Are you in Puerto Viejo, and want to visit the beaches of the Manzanillo National Park (Costa Rica) and enjoy the views from its viewpoint?
Below you will find a description of the different areas of the national park, what to do and how to get to Manzanillo
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MANZANILLO National Park (Limón)
If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica (👉COSTA RICA GUIDE), you should know that it is a country characterized by the beauty of its beaches, mountains, volcanoes and the diversity of its wildlife.
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The Manzanillo National Park is a must if you are in the Puerto Viejo de Talamanca area. Not only for its beaches, but also for its fauna and the activities it offers you.
It is a jewel where you can watch dolphins, go scuba diving or snorkeling, lie on its virgin beaches and get acquainted with the nesting of turtles.
We could divide it into 4 zones:
PLAYA GRANDE & PLAYA MANZANILLO
The first thing you will see when you get off the bus is the main beach, which is made up of Playa Grande and Playa Manzanillo. It is a long beach with a supermarket and a couple of restaurants and where most people arrive by car to have a picnic or spend the day.
The bus stop is right in front of it and it is also the end of the route, so you will surely not get lost.
PUNTA MANZANILLO VIEWPOINT
To go to the other areas you have to cross a small bridge located at the very end of Manzanillo beach. After crossing it, there is a small beach that stands out and that stole my heart (it really is a dream), full of palm trees and very welcoming.
If you continue walking, you will find Punta Manzanillo, a spectacular viewpoint from where you can contemplate the entire coast. The viewpoint itself is not very big, but the views are really nice. The truth is that I fell in love with this park and would go again.
From there you can follow the coast to explore the beaches on the other side of Punta Manzanillo. Some are easily accessible and others can only be reached by doing a bit of hiking. The further south you go, the more deserted the beaches will be.
There is a path, very well laid out and wide, which is easy to walk and which reaches the area of Punta Mona, one of the jewels of the park.
If you want to visit it but you don’t like hiking, or you prefer to enjoy the views from the sea, you can also go on the boat that leaves from the main beach of Manzanillo (although there are no fixed hours).
In Punta Mona you can breathe a lot of tranquility. It is a place full of peace where you can spend the night (there is a small hotel) and enjoy the park more calmly. If you dare, the next day you can continue to Gandoca.
From Punta Mona you can walk to Gandoca along the beach, which is long and long and quiet, there are only palm trees and monkeys.
I did not get to enjoy Gandoca beach for reasons of time, but I saw the area and they also told me that it is a really beautiful beach.
ITINERARY TO visit MANZANILLO NATIONAL PARK
If you go, I recommend you do the area of Playa Manzanillo and Punta Manzanillo in the same day or, if you love soaking up the place and you can spend hours on the beach, you can spread it over two days.
Another day go with the little boat to Punta Mona and take it in a calm, serenity and relaxation plan: bathe calmly, watch the time pass by lying in a hammock and later go watch the sunset drinking a smoothie or drinking a coconut. You can spend the night there and the next day walk along the beach to Gandoca.
But if you prefer to see a lot in a short time, you can choose to visit the park in one or two days.
How to get to MANZANILLO
You can get there by bus from Puerto Viejo and it will cost you 670 CRC. Use the same means of transportation if you stay at nearby beaches such as Playa Cocles and Playa Chiquita.
If you like to ride a bike, you can rent one from US$5 per day, but they are very simple and old bikes. Although it is a totally feasible option, I do not recommend it since temperatures in the area are usually high and the sun is very strong.
How to et to Manzanillo from San José & tortuguero
It can also be reached from San José and Tortuguero, and you have the option of doing it by public transport or choosing a transfer; although if you go by public transport you will have to go through Puerto Viejo first and then go to Manzanillo.
And these are the directions to get there by public transport: how to get to Puerto Viejo from San José and the explanation on how to get to Puerto Viejo from Tortuguero.
I enclose the map so you can find it easier:
Useful stuff for your trip to Costa Rica
Below, you will find some products that will be very useful during your trip to Costa Rica.
In addition, the options that I recommend are committed to the environment/social causes and are vegan.
Carrying a waterproof windbreaker in your suitcase is essential in case temperatures drop, it rains unexpectedly, or to go hiking.
When traveling, it’s important to choose a jacket that is lightweight, takes up little space and that you can use in different situations; that is to say, that transpires, is waterproof and has a hood to protect you properly from bad weather.
Gopro 11 Black
The GOPRO 11 (👉 PRICE) is a great choice if you are visiting natural areas, practicing adventure sports or want to make videos underwater, e.g. while scuba diving or snorkeling.
In addition, with its stabilization and Horizon Lock function, it will allow you to make incredibly stable videos even in adverse situations (such as walking, running or riding a motorcycle). In addition, it comes with an amazing 5.3k image quality.
👉 GOPRO 11 PRICE + specs
3-in-1 hiking shoes
These La Sportiva shoes are designed to run in the mountains, thanks to this you can use them for hiking, go out to run and do tourism ; saving space in your suitcase.
They are made with goretex, which means they protect you from the inclement weather weather (such as rain, ice or cold) and are adherent to the ground. This makes them ideal for traveling due to their versatility.
TOURS & ACTIVIties iN COSTA RICA
Apart from the little beach, in Costa Rica there is much more to see and discover. Its tourism focuses on the country’s nature and fauna, and it is very common to visit its Natural Parks.
Here you can find the activities and tours that you can do during your stay, to get to know this beautiful country more closely.
What to do in MANZANILLO
If you like to do activities or want to take part in a tour, this is what the park offers you:
Diving and snorkeling
In the park is the best preserved coral reef on the Atlantic coast. It is located in front of Punta Uva, Punta Manzanillo and Punta Mona.
You can find diving or snorkeling tours in the area and appreciate this underwater world that awaits you with two great surprises: the park is the natural habitat of sea turtles and the manatee, which must be an incredible animal to see. I leave you a picture in case you don’t know it.
Turtles, dolphins and crocodiles
From March to May is the nesting season for the leatherback turtle and tours can be hired to see them and also to observe the dolphins in the area.
Costa Rica is a country very rich in fauna, and completing your experience in Manzanillo being able to see these animals in the wild will make your trip even more unforgettable.
If you like the most adventurous and dangerous style, you should know that crocodiles and alligators also nest in the park. If you are excited to see them, you should inform yourself and ask if it is possible to take a boat or kayak excursion.
Hiking + beach
This is the cheapest plan, and one that you can do independently and spontaneously, since it does not require booking tours.
You can get to the main beach and jump from cove to cove to enjoy the scenery, swim and have a picnic. If you don’t feel like bringing your own food, don’t worry, because there is a restaurant on the main beach.
And when you have a full belly, you can go for a walk, follow the path for a while and observe the manzanillo forest area. The landscape is not spectacular, but you can see some fauna (such as colored frogs, and giant nests of ants)
Advice: if it has rained the night before, it will be full of big puddles and mud, a lot of mud. You will not be able to do the trail in flip flops, but you will need closed shoes that adapt well to the foot.
Is Costa Rica SAFE to Travel?
Costa Rica is a moderately dangerous country, where nothing should happen to you if you go carefully and take precautions. Remember to follow these recommendations:
- In case of robbery, do not resist physically.
- Do not show a high purchasing power, that is, do not go with jewels, bags, etc … that are expensive.
- Be careful if you go out at night, and stay in crowded places where you are surrounded by other people.
- Thefts are usual, so don’t go with the camera or mobile in your hand or hang out of your neck.
- Try to avoid carrying the backpack on the back. Put it in front of you, or use a belt pouch or a cross bag.
Personally, I spent 3 months traveling alone in Costa Rica (I visited San José, Puerto Viejo, Tortuguero, Dominical, Uvita, Bay Drake and Puerto Jiménez) and I did not find myself in any really serious situation.
Going down the street with the camera, several Costa Rican people approached and warned me that they were carefully with robberies, since they told me that they are very frequent.
In my case, during the trip they tried to steal 2 times and, luckily, I realized on time and I could avoid it. In any case, it is always a good idea to have travel insurance (👉5% discount) that can compensate you financially and help you if a medical emergency occurs.
If you are interested in traveling alone, I recommend this article about the reasons and benefits of traveling alone and this other article with tips for traveling alone being a woman. I encourage you to try it since it is a great and very profitable experience for oneself.
Eating VEGAN in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is not a country faced with vegan food. Anyway, they have some traditional dishes that are vegan or that you can ask without egg or sauces such as the pico of rooster (rice with beans for breakfast), black bean soup or rice with vegetables.
You should always ask if the purés or soups are made with some type of dairy product or meat broth, since at first glance they might seem vegan dishes but not be.
In San José you can find some vegan restaurants, but when you leave the capital the offer is very limited or non -existent. Next, I make three recommendations and in this link you can read tips to travel vegan.
- Try to stay in hotels that are characterized by cooking vegan and vegetarian dishes. This is the best option and the most practical for not having to be looking for places where to eat comfortable without always repeating the same dishes.
- Before going on a tour that includes a meal, always mention that you are vegan or vegetarian, so that they can adapt the food.
- Costa Rica is a country where you can find a variety of fresh products (fruits and vegetables) to prepare salads and breakfast with fruits. In any city or town, you will easily find some supermarket or stalls on the street where you can buy groceries.
I hope this post has been helpful to you and that you have a great time in Costa Rica!