Costa Rica Caribbean Coast – Manzanillo

Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast was my solo travel destination for relaxation and rejuvenation in the tiny village of Manzanillo in August 2012. Running my bookkeeping business and taking an Arabic language class at the local community college had worn me out. Did you know Arabic is rated as one of the most difficult languages to learn? Working plus five hours of evening Arabic classes and 10 – 15 hours of homework each week for 12 weeks had inspired my desire to getaway.

 

Beautiful beaches along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica

Manzanillo Costa Rica – gorgeous beaches!

 

My plan was to do nothing. I wanted to relax and take long walks along the beach and do some snorkeling. If I couldn’t walk or swim to it – I wasn’t going to see it. I wanted to enjoy leisurely meals, read all afternoon long and simply enjoy observing my surroundings.

 

Red hibiscus flower - a magnet for hummingbirds in Costa Rica

Red hibiscus flower – a magnet for hummingbirds

 

I started my research on the internet and checked out several Costa Rica travel guides from the library. I had difficulty deciding where I wanted to go. The guide books were divided into sections covering each region and I became enamored with each one.

 

Sea shells along the beach of Manzanillo - Costa Rica Caribbean coast with rainforest, howler monkeys, exotic birds, snorkeling

Sea shells along the beach of Manzanillo – Costa Rica Caribbean coast

 

Gradually I concluded the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica would be my destination because it was still rainy season on the Pacific coast. Dry season on the Pacific coast runs from December to April and May through November is the Green Season or rainy season. The Caribbean coast doesn’t have rainy and dry seasons but the driest months are September and October. Visiting in the latter half of August I reckoned I would have decent weather for my vacation in Costa Rica.

 

Statue at Cabinas YaMann in Manzanillo Costa Rica - Caribbean coast vacation relaxation

Statue at Cabinas Ya Mann in Manzanillo Costa Rica

 

Manzanillo is a small town which marks the end of the coastal road on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. The nearest town is Puerto Viejo 17 kilometers to the north, rain forest jungle to the west, Caribbean Sea to the east, and jungle right up to the beach to the south. There is snorkeling right off the coast of Manzanillo and the jungle stretches right up to the beach in some places.

 

Rainforest jungle right up to the beach - Manzanillo Costa Rica - Caribbean coast paradise

Rainforest jungle right up to the beach – Manzanillo Costa Rica

 

End of the road sleepy fishing village with great snorkeling off the coast next to the jungle? Perfect!

 

Orange frogs - tropical rainforest of Costa Rica has many amphibians

Orange frogs were my neighbors in Manzanillo Costa Rica

 

Manzanillo seemed like the ideal place to enjoy some chill out time.

 

Flora and fauna of Costa Rica is diverse and abundant

Costa Rica is known for its abundant flora and fauna

 

I searched for accommodation online and I found great reviews on TripAdvisor for Cabinas Ya Mann. I looked at their website and they listed only two bungalows so I sent an email to inquire about renting one of them and luckily it was available.

I was offered a discounted rate because they were not very busy at that time. Total cost for my 6 nights in Manzanillo was $240 (regular $360) for a gorgeous bungalow near the beach, outdoor kitchen, laundry service, and delicious morning coffee provided too!

Click here to find the latest hotel pricing in Manzanillo Costa Rica

 

Sign for Cabinas YaMann in Manzanillo Costa Rica

Cabinas Ya Mann sign – my home away from home in Manzanillo Costa Rica

 

In Costa Rica it is illegal to build within 50 meters (164 feet) of the beach. The first 50 meters from the sea is considered public property. What a beautiful concept!

 

Spider lily and exotic flowers bloom year round in Manzanillo Costa Rica

Spider lily flowers are common in Manzanillo

 

I used United Airlines frequent flyer points for my trip to Costa Rica. I had to fly out of Houston instead of Austin as there was not availability from Austin when I wanted to go. I booked one night at Hostelling International USA’s Morty Rich Hostel – a historic mansion located in a beautiful neighborhood in central Houston with free parking and Wi-Fi. I also booked 2 nights in San José Costa Rica for my arrival and departure days.

 

Grey-necked wood rail visited me daily in Manzanillo - Costa Rica Caribbean coastal town

Grey-necked wood rail visited me daily in Manzanillo

 

Total cost of my trip to Manzanillo Costa Rica:

  • Airfare from Houston: $42.41 plus 52,000 United Airlines frequent flyer miles
  • 1 night at Morty Rich Hostel in Houston: $29.00
  • 2 nights at Hotel La Cuesta in San José Costa Rica $57.00
  • Parking at Houston airport $74.00
  • 6 nights at Cabinas YaMann in Manzanillo $240.00 (regular $360)
  • Bus from San José – Manzanillo – San José and taxi to/from San Jose airport $111.00
  • Fuel for drive to/from Houston $30
  • Food $433.00
  • Shopping $179 (hoodie, 2x wooden bowls, earrings, hand painted bookmarks, hat)

Total cost $1,165.41

 

Yellow hibiscus flowers - Caribbean coast tropical rainforest climate

Yellow hibiscus and other exotic flowers are common in Costa Rica

Highlights of my trip to Manzanillo Costa Rica – Caribbean Coast

Snorkeling off the coast with brightly colored exotic fish including lots of parrot fish. One morning I saw an amazing manta ray – so elegant and frightening all at once! I had never seen a manta ray and this one was just a few feet away from me. I was surprised to see a manta ray so close to the shoreline but it actually makes sense given their shape. The manta ray swam out to sea and it swam much to fast for me to follow along.

 

Palm tree on the beach of Manzanillo Costa Rica - tropical paradise on the Caribbean coast near Panama

Palm tree along the beach of Manzanillo – near my snorkeling spot

 

Awakening each morning to the howler monkeys and chorus of tropical birds at 5 am.

 

Manzanillo Costa Rica early morning walk along the beach and rain forest, watching the sunrise, listening to howler monkeys greet the new day

Early morning beach walk along the rain forest in Costa Rica

 

My morning barefoot walks along the beach for 2 hours enjoying the sunrise over the Caribbean Sea, the beauty of the coastline and the jungle.

 

Blue crabs are common in the Caribbean coastal village Manzanillo Costa Rica

Blue crabs lived right outside my bungalow at Cabinas YaMann

 

An amazing array of flora and fauna! From the toucans flying overhead, orange tanagers, grey-necked wood rails wandering the grounds, hummingbirds zipping past me every morning to rescue nectar from the hibiscus flowers, blue morpho butterflies, orange frogs, woodpeckers, blue crabs, an army of ants on a mission, Jesus lizards (they can walk on water y) and iguanas – each day I saw something new and amazing in the village of Manzanillo.

 

Basilisk lizard commonly known as the Jesus lizard due to ability to run across water

Basilisk lizard commonly known as the Jesus lizard for their ability to run across water

 

I enjoyed evening walks along the beach to watch the sunsets.

Hanging out with other travelers and hearing their stories.

I met Jorge and Yolanda, visiting from San José, on one of my early morning walks. They visited Manzanillo often and showed me some of the interesting flowers and plants along our jungle walk.

 

Costa Rica Caribbean Coast - Manzanillo shoreline along Caribbean Sea - tropical paradise pura vida

Shoreline of Manzanillo Costa Rica

 

I met Curinne and Simon, visiting from France and touring around Costa Rica for 6 weeks, while I was snorkeling. They paid local guide Sergio to show them some of the coral and better snorkeling spots. Sergio invited me to join them instead of swimming on my own so I gladly accepted the invitation.

The water was still very shallow even though we swam a long way out from the coast – something I wouldn’t have done on my own. We saw some interesting coral but the more interesting fish were along the reef closer to the shoreline.

 

Sunset along the beach of Manzanillo Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast

Sunset along the beach of Manzanillo Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast

 

The night the electricity went out and there was total darkness bringing a magnificent view of the stars. I couldn’t stop staring – craning my neck to experience the thousands of stars above. I would love to see that view every night!

Looking for someplace to relax and get rejuvenated? I suggest you take a trip to Manzanillo on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica!

 


How to get to Manzanillo from San Jose, Costa Rica:

By Car: Take Hwy 32 to Puerto Limon then Hwy 36 towards Puerto Viejo until the road ends. Total driving time is around 4 hours.
By Shuttle: Interbus runs a shuttle service direct from San Jose. This is the most convenient way to get there if you are not driving. Check for updated prices on their website.
By Bus: The public bus leaves from the Gran Terminal Caribe in San Jose 4x daily to Puerto Viejo but only one continues direct all the way to Manzanillo. You can check prices and schedules on this page. (Another great resource to search bus schedules all over Costa Rica is here.)


 

About the Author

Susan Moore's first solo travel experience was traveling around SE Asia for 7 months in 1993. It was life changing and extraordinary. Currently Susan is living a nomadic life, working and roadtripping around the USA and Canada. You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter

9 Comments

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  1. Vidhya Rao says:

    Susan, that is an awesome blog with details on even the cost of the trip…Love all the unique finds blue crab, orange frog, spider lily. My fav is the sea shells pic….so colorful …You have an interesting life :)

  2. Roger Green says:

    Those COASTAL shots are so CALMING.
    ROG

  3. Photo Cache says:

    Oh I love Costa Rica, wanna go back. In 2011, we signed up for Friendly Planet’s Pura Vida package tour (http://www.friendlyplanet.com/costa-rica-pura-vida.html#tab2). We paid $1299 at that time. We throughly enjoyed the sights, were impressed by the service and wowed by the accommodation. Nothing but praises from us.

  4. ellen b says:

    Beautiful relaxing place to visit! Glad you met some people along the way that added to your experience.

  5. Leslie says:

    Wow! It looks as beautiful as I’ve heard! And what an amazing price!

    Leslie

  6. Delightful writing and pictures, I felt as if I was walking along the beach with you.
    I liked the pretty bird and the frog.
    My favourite holidays have always been in Turkey, made 12 visits over the years.
    I wish I could go again but my health issues won’t allow, never mind I still have my memories.
    best wishes,

    Di.x

  7. SamuraiFrog says:

    Great pictures! What I wouldn’t give to be on a beach right now… I especially love the shot of the palm tree over the water. Looks like a calm place.

    SamuraiFrog

  8. Lovely presentation of your adventure…sounds like you came back relaxed♪

  9. magiceye says:

    Thank you for the wonderful virtual tour!! Would love to visit!!

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