This is one of the most beautiful areas of the country. The refuge's coast consists of several emerged coral reef points with gently sloping white sand beaches and few waves due to the shallowness on the coast, which is bordered by countless coconut palms and coral reefs extending as much as 200 metres into the sea.
The coral reefs off Uva, Manzanillo and Mona Points basically consist of corals of the genera Diploria, Siderastrea, Agaricia, Acropora and Porites. Lobsters (Panulirus argus), Venus sea fans (gorgona ventalina) and sea cucumbers (Holothuria sp.) are common there. One quite abundant plant throughout the area is the turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum), which forms extensive shallow meadows.
A large part of the refuge, which is flat or made up of small hills, is covered in forests while the rest is carpeted in grassland and fields. In those forests the dominant species is the cativo (Prioria copaifera) and in the undergrowth and the open areas there are lots of heliconias (Heliconia spp.).
South of Manzanillo and Mona Points there is a 400 ha swamp basically made up of holillo palm (Raphia taedigera) and the sajo (Campnosperma panamensis). The beach vegetation basically consists of coconut palms (cocos nucifera) and sea grapes (Coccoloba uvifera).
Southeast of the refuge is the Gandoca estuary Mainly consisting of red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). In this place, there is a bank of large oysters (Crassostrea rhizophorae), the tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) lays its eggs and it is possible to see threatened West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus).
The refuge, which has varied birdlife, protects various animal species that are threatened with extinction in Costa Rica, such as Baird's tapir (Tapirus bairdii) and the crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). This area was recently included on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
Gandoca - Manzanillo is at the southeast end of the country, very close to the border with Panama. The offices are in Gandoca 71 km from Limón via Cahuita - Puerto Viejo. The Bobócara path leads to the forest and to the river Hitoy. There are bus services operating between the towns of San José - Limón and Limón - Gandoca. As far as accommodation and other facilities are concerned, visitors can find boarding houses, restaurants and grocery stores in Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo.