IMPROVING the coastal ecosystem of Guacalillo


Aspen Caricam’s Mandela Day activity focused on Guacalillo, home to a coastal community of approximately 640 low-income families.

The beach of Guacalillo is a relatively unknown destination on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in the Puntarenas province, about 2 hours from the capital. The last 10 kilometers that lead to the coast are not food condition but you will be rewarded with amazing views.

You will get a chance to spot birds like Scarlet Macaws or Great Green Macaws, iguanas and many others. Guacalillo's environmental beauty, was sufficient motivation for us to identify ways in which to preserve this ecosystem.

The residents of Guacalillo are highly dependent on local fishing as a vital source of income to provide for their families. Fishing conditions have, however, become unsustainable over a number of years as a result of local environmental contamination.

The Gran Tárcoles River flows through Costa Rica’s Guacalillo into the Pacific Ocean. The river is highly polluted with the city’s garbage and it is estimated that at least 24 trucks dump garbage into river daily. This garbage naturally makes its way into the ocean and onto the beaches.


Our primary purpose was to contribute to the improvement of the coastal ecosystem through multiple activities. These included the reforestation of 10 fruit trees as well as cleaning the beach by collecting solid waste such as bottles, shoes, toys, and other items.

While much was achieved, so much more still needs to be done. Through some 245 hours of volunteering we collected nearly 360 kilograms of water. Of this, 198 kilograms was non-recoverable waste while 158 kilograms of recoverable waste was routed to a nearby recycling center. Recycling has become a new source of income for families in this area and through our efforts to improve the coastal ecosystem we were also able to contribute to generating employment prospects for some of Guacalillo’s residents.