- Encounters with locals
- Beach / Seaside Resort
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Hiking / Trekking
- Sustainable Tourism
You sometimes get the impression that there's some sort of battle going on between the Pacific and the Caribbean when you talk itineraries with other travelers. So, the village of Manzanillo is yet another excellent reason for including the east coast in your trip to Costa Rica.
The town itself is small and attractive. Staying there means you can get into the Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge at dawn. I ended my tour of this special country there, and it made me feel like I had seen the best firework show ever! The setting is wonderful. An endless procession of ecosystems that make you feel you're entering another world - perhaps even the one where you will achieve enlightenment!
OK, so I'm getting a bit carried away here...But what can I say about walking in a fabulous tropical forest where you come face to face with families of raccoon, coatis, sloths and monkeys, not to mention the reptiles, butterflies, and brightly colored birds, all set off with views over a glorious coast...you've got to admit it's cool.
So, in just two words: Go there!
The long beach and wild Manzanillo refuge make this small village an idyllic place to visit. The sea is calm - so not the best for surfing, but it's great for snorkeling and fishing!
Choose the day you go hiking carefully. Don't go in the rainy season, as the paths are slippery and you won't enjoy the walk; you'll spend the whole time trying not to fall over and won't be able to appreciate the scenery. The day I went to the refuge, I saw a band of coatis scrambling down a tree to the rhthym of monkeys' chatter. We also saw a boa wrapped around a tree, a flying toucan and had morpho butterflies flutter around us several times. This hike is an adventure in itself; you'll cross streams, clamber through ferns and need to watch where you put your feet. All this effort is worth it when you reach the amazing sight of the Manzanillo rock sitting in the sea.
You can also go on nighttime walks to see turtles laying their eggs on the beach.
And for those of you who don't want to play at being Indiana Jones, you can hang out on the beach or play a game of dominoes with the locals.