Casa Tucán Tranquilo

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Rated 5.0 out of 5
5.0 out of 5 stars (based on 17 reviews)
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Immersive cultural experience with great food & people!

Rated 5.0 out of 5
December 26, 2023

This village and the home of the McCarthy’s gave us an experience that has us coming back every year at the minimum! We were so well taken care of that all of my stress was non-existent! I wake up with back pain daily, and I never experienced that once I step foot on their home. I was feeling relaxed, at peace, and was around good people who laughed and stayed up to chat and hangout–all great recipes for healing and fun.

I visited this beautiful home with my partner back in March 2021 and I’ve built so many deep connections from the people there. We stayed in the upper level of the main home where we had our private bathroom and balcony overlooking the lush forest!

We woke up to a delicious breakfast which included patacones (fried sliced green plantains), arepas (very unique compared to Mexican arepas), and fresh fruits from the area: papayas, mangoes, and bananas. Every meal was also home-cooked which we can tell was from their hearts because their entire family joined the feasts and we dined together heartily.

The family treated us like family. We would watch and play cornhole with the nephews or just relax on the hammocks. Their sister, Ileana would check in with us every now and then, and made sure we got our needs met.

For the nature experience, they took us to a movie-like scene in the lagoon where we swam and walked a few steps to the ocean where we also fished from the shore. The beautiful white sand and private beach is more than what we asked for!

We also experience the nearby city, Puerto Viejo, which was a 20 minutes drive and their family, Mario, was happy and willing to drive us there when we needed to. There, we could easily rent bikes and bike along the rode to other cities where we met more family and ate delicious meals. We will be returning yearly and when possible, more than once a year.

Bao

Amazing visit to Gandoca!

Rated 5.0 out of 5
October 28, 2023

If you to are ready to experience the culture of the Costa Rican Caribbean, this is for you. We came to Costa Rica to look for lodgings that provided a cultural learning experience that we could share with our high school students on future visits to Costa Rica and were thrilled with this resource. It is a working finca (small, self sustaining farm) located adjacent to the Gandoca-Manzinillo National wildlife refuge, and is only a short walk from the spectacular Playa Gandoca beach. Staying here you feel as if you are part of the family and get to participate in farm life activities. We toured the organic heirloom Cocoa orchard that is interspersed with dozens of exotic fruit and spice trees, including Star Fruit, Guava, Papaya, and Nutmeg. Later we helped roast the processed cocoa beans over an open fire while chatty Howler Monkeys and colorful Toucans filled the trees overhead. We ground the cocoa beans into delicious chocolate bars that we snacked on during our stay. We also learned to make traditional tamales and learned some of the secrets to Caribbean cuisine including how to make the famous “Rice and Beans.” For each meal our hosts walked with us into the forest to harvest the plants and fruits that are the backbone of Caribbean food. During our stay I had a cold and they provided teas of freshly harvested ginger, hibiscus and wild herbs. It was an immersive experience unlike anything you would experience at a traditional resort. The accommodations were newly constructed and were clean and comfortable. The facilities are adorned with beautiful art and wood carvings by local artists including family members. Several of the rooms incorporate beautifully finished wooden beams and pillars made from a massive tree that was felled in a wind storm and recycled. During our stay we genuinely felt included as a member of the family and left feeling like we now have many friends in Gandoca.

Lynn and Amy Orchard

Can’t Wait to be Back!

Rated 5.0 out of 5
October 16, 2023

Our time at Casa Tucán Tranquilo was spectacular. Wonderfully kind hosts and delicious meals, featuring fresh fruit straight from the backyard! Plenty to do in the immediate area, and Puerto Viejo is just a short drive away. Definitely recommend.

Cormac

Amazing Stay

Rated 5.0 out of 5
September 12, 2023

The house is in a beautiful location that’s immersed in nature. You’re close to waterfalls, beaches, and many fun activities! I loved the animals—monkeys, toucans, frogs—and the fresh fruit right on the property. It was a lovely and memorable experience.

Kendall Clark

Paradise Found

Rated 5.0 out of 5
September 12, 2023

The first thing that hit me was the sound. The sounds of birds, rustling of trees, and the sound of the sea swashing the shore. Across the black volcanic sand that crumbled gently between my toes, revealing the shimmering softness of the grains with each step. The only footprints I could find for as far as my eyes could see were mine, as if I’m the first person to ever set foot here. The nice warm breeze against my face, the tantalizing scent of fresh air, ocean, sweetness of fruits and flowers, all mixed into one. While the senses were immersed in this rather strange fantasy new place I’ve never been to before, yet I was caressed by a feeling that was familiar and comforting.

Could this be the paradise l’ve been longing for?

What makes Posada Casa Tucan Tranquilo exceptional is not just because it offers comfortable beds, hot running water, indoor plumbing, and all other convenient amenities of the modern world you think you can’t be without.

It’s the ‘je ne sais quoi’ feeling that fills your heart with joy, the learning that challenges your mind, the locally sourced food that feeds your soul, and the people that embraces your sense of belonging. Gandoca is a magical place that calls out to the wonderlust in us. This place and its people take you to a moment in time where life is simple. A place where time slows down, where you can think, reflect, let go to find inner peace, and discover something new.

Danilo and his staff, many of whom are his family, are incredible people. Truly some of the most trustworthy people I’ve ever met. In my almost 50 years of life, 136 countries, and counting, this place is amazing.

Per Chomdokmai

Amazing Trip!

Rated 5.0 out of 5
September 12, 2023

Thank you for the great stay at Casa Tucan Tranquilo. This family run villa was a great place to stay for us. From the accommodations, to the food, to the great conversation with the family. We were able to get a tour of the property with fresh fruit trees, and plenty of wildlife. We were able to see a sloth very close. Able to hear the monkeys howling. The beaches are practically untouched with black sand. The fishing was amazing and we were able to go out in the very deep ocean waters. The whole experience was very relaxing and much needed for the 2 of us. Can’t wait to visit your place again.

Michael H

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Organic Cacao Tour

Organic Cacao Farm and Food Forest Tour

Immerse yourself in the world of fine, organic chocolate creation amidst the lush tropical beauty of Costa Rica. The journey begins with an introduction to the history and origins of chocolate, tracing its roots back to ancient civilizations and the cacao plant’s significance to the region.Cocoa farms were the main crop in Gandoca until the 1980s and cacao was used in the community as a currency that was exchanged for products that could not be found in the community such as sugar, cooking oil, and salt. In this era, almost everything that was consumed by residents in the community was produced on their own farms. Unfortunately, the practice of cultivating one’s own food has been disappearing throughout the generations. Organic cocoa farms are integral farms, which means that cocoa is planted along with other products to increase diversity, which is a much more ecologically friendly method of farming. Touring organic cacao farms supports and motivates local families to continue working their land in an ecologically-friendly way and promotes sustainable food sources within the community. As you embark on this unique adventure, led by knowledgeable guides, you’ll learn about the traditional methods of harvesting and processing cacao beans, gaining insights into the meticulous steps that transform this raw ingredient into the delectable treat we all know and love. Participating in the harvesting process, you’ll gather ripe cacao pods and experience the joy of being closely connected to nature’s gifts. After the harvest, it’s time to delve into the heart of chocolate-making – fermenting, drying, and roasting the cacao beans. Under the guidance of skilled local farmers, you’ll engage in each step, immersing yourself in the aroma and texture as the cacao beans undergo their magical transformation. The highlight of the tour comes with the hands-on chocolate-making workshop. After roasting the cacao beans over an open fire, you’ll grind them into a smooth paste using traditional grinding tools, releasing the distinct chocolate aroma into the air. This paste becomes the foundation for creating various chocolate products, and you’ll have the chance to mold your bars, adding a personal touch to each delectable treat. The tour concludes with a tasting session, savoring the fruits of your labor and experiencing the rich flavors and textures of your handcrafted chocolates.
Snorkel Tour

Snorkeling in Punta Mona Reef

Snorkeling in Punta Mona Reef is an extraordinary experience that promises a day filled with adventure. Nestled along Costa Rica’s stunning Caribbean coast, this picturesque reef teems with an abundance of marine life and dazzling coral formations. Visitors are greeted with crystal-clear turquoise waters that invite them to immerse themselves in nature’s aquatic playground. Accompanied by experienced guides, snorkelers of all levels can delve into the depths, discovering a mesmerizing array of tropical fish, colorful corals, and other captivating marine species. We will provide all of the equipment, experienced guides during the duration of the tour as well as light refreshments. This is a six-hour tour that includes a hike to Punta Mona and a boat tour from Punta Mona back to Gandoca.

For those seeking an unforgettable adventure, a snorkeling day tour in Punta Mona Reef is a must. It offers an extraordinary opportunity to connect with nature, appreciate its wonders, and leave with a profound sense of admiration and responsibility for the preservation of our oceans. So, if you’re planning your next escapade, don’t miss the chance to explore the enchanting Punta Mona Reef – a true paradise beneath the waves.

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Gandoca Lagoon Tour

Glide over the tranquil waters of the Gandoca Lagoon by boat as you are surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of the tropical mangrove forest!

During this tour, we will explore one of the most important wetlands in the Southern Caribbean zone of Costa Rica, which has the largest and least contaminated mangrove forest in the country. An expert local guide will lead you on a journey through the ecosystem, the animal and plant life that it supports, the different types of mangroves, and human impacts on mangrove health. After exploring the mangroves, we will go to the mouth of the lagoon where it meets the sea, enjoy light refreshments and take a swim in the refreshing waters of the lagoon.

Gandoca Rainforest Hike

Gandoca Rainforest Hike

During this hike in the lush secondary forest of the community of Gandoca, we will observe a variety of wildlife including poison dart frogs, monkeys, birds and snakes. This hike typically takes approximately 4 hours, though it depends on the group speed. We will walk slowly to maximize the amount of flora and fauna we are able to observe. The landscape is flat forested and, depending on whether it rains or not before the hike, the trail can be muddy. The total distance of the hike is approximately 4.8 kilometers total, 3 miles.
Gandoca_Manzanillo Hike

Hike from Gandoca to Manzanillo through the wildlife refuge

Embrace the wilderness with a beach and mountain hike, traversing through dense rainforests, encountering exotic flora and fauna, and connecting with the raw beauty of the landscape. The panoramic views from these remote, untouched beaches are an awe-inspiring example of nature’s grandeur. This hike is a full-day adventure which takes around 6-7 hours, depending on the physical condition of the group. The hike is on soft-surface trails and is medium intensity due to the distance. If the group prefers a shorter hike, we can plan half of the route to reduce the distance.

There are a variety of pristine beaches along the hike as well as primary forest ecosystems, which we will explore during the tour as the educational component. We will stop for a snack and go swimming at one of the beaches. The landscape is hilly, forested and, depending on whether it rains or not before the hike, the trail can be muddy. The hike is approximately 15 kilometers total (9.3 miles). After the hike, we will dine at one of the best local restaurants in the area and then head back to Gandoca village by boat, looking for dolphins and other animals along the way. If the weather is not favorable, we will return to Gandoca by shuttle.

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Braulio Vanegas Rojas

Adventure Coordinator

Braulio is a bilingual tour guide certified by The Costa Rican Tourism Board and is pursuing an English teaching degree at the Universidad Estatal a Distanica. He is from and lives in the community of Gandoca and stands out for being one of the leaders in promoting the conservation of natural resources in the area. He has more than 10 years of experience working on sea turtle conservation projects and tourism. Braulio is an independent tour guide and 3 years ago he created his own tour packages that he offers in the Caribbean region of Costa Rica. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge, culture and practicing traditional fishing.
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Andrey Castillo McCarthy

Co-Founder & Program Manager

Andrey is a true trilingual jack of many trades. He holds degrees and certificates in Tourism (INA & ICT), ELE – Teaching Spanish as a Second Language (TEC), German C1 (University of Essen) and Woodworking (Blinn College). Growing up in Gandoca, a small town on the Southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, it was here that Andrey first came in contact with sea turtles. He started volunteering with the local sea turtle conservation project while still in high school and later started working as a research assistant for different projects. Over the years, Andrey has worked in various capacities with sea turtles and community development projects with students, volunteers and tourists in Costa Rica, Panama, and the USA (Texas) and has amassed over twenty years of experience this way. In 2014, he co-founded the non-profit organization COASTS (Costa Rican Alliance for Sea Turtle Conservation & Science), dedicated to researching and conserving sea turtles along Costa Rican coasts.
danilo

Danilo McCarthy

Co-Founder & Director

Danilo was born and raised in the community of Gandoca, Costa Rica. He is the first generation to graduate from high school and college. He is certified as a bilingual general tour guide, has a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Costa Rica, and is pursuing a master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Minnesota. Danilo has extensive experience leading groups of national and international high school and university students and tourists in conservation and community development projects in various rural communities in Costa Rica and Panama. Danilo loves enjoying nature, supporting young people to achieve their academic and personal goals, and learning about other cultures and traditions.