National Park

Hystorical Background:
Gandoca - Manzanillo is a mixed National Wildlife Refuge. The most important ecosistems within the Refuge are the wetlands : swamps, lagoons, flooded forests, the reef and marine plant and alga floors. It protects the habitat of endangered species such as manatee or seacow (Trichechus manatus) and marine turtles such as leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), green (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), which nest on the costs of the Refuge. Also, it gives shelter to mammals and birds. South of Punta Mona there is the only cativo (Prioria copaifera) forest left on the South Caribe of the country. Conservation and sustained management of these ecosistems, with the participation of the local communities, is the main objective for the activities of this Refuge.

Gandoca - Manzanillo is located on the South - East Caribean coast, between the mouths of Cocles and Sixaola rivers, in the province of Limón, canton of Talamanca, district of Sixaola.
The Refuge is located 203 kilometers from San José and 71 kilometers from Limón. Gandoca Sector is 95 kilometers from Limón, by the Bri Bri - Sixaola road.

Flora and fauna:

In Gandoca Manzanillo marine and terrestrian enviroments provide a very diverse habitat, which allows the permanence of fringing, patch, barrier reef. Wetlands are conformed mainly by golillo palm trees (Raphia taedigera), mangroves, cativo trees and herbaceous swamps. Alluvial forests in drained terrains and forests on hills hold species such as golillo palm trees, 'orey', 'cativo', 'sangrillo', 'caobilla' and several species of mangrove. Herbaceous swamps are formed by species such as 'uña de gato' (cat claw), 'varilla negra' (black stick) and floating vegetation. Hillside forests contain enormous trees of 'almendro de montaña', 'cerillo', 'caobilla', 'cativo' and 'sangrillo'. The coral reef and marine plant and alga floors provide shelter and food to species such as manatee and the thorny lobster. Other protected species are crocodiles, caimans, otters, peccaries, pacas, spider monkeys, curré toucans, parrots and great curassows.

Social, economic and historical aspects:

Gandoca Manzanillo has few inhabitants. People are concentrated in villages such as Punta Uva, Manzanillo, Punta Cocles and Gandoca.
Until last century this region was occupied by amerindians,who have had to move inside land, forced by the miskitos indians ( from Nicaragua ) and later by people from Antillas Island, who colonised the zone.
The main activities of the actual inhabitants are tourism and subsistence fishing.

Interest facts:
Extension: It is 9.449 hectares (4.436 of them marines and 5.013 terrestrial).
Climate: The climate of the Refuge maintains the tipical pattern of the Southern sector of the Costa Rican Caribean coast. Rainfall diminishes between January and April and from the end of September until the begining of October.
Life zone: Humid Tropical Forest.
Highest altitudes: 185 meters above sea level on Cerros de Manzanillo
Activities allowed inside the refuge:

* Guided tours for observing the leatherback turtle nesting, between February and May.
* Observation of dolphins.
* Diving at the reef sector.
* Hiking through the forest.
* Horseback riding.
* Kayak on sea, rivers etc.
* Surfing
* Caves
* Sailing.
* Bird watching.
* Enjoing the sun, sea and beach.
*Along the Sector Punta Cocles - Manzanillo there are from hostels to hotels with swiming pool and conditioned air.


* Do not bother, maltreat nor trap the wildlife.
* It is prohibited the extraction of plants and animals, without the official authorization.
* Do not drive on the beach.
* At Sector Punta Cocles - Punta Mona it is prohibited to ride aquatic motorbikes.
* Bonfires are allowed only at indicated sites .
* Fishing is allowed only with string and hook.
* Avoid walking on corals.

Enjoy your trip !