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Gandoca Manzamillo Wildlife Refuge

This National Wildlife Refuge is on the coast just north of the border with Panama. Its humid rainforest, coral reef and two mangrove swamps are home to some of the country’s most endangered flora and fauna. The beach is used as a nesting site for several species of turtles between March and May.
Reasons to visit Gandoca Manzamillo Wildlife Refuge include:

  • The wildlife found in this corner of Costa Rica is varied; you could see caiman, manatees, crocodiles, tapirs, toucans, parakeets and frigate birds.
  • The coral reefs form the perfect habitat for a myriad of tropical fish, it's a great location for seasonal snorkelling or diving.
  • Far less visited than Tortuguero in the north, this reserve makes for a more secluded experience.
  • Manzanillo village is located within the reserve. Strict building regulations have ensured the natural harmony of Manzanillo is maintained and the area is unspoiled by development.
  • The local Afro-Caribbean culture gives the area something a bit different from the rest of the country, life happens at a relaxed, gentle pace.
  • There are some great hiking trails in the reserve which take in beach and forest, allowing you to discover several types of terrain in a short period of time.
  • The seasons here are the opposite of the rest of Costa Rica, so it's best to visit March to April or September to October.
  • Turtle enthusiasts should visit between March and May to coincide with turtle nesting season.
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Gandoca Manzamillo Wildlife Refuge accommodation

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facts and information

Time: GMT -6 hours

Flight time:

The flying time is about 12 hours from the UK. There are now direct flights from the UK using British Airways. We work with all the major airlines and can offer flights from the UK or via the USA, Panama or a European hub. With the connection times you are looking at around 15 or 16 hours.

Language: Spanish is the official language. English is widely spoken throughout Costa Rica


Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.


There are no compulsory vaccinations.



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