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“An Experience in the Costa Rica Jungle that I'll never forget!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Tarponville

Tarponville
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Tarpon, Manzanillo, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
British Columbia, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“An Experience in the Costa Rica Jungle that I'll never forget!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2010

My husband is an avid fisherman and after we decided that we wanted to go to Costa Rica on our next vacation, he set about to find a spot where he could fish for tarpon...part of his "Bucket List". We have done the "all inclusive resort thing" and the "overpriced hotel on the beach thing" and had grown tired of vacations involving only lounging around the pool, eating, drinking and going home an inevitable 10 lbs heavier (and lazier). We wanted an adventure! Tarponville did not disappoint! I admit when the shuttle bus pulled up to "the end of the road" in Manzanillo and we were greeted by a gentleman who gathered up our 2 backpacks and encouraged us to roll up our pant legs and wade across the river in front of us...I feared we may have gone to far. But what the heck, I wanted an adventure, didn't I? After getting to the other side of the river, we tramped down a cleared path, beautiful palm trees and ocean beach on our left with jungle on our right. Our destination was a rustic lodge, the main floor being an open air dining room with a tiny simple kitchen. Our room was upstairs, spacious and simple with a private bathroom and a great balcony facing the beach. The large ceiling fans and the screened windows provided our air-conditioning. (the weather is hot and humid there - but it does cool down at night). Mosquito nets on the beds were provided...but we didn't use them.

The staff at this lodge are AMAZING! 2 local ladies ("Chino" pronounced Cheena and "Mommie") cooked the most amazing authentic Caribbean meals during out stay. From breakfast to supper, each meal was a new treat to experience. From fresh red snapper off the boat that morning to tender steak to rice'n'beans to freshly cut fruit to homemade donuts...these women can cook! I'll admit my bathing suit got a tad tighter during the week!

I was alone during the day while my husband was fishing with a guide (and his first time tarpon fishing was a raging success by the way) and Dolfi, the lodge manager, was kind enough to entertain me with some once in a lifetime experiences. He (and his dog) took me hiking through the jungle, pointing out the different species of trees as well as local wildlife including two-toed sloths, three toed sloths, red (poisonous) frogs, howler monkeys, toucans, and even a mother caimon and her young. He also accompanied me on a bus ride to Puerto Vieijo as I don't speak Spanish and wanted to see what that community was like (great shopping for souvenirs and great restaurants). I also spent time snorkeling in the ocean in front of our lodge...the reefs of that area were amazing for seeing fish! The water was pleasantly warm, not unlike bathwater. With all these activities...my favorite was just to sit and relax on our balcony in one of the old wooden rocking chairs provided, writing in my journal or reading while Chino and Mommie chattered back and forth (in Creole English) to each other below me in the kitchen. Everyone was so friendly, including the owner, Jim and his wife Anne. They made me feel right at home in their jungle. Anne and Dolfi are very involved in the protection of the Dolphins in the area and also educating locals and tourists about them. Fascinating stuff if you get the chance to chat with them about their experiences!

In the evenings, we drank rum&cokes and Imperial Beer downstairs in the open air dining room and chatted with Dolfi (and if we were lucky, his son Antonio, joined us). I loved to listen to Dolfi's stories of growing up in Manzanillo and the history of the lodge.

We were so sad when our vacation at Tarponville was up....my husband was elated by his experience tarpon fishing (and he also caught some bone fish on the fly) and I had grown fond of the laid back, slower lifestyle of our vacation lodge.
With any luck, we'll be back!

In parting: if you're looking for an all inclusive 5 star hotel with a pool to lounge around and a waiter to bring you drinks, this is NOT the place for you. If you're looking for an adventure off the beaten track, a great (and successful) fishing trip, an authentic Costa Rican experience and memories to last a lifetime...Tarponville is your spot!!

Recommend bringing: Bug spray/cream for some evenings or jungle walks, definitely sunscreen if you're going to be out in the boat or on the beach, a good pair of walking shoes for exploring, snorkeling gear (you can rent in town if you forget) to explore the reefs, water shoes (the coral can be hard on your tender feet).

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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19 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
British Columbia, Canada
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2010

This was my first tarpon fishing trip and it was awesome. They have an amazing fishery here that has to seen to believe it. Huge tarpon in large numbers. My first day ever tarpon fishing I hooked 12, jumped 9, and landed a 140 pound tarpon. I spent over 5 hours that day fighting fish. The second day I hooked 8 and jumped 6 including one true monster that would have been pushing 200 pounds. You fish from 26 foot panga boats that are extremely roomy and comfortable to fight fish from. My guide was knowledgeable and knew where to find fish. This is not a sight fishing experience, as most of your fishing is blind casting in the area of rolling fish. There is also an abundance of Jack Crevalle up to 20 pounds. Also, on a day off from tarpon fishing, I caught 2 bonefish from the beach down from the lodge. The lodge is in a spectacular setting surrounded by true rainforest jungle. My wife did some hiking around the lodge and saw sloths, monkeys, caimen, frogs, toucans, and numerous other species she had never seen before. The beaches are amazing and the snorkeling is fantastic as there is a large coral reef right in front of the lodge. The cooking was authentic carribean cuisine and was absolutely delicious. The staff takes good care of you here. If you want to catch huge tarpon in an incredibly beautiful setting(and don't mind gaining a few pounds from the awesome food) then this is the place for you. Cheers.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cody, WY
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 21, 2009

Tarponville lodge near Manzanillo is a great place. We were greated warmly and were treated very well during our stay. We ate very well too. Two wonderful local ladies do the cooking and it's fantastic. The manager of the lodge is a very nice man who's happy to help you out with anything you need. The fishing there is great. If you want to land a tarpon on the fly, you'd better come here because it will most likely happen at least once if not multiple times, which for tarpon fly fishing is tremendous.

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Birmingham, AL
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 21, 2009

The reviews that the person from Brooklyn and the person from New York make me laugh.

A friend and I stayed at Tarponville last week. We are avid fishermen and have fished all over the world. This may have been the best fishing trip of my life. It's easily in the top two. We left San Jose in the early morning for the trip to Manzanillo. The roads are mostly fine, and the scenery is beautiful. The last 15 miles of road is partially dirt, but that will be changing soon from what the locals told me. The roads did not take away from the experience in the least.

We at the lunch at the lodge, and then went fishing. I caught a 75 lb tarpon the first afternoon.

Over the next 5 1/2 days, we jumped numerous tarpon on our fly rods, and boated a few. The largest was 140 lbs., the smallest 70 lbs. We also caught several jack crevalle. The tarpon were released, the jacks were turned into dinner. Throughout the week, the fishing guides were great, the staff at Tarponville were friendly and attended to every need, and the food was wonderful. The rooms were clean and large, and were not damp and dingy.

I would stay there on a non fishing vacation too, although I suspect that I would have to sneak out a few days to sample some of the fine fishing. All in all, it was great.

If you're into vacations that include sitting around and watching tv, I would suggest Florida. If you're into staying active, seeing the jungle, catching some fish, and having fun while still being able to relax, Tarponville fits the bill. And, it's very easy to stay in touch since they do have cell phone service and internet, and a land line that you can use for a small fee.

There are a great many other tour options available too for jungle treks, etc., but I did not participate in any of these, but heard good things from people who did.

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Las Vegas
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2008

My husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to stay at this charming fishing lodge recently. We are adventurous travelers, and have visited many other tropical lodges, including fishing lodges on Ambergris Caye in Belize and Silver King on Rio Colorado also in Costa Rica. Our experience was far different than the previous reviewers'. We booked our trip online, arrived in San Jose, and went straight to the recommended Costa Verde Bed and Breakfast. After a wonderful typical breakfast, we had a beautiful 4 1/2 hour drive to Manzanillo, the tiny little village at the end of the road on the Caribbean coast. If you have the option, do take this trip during the day, you won't be disappointed.
Upon arriving in Manzanillo we were met by Dolfi, the manager, at Maxi's Restaurant. We sat upstairs and had a drink overlooking the ocean before going to the Lodge.
We felt very differently about the creek crossing than the previous reviewers. We got to the end of the road - and I can't stress enough how incredibly beautiful this area is, it's rare to find someplace that's still so untouched - we parked the car and crossed the (pretty small, actually) creek. It took less than a minute to cross, and was only about shin-high when we were there.
After walking along the trail to the lodge, it was as we expected, a very nice, rustic jungle lodge just 200 feet from the beach! We were shown to our room on the second floor which was bright, airy and clean with a nice bathroom, good ventilation and a ceiling fan. You share the deck overlooking the pristine ocean with the other room on this floor, but we rarely had company.
Below us on the first floor is a very tropical open-air dining room and kitchen, at which we enjoyed many drinks and meals.
Everyone we encountered was nothing less than very helpful and knowledgeable.
A short walk into town you will find (previously mentioned in the other reviews) Maxi's, the main local restaurant. This is a fabulous place with great food, great people, a great view and wonderful atmosphere. Good prices too!
Also, if you get a chance and have a car, be sure to visit Puerto Viejo up the road - lots more restaurants and shops . On the way to Puerto Viejo be sure not to miss La Pecora Nera. It was the best Italian food we've had (even in Italy), and fabulous atmosphere.
We were also happy with the fishing arrangements. Our guides were very knowledgeable and incredibly nice, and we each hooked and boated Tarpon on our fly rods! While Tarpon fishing, we also caught our fair share of Yellowjack, Spanish Mackerel, and Bonita.
On one of our non-fishing days we took the jungle hike, much recommended! Staying inside one of Costa Rica's most beautiful natural parks you must take advantage.
All in all, our trip was exactly what we were looking for. An adventurous, romantic, exciting fishing getaway to an incomparably beautiful location. We will definitely be back!

  • Liked — The views, the staff, the fishing
  • Disliked — No cell phone /internet service - but maybe that's a good thing!
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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Brooklyn
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2008

In April 2007 I stayed at Tarponville, Costa Rica. That was the worst experience in my life. Bad and not reliable business. What a shame. Shop around... Stay in San Jose and if your objective is fishing, drive to Manzanillo. Maxi's restaurant provides excellent seafood and will give you great tips about fishing guides. This way, you will be able to enjoy your trip! Have fun!

  • Liked — No comment
  • Disliked — Everything
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
new york, ny
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2006

Tarponville, Manzanillo, Costa Rica

Anglers and fly rodders, beware of Tarponville fishing lodge in Manzanillo, Costa Rica.
Here's an account of our experience:
After checking out the place on the Web site and talking with the owner, Jim DiBerardinis, we thought it sounded great. The description was wonderful, and the photos we saw seemed inviting -- pictures of a cozy resort with palm trees, swimming pool, modern comfortable looking accommodations.
The disappointment when we got there was beyond belief. After flying 5 hours and spending another 5 in a minivan from San Jose to Manzanillo going over some of the worst roads imaginable we stopped at night in the dark at end of a wet, muddy road. Where is Tarponville, where is the lodge, where is the resort? At this point, we were told we had to cross a creek and walk 400 meters along an unlit trail through the jungle to get to Tarponville.
My wife, who is usually pretty game, looked at the ``creek'' and asked where was the boat to take us across? No boat, we were told: take off your shoes and wade. To give you idea of what we confronted, there was a pickup truck stuck in the middle of this creek, water halfway up the doors and the truck that had come to pull it out was stuck in the muck as well.
We told Tarponville's manager that we weren't going to cross that in the dark. The local manager agreed to put us up at Las Palmas, a resort a couple of miles up the road.
The next morning, we agreed to go look at Tarponville. We crossed the creek, walked along the path through the jungle and arrived at Tarponville. It was most unappealing -- it's basically a large shack with a pair of damp, grubby second-floor rooms over an open eating area/kitchen. Where was the swimming pool, the nice looking beach, the well-kept accommodations?
We got on the phone with the owner, DiBerardinis, who told us that what we had seen were photos of Las Palmas, where we had spent the night, and that he occasionally sent ``overbooked'' customers to stay there. Then it dawned on me -- this was the oldest trick in the book: a classic bait and switch. By the way, Tarponville has since taken the pictures of Las Palmas off its Web site.
On the phone, DiBerardinis said if we weren't happy he would refund some of money while we stayed at Las Palmas, which we said we would pay for. We did that.
But once I got home, DiBerardinis reneged on his offer to refund some of the $3,300-plus I paid to him upfront, one of the unseemly conditions of booking at Tarponville.
Folks, here's my advice if you want to fish in Manzanillo. Rent a car at San Jose (try Poas, at (--), drive to Manzanillo (once you're out of San Jose, it's a pretty straight shot), book a room at Las Palmas (--) or the hotel next to it, Suerre (--). Try booking a guide through the hotels or head to Maxi's bar and restaurant in Manzanillo (--) and ask for a fishing guide.
I figure that for two people this would cost $2,000-$2,500 for a week's stay and three to five days of fishing, not the $4,500 you'll pay in high season for the privilege of staying in a dump and being treated as if you should be grateful you're a guest.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Tarponville

Address: Tarpon, Manzanillo, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Manzanillo
Hotel Style:
Ranked #11 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Manzanillo
Also Known As:
Tarponville Hotel Manzanillo
Tarponville Costa Rica/Manzanillo

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