At Manzanillo; a southern point on the Caribbean Coast, you see a different side to this bountiful country. Though home to some of Costa Rica’s most remote areas of natural beauty, its not a common stop on most tourist routes, meaning you can truly get to know Costa Rican culture here.
Almost all of Costa Rica's parks are dedicated to tourism and some have not managed to prioritise the nature that they supposedly promote, with the entry price going up year on year and it's difficult to appreciate the surrounding nature because of all the concrete paths and structures. Manzanillo Park, one of the last National Parks to be declared as such, is in total contrast to these other parks. It leaves its visitors free to wander off around its many paths.
Along these paths you will find the peace and quiet necessary to observe the diverse wildlife here. You will need it - since these animals are not used to contact with humans. There are pink dragon flies and tiny red frogs, or bring along binoculars to be able to spot the monkeys and numerous birds camouflaged in their natural surroundings.
Manzanillo village is tiny, so unless you have made a reservation in one of the few accomodations in the park, book a place to stay in Puerto Viejo which is about 20 kilometres away. To travel into the park again, you can hire a bike or go on the bus.
Cycling into the park comes highly recommended and is an unforgettable introduction to the park. As you travel down the coastal route and the tranquil village of Manzanillo you will come to a small river. Leave your bike here, roll up your trouser legs and make sure your valuables are somewhere safe because crossing this stream is the next step in your journey into the park.
The final part of the path you have to take is strewn with obstacles, more fun than challenging but likely to make you quite dirty. The rainy climate of the Caribbean Coast means that paths can become muddy, so take shoes that you don't mind getting dirty and certainly don’t count on flip flops!
Once in the park, the first stage of the hike follows the coast in fairly open forest, lined with little beaches which will already begin to tempt you. The path quickly leads to the park's main view point, and one of the only elements of the park made for tourists: a platform with a magnificent view over the coast. The enormous waves crashing in are beautiful and hypnotic. Continue along the path along hidden pools and small creeks where you can stay and explore as long as you like. The reflections of the rocks plunging into the park's clear waters make this an idyllic, picture perfect place.