Gandoca – Manzanillo Reserve

Gandoca-Manzanillo is a mixed National Wildlife Refuge (state and private), where the combination of landscapes of land, beach and sea, added to the local culture makes the site a very attractive place for visitors.

The conservation and sustainable management of these ecosystems is carried out in parallel with the participation of the communities, where the habitat of threatened species such as manatees and sea turtles is protected.

It follows the general weather pattern typical of the south of the Costa Rican Caribbean coast, with a decrease in precipitation between January and April and September-October.

El Refugio is located southeast of the Caribbean coast, between the mouth of the Cocles River and the Sixaola River, in the province of Limón, canton of Talamanca, district of Sixaola. 

The Manzanillo sector is accessed by continuing the road from Puerto Viejo to 71 km from the center of Limón, while the Laguna Gandoca sector is accessed by the road that connects Bri-Brí with Sixaola 95 km from the center of Limón.

Recommended activities:
● Guided tours for the observation of leatherback nesting during the months of February to May.
● Dolphin watching.
● Diving in the reef sector.
● Walks through the woods.
● Horseback riding.
● Boat trips.
● Bird watching.
● Enjoy the sun, sea and beach.
● Kayak in the sea and broken.
● Visit Indigenous Reservations.
● Walks through the town.

It is a mixed type refuge. Its most important ecosystems are its yellow sand beaches and wetlands: marshes, lagoons, flooded forests, reefs, beds of seagrass plants and algae.
The conservation and sustainable management of these ecosystems is carried out in parallel with the participation of the communities, since this is the central axis of the management actions in this Refuge.
The refuge protects about 5 km2 of reef off Uva, Manzanillo and Mona points. Among the coral species are cerebriformes and sea fans. It also protects the only natural oyster mangrove bank (Crassostrea rhizophorae) in the reef zone on the coastal strip. It also protects wildlife, especially those endangered or with small populations.
It has a lagoon, by which this portion of the Atlantic coast is classified as tropical humid forest.
The primary forest remaining in this area is of unique value, because of the small relative area covered by this life zone of the lowlands of the Atlantic coast. South of Punta Mona, there is the only remnant of cativo forest in the southern Caribbean of the country.
In the Refuge there is only one life zone: the Tropical Humid Forest.
The area has a great diversity of terrestrial habitats with patches of primary forests and numerous sweet and marine habitats, including the coral reef that is preserved in better conditions on the Atlantic coast. It protects the habitat of threatened species such as the manatee and sea turtles.
Between Gandoca and Punta Cocles there are rocks from the Quaternary period, including sedimentary rocks that are found in very evident fluvial and coastal deposits.
The refuge is part of a coastal unit of marine origin, called the emerged coral platform, as well as a plain (southeast of Manzanillo), with swamp characteristics.
Because of its natural conditions and the combination of landscapes, land, beach, sea, added to the local culture makes the site a very attractive place for scientists and visitors looking for recreation.