Manzanillo: Located in the heart of Wildlife Refuge Gandoca – Manzanillo. Within this ecological wonderland is the community of Manzanillo, founded in 1850 and declared a protected area in 1985, with a small population originally from the Bocas del Toro, Panama, Jamaica, who came to this place for Turtle hunting and the cultivation of cocoa.
Manzanillo’s name is given from the existence of an ancient tree of the same name that was planted in the center of town in 1940. It is a very poisonous species; the scientific name is Manchineltree (lat. Mancinella of Hippomane).
Today the village consists of a primary school, two churches of different religious beliefs, a restaurant and some “sodas” or coffee shops where you can enjoy delicious Afro-Caribbean food, a soccer field, a Tourist Police post. Manzanillo is a quiet and relaxed place just very influenced by the Afro-Caribbean customs and traditions.
The main economic activities of the inhabitants today are tourism and fishing for subsistence. Some women are engaged in the preparation of Caribbean food such as bread with coconut, paty, Rondon, seedling tart, etc.. A common sight around the beach is to see the local women developing afro hairstyles: braids, cornrows or extensions.
The main attraction of this small town is its fabulous stretch of white sandy beach, lined with palms and lapped by crystal clear and calm water.
The characteristics that also meet Manzanillo deal with recreation, sports such as triathlons, recreational and competitive mountain bike, open water swimming competition, soccer and volleyball championships. The playing domino is a recreational activity rooted in the Caribbean culture and forms part of the daily life of the premises of Manzanillo. Therefore, it is very common to participate in tournaments or just sit in the afternoon to play table games.
The National Wildlife Refuge Gandoca-Manzanillo
This great place is located in the southeastern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, from the Rio Cocles’ mouth to Sixaola River located in the province of Limón, Talamanca Canton. Only 4 hours from San José and 72 kilometers from the city of Limon this wonderful paradise is located, where nature lovers can enjoy an interesting experience.
In 1985, The Refuge was established in order to protect the flora and fauna of the area, especially those who are in danger of extinction, such as the Manatee. It comprises 65% of rainforest and other marine habitats, making one of the most beautiful in Costa Rica. This area protects an area of 5000 hectares as the land area and 4500 hectares in the marine area. It is a sparsely populated area and its population is concentrated mainly in the villages of Punta Uva, Manzanillo, Punta Cocles and Gandoca. The Refuge -from the ecological point of view- is very important because it contains the only intact mangrove swamp on the Atlantic and a primary rainforest. Here you will find many species of birds and mammals and other species native to the tropics. Besides its beaches and forests, it is a wetland and mangrove swamp, it protects the only palm swamp jolillo Orey and Costa Rica. Here we find the Gandoca Lagoon, with a lush mangrove forest inhabited by endangered animals such as the manatee, alligators, water birds, sloths, two species of monkeys, raccoons, snakes, orioles, montezuma and toucans.
The marine and terrestrial environments in Gandoca-Manzanillo, provide a diverse habitat that allows the permanence of many species. The wetlands (consisting mainly of yolillales, mangroves and marshes cativeras crops), the alluvial forests in drained land of hills and forests are characterized by the presence of species such as raffia, Orey, cant, sangrillo, caobilla and several mangrove species. The wetlands consist of herbaceous species such as cat’s claw, black rod and floating vegetation. In slope forests there are huge mountain almond trees, match, caobilla, cant and sangrillo.
The marine life is exotic and exuberant, including coral reefs, seagrass fern (formed by the turtle grass, manatee grass and the various species of algae) provide shelter for lobsters, sponges, anemones, shrimps, crabs, crustaceans and a variety of colorful fish such as blue parrotfish, angelfish, Venus, among others. Besides the three species of dolphins: Bottle Nose, the Tucuxi, Atlantic Spotted, can be seen in these areas.
The Refuge protects the habitat of threatened species like the manatee and turtles Marian Leatherback, Loggerhead, Green and Carey, which spawn during the months of March to May in these Caribbean coasts, some with dimensions of 2 meters in length.
The conservation and sustainable management of these ecosystems, is given with the participation of communities, being the focus of management actions in this refuge.