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