Golfo Dulce Coral Gardening

Coral in the ocean near Playa Cativo Lodge

There are a few diverse ways that people are working to restore coral reefs.

One way is to collect healthy coral fragments from other reefs and grow them in nurseries. These healthy coral fragments can then be transplanted back to the reef once they have grown enough.

Another way to restore coral reefs is by using coral larvae. Coral larvae are baby corals that are collected from the ocean and then grown in nurseries. Once they have grown, they are transplanted back to the reef.

Keeping the coral reef ecosystem healthy is extremely important, since the provide habitats for fish and other marine organisms; they protect coastlines from erosion and natural disasters, along many benefits to the biodiversity of the ocean.

Playa Cativo in Golfo Dulce, Coral Gardening Project 

Coral gardening aims to restore areas where they have been affected by different circumstances, to assure they will continue to thrive. Playa Cativo Eco Lodge, together with the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje INA (Learning Institute of Costa Rica), is currently running a coral gardening project that started a few years ago, in the north-east side of the gulf to restore some of the damaged reefs.

What gardening methods are used for this project?

Asexual reproduction is used as a method for "cultivating" pieces or healthy fragments of corals in substrate underwater structures such as blocks, antennas, and nets - that sustain the growing species until they reach a fair size to be out-planted.

Then, based on the coral´s ecology, the selected areas for restoration and research for this project in Golfo Dulce are Punta Esquinas and Punta Cativo, where  team and researchers are currently work with four selected coral species: Porites lobata, Pavona gigantea, Pocillopora damicornis and Psammocora stellata. Fragments collecting is done in La Viuda, Punta Esquinas and Punta El Bajo.

Monthly visits ensure the maintenance of the nurseries, the analyses of physical and chemical factors or anthropogenically hazards that may affect the growing corals, and the improvement of the gardening methods.


The last visit of 2022 was in May, and it was one of the most successful ones, as most coral were found to be healthy, adapting and growing famously. Over 123 fish from ten different fish species around the corals were documented, and over 110 coral fragments (or what we love to call: Coral babies) were harvested in perfect conditions to be transplanted to other nurseries of the gulf. 


Coral reefs are declining at a fast and alarming rate, therefore, projects like coral gardening are essential to keep reefs alive worldwide. 

As a guest of Playa Cativo Lodge, you have the opportunity to take part on this exciting project, by volunteering, sharing ideas, donating, spreading the word or even help harvesting or planting baby corals with our teams. It is a wonderful way to be help a good cause and porpuse, while enjoying an amazing tropical vacation in a destination that focuses on conservation and sustainability.
Find out more about Playa Cativo's Conservation efforts!