The Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge begins on the beach side of the main road at the Rio Cocles to the Rio Ernesto in Punta Uva, where it then stretches well inland through Punta Uva, Manzanillo, Gandoca and up to the Sixaola River seperating Panama from Costa Rica. The refuge is a sanctuary for marine and wildlife and is one of the few parks along with Cahuita National Park that protect the surrounding Coral reef. It is a “mixed use” refuge, thus allowing individuals to live within it’s boundaries under a formal zoning and environmental regulatory plan. Land within the refuge but outside of the Maritime Zone can be titled and owned by private citizens. This is an area where most properties tend to be larger in size and a significant improvement in the quality and quantity of wildlife is well noted.

A trail weaves through the tropical humid forest and secluded beaches of the park towards the small village of Gandoca. The refuge is also home to the Gandoca Lagoon which feeds the only mangrove forest on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, making this area extremely important to the ecosystem and the well-being of the vulnerable manatees that breed and rely on the mangroves to survive, along with crocodiles, caymans, and the hundreds of species of birds. The mangroves also give shelter to a giant oyster-bed, lobsters, tarpon and also the dolphin.

Download Map of Zone 1 Costera 7.4 MB

Download Map of Refuge 1.1 MB

The Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge does permit private ownership of land and leases within the Maritime Zone. Buyers & Owners of such properties should exercise complete diligence and be fully informed of the current laws and regulations of the Refuge – as well as stay informed of the current political and legal issues affecting the permittng processes. Currently, Maritime Zone Permits of Use are awarded only for conservation, investigation or eco tourism. There is also a hold on all new building permits within the entire wildlife refuge.

The documents below are an attempt consolidate much of the existing information available in regards to the established rules of the Wildlife Refuge and active legal proceedings. If additional documents of public interest exist, please feel free to send them to us so we may post them here.

Plan de Manejo (Zoning and Management Plan) 2009 293 KB
Map of Entire Refuge 2009 1.1 MB
Map of Coastal Region of the Refuge 2009 7.4 MB
REPORTS and RECOMENDATIONS from la Contraloria General
DFOE-AE-0159_04811_2011.pdf 2011_06_24 2.9 MB
DFOE-AE-0157_04807_2011.pdf 2011_05_31 124 kB
DFOE-AE-0158_04810_2011.pdf 2011_05_31 124 kB
DFOE-AE-0164_04818_2011.pdf 2011_05_31 2.9 MB
DFOE-AE-IF-01_2010.pdf 2010_08_31 1.9 MB
DFOE-PGAA-59_2008.pdf 2008_12_10 392 kB
Decreto 35868-MINAET Reglamenta art 18 Ley Forestal.pdf 2010_07_06 208 kB
Decreto No 16614 Creation of the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Gandoca-Manzanillo 1983 link
Sentencia de Sala Consitucional: 01056 Expediente: 07-014812-0007-CO 2009_01_28 link
Proyecto para defender a pobladores de Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo y Gandoca 2011_07_29 link