Community and Lifestyle

Things to do in Manzanillo, Costa Rica.

Most inhabitants of the small town center of Manzanillo inhabits are local Caribbean Costa Ricans.  Most activity centers around the beach and the main restaurant in town, Maxi’s, which hosts Reggae concerts and dance parties. The town has one small convenience store, a few restaurants, and a youth hostel. Residents head to nearby Puerto Viejo for their banking, post office, grocery, and medical needs. Puerto Viejo and the towns near Manzanillo also provide many more restaurant options.

Most expats live in the jungle just north of town across from the beach Playa Grande near Punta Uva. While Playa Manzanillo has fishing boats and local families, Playa Grande fills up with surfers. The scene is Playa Grande is international with local Costa Rican surfers, European and North American expats, and tourists on surf holiday.

Getting Around


The neighborhood of Manzanillo can be navigated easily on foot. You can explore the national park through hiking trails or taking a boat along the coast. To access nearby towns and the conveniences in Puerto Viejo, most residents drive cars or scooters. Bicycles are also popular as the road between Manzanillo and Puerto Viejo is paved and mostly flat.

Activities and Attractions


From town a trail leads across a river into the jungle of the Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. The park has more than 360 species of tropical birds and turtles frequently nest on the white sand coves in the park. Monkeys, sloths, lizards, and even wild cats live in the jungle and it’s quite common to spot plenty of animals on nature hikes. Indigenous tribes even inhabit some areas of the park.

Popular activities in the park include snorkeling to spot manatees and dolphins, hiking out to Punta Mona a few miles into the jungle, which has a sustainable permaculture farm, and climbing into the coral cave.



Manzanillo has two surf breaks, the first in Playa Grande which is a popular beach break and the second in the national park which breaks against a rock and is typically surfed only by experts.



Small fishing boats are available for hire in town, and when the sea is calm you can catch tarpon, sailfish, group, barracuda, tuna, marlin, red snapper, and mackerel and grill it on a barbecue on the beach.


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