Manzanillo, Costa Rica
Beach scenery north of Manzanillo
The area north of Manzanillo is one of the last long uninterrupted stretches of pristine beach wilderness on the Nicoya Peninsula.
Birds breed in the thickets by the river estuaries and sea turtles come to lay their eggs in the sand. The area is an important nesting site for the endangered leatherback seaturtles and has therefore been converted into the Wildlife Reserve Caletas Ario, which stretches north until Punta Coyote.
The majestic Rio Bongo with heaps of driftwood
A day-long hiking tour takes you to the estuary of the Rio Bongo, 7 km from Manzanillo.
Before leaving Manzanillo pack enough water, take sun protection, and check on the tides because you have to ford two rivers.
Shortly after Manzanillo is the Rio Manzanillo and 2 km further is another, smaller river to cross.
On your hike along the coast you won't meet many people; instead, you find seclusion on lonely beaches littered with driftwood and shells.
The landspit near the Bongo estuary
The Rio Bongo is one of the biggest rivers on the Nicoya Peninsula and forms the border between the provinces of Guanacaste and Puntarenas.
Before you arrive at the river mouth you wander along an extended spit of land which the river has formed over the years. Here you have the pounding ocean on the one side, while on the other side are the serene and calm waters of the majestic river.
You can cross the Rio Bongo at low tide by wading through waist-high water at the outer edge of the river. Watch out for crocodiles that live in the river.
From the estuary you can continue for another 8 km along the pristine beach of Playa Caletas until you reach Playa Coyote.