Scarlet macaw
Scarlet macaw

Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge Hike, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Take a guided hike through a seldom-visited wildlife refuge of white sand beaches, coral reefs and untouched rainforest


Embark on a guided hike through the breathtaking Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge in Southeast Costa Rica, home to white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and lush rainforests. Spot rare wildlife, such as turtles and manatees, and learn about the refuge's history from your expert guide. Enjoy a snack at the Manzanillo Viewpoint overlooking the ocean before visiting the Ara Project, which focuses on protecting and reintroducing the endangered great green macaw to their natural habitat.


  • Hike through the diverse and beautiful Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge with a knowledgeable guide
  • Spot unique wildlife including turtles, manatees, crocodiles, and dolphins in their natural habitat
  • Learn about the history and inhabitants of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge
  • Take in stunning ocean views from the Manzanillo viewpoint
  • Visit the Ara Project and support the conservation of the endangered great green macaw

Know before you go

4 hours
Recommended for
All ages
Small group

What you'll do

Embark on a journey to explore the unparalleled beauty of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge, a mesmerizing gem located in the far southeast of Costa Rica. This refuge boasts a diverse and captivating landscape, from pristine white-sand beaches and coral reefs to untouched rainforests teeming with an abundance of wildlife. Your day of adventure begins with transport from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to the refuge, where you'll meet your knowledgeable guide who will accompany you throughout your hike.

As you venture through the lush trails, your guide will share fascinating stories and insights about the refuge and the various species that call it home. Gandoca-Manzanillo is a crucial nesting ground for several species, including turtles, manatees, crocodiles, caimans, dolphins, and tarpons. Keep your eyes peeled for these incredible creatures as you traverse the breathtaking landscape. Towards the end of your hike, you'll arrive at the Manzanillo Viewpoint, a perfect spot to pause for a snack while soaking in the awe-inspiring ocean views.

Your adventure continues with a visit to the Ara Project, a remarkable local endeavor in Manzanillo dedicated to the protection, reproduction, and reinsertion of the great green macaw. This stunning bird species is critically endangered in Costa Rica and around the world. At the Ara Project, marvel at the vibrant plumage and captivating beauty of these birds as they fly freely among the surrounding trees, a testament to the incredible work being done to help preserve their species.

Your day of exploration comes to a close as you are transported back to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, filled with memories of an unforgettable experience. This excursion includes transport to and from the tour locations, the services of a professional guide, and entrance fees to the various sites. Immerse yourself in the diverse beauty of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Itineraries with Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge Hike

Family Fun on the Caribbean Side - 7 Days

With your kids in tow, get out and explore Costa Rica's capital city before making your way through the lush lowlands toward the Caribbean Coast in this adventure tour. From nature treks to river rafting to pristine beaches, this week-long itinerary is created for families who want to experience Costa Rica's splendid scenery, wildlife, and distinctly laid-back culture.

Costa Rica Wildlife Road Trip - 8 Days

This self-drive tour is ideal for families who love animals and exploring the outdoors. You'll spot plenty of the country's adorable mammals like sloths and monkeys, as well as rare species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and tropical fish. Along the way, stay at unique eco-lodges

Wildlife, Rainforest & Beach Adventure - 12 Days

Go from coast to coast as you encounter wildlife, swim under jungle waterfalls, and unwind on magnificent beaches on this well-rounded Costa Rican adventure. You'll start in the rugged Osa Peninsula on the remote southwestern coast, where you'll find untouched shores and a plethora of tropical animals. Then explore the rainforests of Monteverde and Arenal before embarking on a two-day whitewater rafting trip down the famous Pacuare River. End your unforgettable stay in the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo, where you'll snorkel, surf, and enjoy the pura vida.

Arenal & The Caribbean Coast - 15 Days

On this 15-day trip, you will experience the best of the country's tropical flora and fauna. From rainforest hikes to snorkeling in coral reefs.  You'll visit the famous Arenal volcano, see tons of exotic wildlife in Tortuguero National Park, and surf world-class waves in the laid-back beach town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Caribbean Coast Adventure Tour - 11 Days

On this 11-day trip, you will experience the best of the country's tropical flora and fauna. From rainforest hikes to snorkeling in coral reefs.  This itinerary is ideal for travelers going to Costa Rica during the "green season" (May - November), as the Caribbean coast stays relatively dry during these rainy months. It's also the best time to see turtles nesting on the beaches in Tortuguero National Park (July-October).

Family Adventure in Costa Rica: Wetlands, Volcanoes & Caribbean Beaches - 9 Days

This family-friendly tour introduces travelers to a diverse range of Costa Rican landscapes, from white sand Caribbean beaches to smoking volcanoes and quiet estuaries teeming with wildlife. Base yourself in three different locations—Tortuguero National Park, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, and Arenal—as you explore wildlife habitats, soak in hot springs, and hike around volcanoes. You'll also visit a jaguar rehabilitation center, observe the jungle after dark during a guided night hike, and trek to waterfalls for a refreshing dip.