored water, coral reefs, high mountains, rainforest, mangroves, and swamps.

The mangroves of Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge are inhabited by caimans, iguanas, and waterfowl. The coral reef (1 of only 2 live coral reefs in Costa Rica) consists of 35 types of coral, 27 species of algae, 11 species of sponges, 34 species of mollusk, along with snails, lobsters, many varieties of sea urchins, and over 400 species of fish.

On the 6 miles of beach along Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, 4 species of sea turtles lay their eggs throughout the year. This is the most important nesting site for the leatherback turtles along the Southern Caribbean coastline from March thru July. February thru May you can find the hawksbill and loggerhead turtles nesting, and from July thru October the green sea turtles nest. Gandoca River estuary is nursery for tarpon, caiman, crocodiles, and manatee.

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is the only place in Costa Rica to find the jolillo palm and the sojo tree is in Monkey Point swamp, where you can also find secluded beaches with high cliffs of fossilized coral. Inland you will find monkeys, 2 & 3 toed sloths, toucans, iguanas, and geckos.

Popular activities include surfing on the east end of Manzillo Beach, horseback riding, bird / dolphin, and turtle watching. Fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, hiking at many different levels, and just relaxing on the beautiful beaches!

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge (established in 1985) does not have a typical wet and dry season, although you will find the least amount of rainfall in Sept / Oct and Feb / March. The average temperature is 79 degrees and annual rainfall is 98″.

The nearest town to Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is Puerto Viejo. GPS coordinates are Lat – 10.5779, Long – 83.518.

Pack light clothing (and certainly your bathing suit!) as it is usually hot and humid. You will also need raingear and insect repellent, and of course your camera and binoculars.

There is no entrance fee to Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge and you can stop at the Costa Rica Ministry of Environment in Manzillo to get free maps, use of restrooms and information about the park.

Related posts: