The Costa Rica Connection
PLEASE VISIT THE FAQ PAGE (including weather tips)
Come visit Manzanillo and stay in
either of our 2 Beachfront houses.
There are only 3 Beachfront homes for rent in all of Manzanillo!
Car-free setting, inside wildlife refuge
50 meters from the waters edge & gentle swimming areas
Full time manager on-site for booking tours and assistance
In-house cooking option for authentic Caribbean flavors
is full of tropical experiences from beach to mountain. On the Caribbean side of
is a little village at the end of the road called Manzanillo, located in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife and Marine Refuge. It's a small traditional
town, about 4 hours by car or bus from the capital, offering prime fishing and ocean adventures as well as jungle
wildlife. This area is relatively uncrowded and much more laid back as compared to the Pacific side of Costa Rica. The culture is also
distinctly different, being Afro-Caribbean. For weather info visit
TIDE CHART WEATHER REPORT
A couple from Bozeman, Montana, Jim and Ann DiBerardinis, has lived in the area on and off since 1993 and created sustainable local tourism projects of sportfishing and dolphin studies. Manzanillo Tarponville Fishing Lodge has trained and employed the local fishermen as catch and release fly fishing guides for tarpon, and lure-fishing for wahoo and other saltwater species, mostly caught on 12 weight fly rods. The Talamanca Dolphin Foundation (TDF) was born out of sheer keen observation by Ann, her colleague Shawn Larkin, and several other local people. They discovered a unique intermingling of species and created a non-profit foundation to study, preserve and protect the three species of wild dolphins inhabiting the waters near Manzanillo. Ann and TDF have trained local boat captains to be responsible Dolphin Watching Guides, adding to their local economy. If you are interested, our resident manager can share with you the fascinating history of the Foundation, and also arrange for other excellent naturalist experiences and tours.
The place to stay during all this tropical adventuring
is Jim and Ann's two beach houses. There are only three houses in all of
Manzanillo that are truly on the water, and in addition to that they are located
inside the wildlife refuge away from most cars yet you are only
minutes by foot to town. Fifty meters from the front door you will find
safe swimming for kids and adults in the natural tide pools formed by the reef
(see pictures). There are also very few houses able to accommodate larger
We have a full-time manager on site to help you enjoy your stay: Dolfi (read reviews) lives in his own house behind the two main houses, and is great at arranging tours and activities for you, answering questions about the area, and will help you with shopping for food, gifts, etc. He will also arrange for a local cook that will shop and prepare some or all of your meals so you will experience true Caribbean cuisine at a reasonable price. Meals and daily cleaning are optional and can be arranged in advance (meal preparation runs $25/day depending on number of guests, and optional daily cleaning is $20/day).
The rustic, unique Coral Reef House is literally built on a 30-foot high ancient coral outcrop in the shady forest along the beach - this gives you great views of the ocean and coral reef, and puts you at eye level with the jungle life of monkeys, sloths, toucans, parrots, and a variety of fascinating birds and butterflies. The Coral Reef House has two king size bedrooms which can sleep 3 people each (one king, plus a twin bed), and two bedrooms each with a double bed, comfortably sleeping 8 people. The house has 2 full bathrooms. During Dec-May there is a one week minimum for advance reservations. To see more photos of both the Coral Reef House and the surrounding area, click here. Scroll down to see pricing and availability info.
The other option is the rustic 4-bedroom Dolphin Lodge next door. The Lodge has 3 king-size rooms with private baths, plus one more bedroom with a double bed. Rooms all have locking doors and open to the outside. Each king-size room can either be configured as three single beds, or a king bed and a single bed. The 4th bedroom has a double size bed plus a twin size bed. In total, the Lodge can sleep up to 11 people. In all there are 4 full bathrooms, full kitchen, covered patio dining area, and deck space. Click on the link below the rate chart to see the web page with more photos of the Lodge, complete with recent guest reviews. During Dec-May there is a one week minimum for advance reservations. Meals and daily cleaning are optional and can be arranged in advance as with the Coral Reef House. To see more photos of both the Lodge and the surrounding area, click here.
Here is an April 2010 article in the New York Times about the Manzanillo area
Thank you again for making our stay at the Coral Reef House such a pleasant one. It was such a pleasure to meet you and we appreciate all of your help so very much! Our stay at the Costa Verde Inn was very nice on Sunday night and we enjoyed the gondola canopy tour. Please send our thanks again to Wilson too! We would have starved without him!!!
If you are ever in Alabama, please make contact with us! We'd love to return your hospitality. We sure hope to return to your beautiful country again! Best wishes.
Roben & Steve
Just wanted to let you know that my family and I had a great time in Costa Rica. What an experience staying "away from it all". We loved it. Dolfi was great and so was Tino. Thanks for recommending him as a guide. Your Web site was helpful in so many ways. Thanks for everything. Kerry July 2008
"Just wanted to drop you a note telling you what a wonderful time we had at the Coral Reef House! It was one of our most memorable vacations. The setting and the house is beautiful. Everything was perfect and Dolfi, as you must know, is the best. He set us up with everything we asked for, without hesitation. He is truly the Mayor of Manzanillo. Big thank you's go to Patsy, Carlos, and Omar as well. These people are truly the salt of the earth. I could go on and on, but I'm sure you have heard it all before. We cannot wait to go back." John December 2005
"Hello Paul, We had a fantastic time at the Dolphin House! It rained 2 days straight when we got there, but then cleared and was gorgeous. The river crossing was up to our waists, adding to the adventure. Tino was a fantastic rainforest guide, very knowledgeable and speaks great English. Thanks for the recommendation..." Marc November 2004
"Just wanted to drop you a line and let
you know that we had a great week at the Dolphin Lodge. Dolfi was very helpful and everyone had a great time. Things looked a little
rocky at first, since the first day and a half was almost straight rain,
but we ran into an older gent on the beach who gave us some very sage
advice. "You must be pationable, man, pationable, and that way you will
get the sweet, sweet juice." Of course, after a declaration like that,
the next day dawned bright and sunny, and the good weather saw us through
the rest of the week. We were able to squeeze in a nature hike (led by
Tino), an ATV ride, and a lot of swimming." Ken December 2006
Coral Reef House
Rustic beach house on Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast. Built on a
30-foot high coral rock, the simple Coral Reef House with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full
kitchen and beautiful deck overlooking the forest and ocean, and great reef
swimming and snorkeling just a coconut-throw away. Now
with wireless internet!
4 Bedroom 2 Bath $171-221/n $1200-1400/wk summer/winter
Prices based on 6 person capacity. Addt'l occupants are $20/night.
4-night minimum year round, 7 night minimum Christmas & New Year holidays
Currently Booked for:
15-May 17, June 28-July 2
RATES for Coral Reef House or Dolphin Lodge
Winter Rates: Dec-May
# of nights
Summer Rates: June-Nov
# of nights
Right next door, The 4-bedroom Dolphin Lodge has 3
bedrooms with a total of 4 king beds and 3 single beds, one bedroom with a
double bed and twin size bed, 3.5 bathrooms, full kitchen, decks, etc. Perfect for larger groups
who want to be immersed in the jungle, simple, rustic lodge-style house.
Now with wireless internet!
4 Bedrooms, 3.5 Bath $171-221/n $1200-1400/wk summer/winter
Prices based on 6 person capacity. Addt'l occupants are $20/night.
4-night minimum year round, 7 night minimum Christmas & New Year holidays
Currently Booked for: open for xmas due to cancellation March 21-May 17 July 4-9 Dec 22-Jan 4
(note: dates in italics are tentatively booked, for example 'Jan 1-7' means leaving Jan 7)
Just letting you know we had a fantastic holiday in Costa Rica. Dolphin Lodge was perfect for our family and Dolphi was brilliant in organizing things for us.
Thank you for recommending the Costa Verde and Leo's shuttle service. Both were excellent. Leo was very reliable in having us picked up and taken to various parts of the country.
Kids love the protected tide pools directly out front of the houses, and of course the occasional rope swings!
houses are reached by walking or biking 200 meters beyond the end of the road,
along the ocean on a sand beach road. You may drive in to unload your luggage
and supplies, but regulations prohibit cars to be left inside the refuge after
your luggage has been delivered (although the locals tend to disregard this
rule). You can park your rental car in a nearby
private, gated yard. There is also a small creek to cross which during dry
conditions can be anywhere from 0-8" deep depending on the tide, and if there
has been recent rainfall it can be deeper, adding an adventurous aspect to your
If you see wading the creek, a short walk along the beach, and the rustic nature of the setting as an asset, then our two lodges are for you. But if you are looking for a resort setting with daily services then there are many fine resort hotels in Costa Rica for you. After a hard rain storm and on rare occasions, you might have to take a boat across the creek. Usually it is not more than shin deep, and you can walk to town in 10 min. Since the houses are literally located under the forest canopy facing the beach with little other development, you hear the never-ending sounds of nature, the forest and animals.
Most of the bugs you will encounter are a few mosquitoes and many harmless but interesting insects and spiders. At dusk and dawn the sand flies come out and you should protect yourself with repellent and long pants and sleeves if you plan to walk on the beach after dark. Being in a wildlife preserve is like being in a national park. For the preservation of the wildlife and your own personal safety, refrain from touching flora, fauna, and insects. As long as you watch where you step and donít reach out to touch everything youíll most likely be fine. Youíll learn about all the creatures of the forest if you take a jungle tour with one of the highly-trained local guides, and then youíll feel more comfortable. People hike on the local trails most everyday without incident. For people that have medical conditions, allergies or other aversions to plants and insects, consult your doctor or local health department for health information.
Our guests that seem to get the most pleasure out of their experiences, are people who spend time in the outdoors, appreciate raw nature at its best and those that are looking for a unique adventurous experience. We have plenty of demand to rent the houses, therefore we try hard to match our guest with best situation for them. When we're successful at that then everyone is extremely satisfied, as you can see from the reviews. To meet that goal, the owner talks to each inquiring party to make sure they understand as much as possible about the houses. If you would like Jim to call you, just email him at email@example.com.
In addition, local certified naturalist guides can provide fascinating jungle tours from 2-4 hours, an old time cultural tour, sea kayaking in both fresh and saltwater, and dolphin watching (complete list below with estimated prices). The best guides for the jungle trip are organized through the MANTguides, which is a non-profit, community based organization. The guides all are native and speak both English and Spanish, and are very well organized and trained, carry field guide books and have life-long knowledge of the animals, birds, bugs, reptiles, and fruits along this walk. It's nothing like walking around out there on your own! You'll learn more than you could ever remember. To set up land tours or dolphin tours, contact TDF, MANTguides, stop in at their offices in Manzanillo, or ask our manager/caretaker to hlpe you set up a trip. Manzanillo is a small village at the end of the road so everything is easy to find and people are very friendly.
Sloths are commonly seen near our houses
Traveling to Manzanillo takes 4-5 hours from the airport near San Jose Airport (code SJO) where most flights land. Many people rent a car and we recommend Mapache Rental Car, http://www.mapache.com/. Your contact person there is Manuel Torres, and be sure to indicate that you are staying at the Coral Reef House or Dolphin Lodge in Manzanillo. Rental cars cost between $300-500/week with unlimited mileage after you add on the mandatory insurance. If you opt for not renting a car, bikes work great locally along the coast as it is quite flat and within 3 km you can access quite a lot of beaches. Bikes and scooters are for rent in Puerto Viejo and sometimes right in Manzanillo.
If you are the adventurer type, get a good guide book like The New Key to Costa Rica, Moon Travel, or Lonely Planet.
You can also arrange a van to shuttle you (email Leo at the Costa Verde B&B in San Jose, which is where we recommend staying in the capital on either end of your trip. See next paragraph).
If you need to stay in San Jose we highly recommend the Costa Verde B&B, located in Escazu 20 minutes from the airport and just 5 minutes west of downtown San Jose. They do airport pickups and also shuttling around the country in a fully certified 12 passenger van. Airport pickups are $25 for up to 4 people and just $30 for up to 8 people. We make dozens of reservations at the B&B every year for our guests if they arrive in San Jose after 2 pm or depart earlier than noon, and everyone loves the B&B. Leo is great at organizing other locations to visit during your trip and along the way to Manzanillo, and can arrange day trips with their van out of San Jose to cloud forests, waterfalls, canopy tours, Volcano Arenal, hot springs, etc. The van, as of Feb 2012, is $450 round trip to Manzanillo with 5 people or less, $10/person for up to 9 people. One way trips are half price of round trip. For an extra fee you can take the long way to the coast and see some sites along the way to round out your trip. Since you really don't need a car once you get to Manzanillo this is a great way to not get lost or deal with driving and maps. Email Leo for more information and to arrange shuttles.
Another option for getting to Manzanillo is the Interbus system, which is comfortable and works well for small groups. They run 10 passenger vans all over the country every day, so you arrange your shuttle ahead of time. Their web site for San Jose to Manzanillo is: http://www.interbusonline.com. You probably won't get the personal service of Leo's van and driver, but it may be cheaper.
The surfing on the Caribbean coast is best near Puerto Viejo, which is a half hour before you reach the Coral Reef House, and there are also waves right near Manzanillo,. There are other spots between the 2 places, but the legendary area is the 6-foot wave called La Salsa Brava, Dec-April. Puerto Viejo is where you want to stay if you're looking to stay up late and dance in the bars. It's a young town with lots of cheap places to stay, but you have to watch your stuff, day and night. Manzanillo is secluded and quiet like most end-of-the-road towns, and relatively safe especially if you are staying in the Coral Reef House or the Dolphin Lodge which are slightly beyond the end of the road and very private.
Here is a map link to the area. TIDE CHART WEATHER REPORT
Fruit is NOT hard to find!
PLEASE VISIT THE FAQ PAGE
Instructions to our guests:
The Coral Reef House and The Dolphin Lodge have joined with the Manzanillo community in efforts to conserve and preserve this rich environment.
If you have any ideas on how we can make this beautiful place greener we would appreciate your input.
Skip the worrying about weather, sign up for affordable travel insurance
For more great vacation rentals all over the world - See Vacation Rentals by Owner
Coral Reef House / Dolphin Lodge