The Osa Peninsula has been dubbed Costa Rica’s last wilderness frontier. Rich in wildlife sparsely populated and, until recently, having very difficult access, much of this highly forested area is conserved in national parks and private reserves. Towering rainforest's line undeveloped beaches and untouched coves, making this region one of the most beautiful anywhere on earth.
In response to a growing eco-tourism market, many environmentally conscious lodges have opened up at the entrances to Corcovado National Park. Puerto Jimenez and Drake bay have become premier destinations, catering to vacationers who want to experience nature and comfort simultaneously.
Nearby Caño Island is excellent for snorkeling and diving, while the deeper waters are great for sport fishing. You can swim with dolphins, go horseback riding and swing through the trees on a canopy adventure, Dive with sharks; follow a tapir through the forests; or simply hang out drinking fine wine at any of the luxury lodges. This is how you experience Osa.
Puerto Jimenez is a growing town of about 8000 with a pleasant, bustling frontier feel. You can stock up on provisions before heading to the park, enjoy a meal or stroll around town, where monkeys, parrots and lizards share space with the locals. Puerto Jimenez is a great starting point for tours to the national park.
Drake Bay has just one small village, Agujitas, a friendly place with a population of around 200. There is a small school, a few stores and a medical center.
Its tropical humid here. Trade winds can deposit rain at anytime of the year, but there are distinct differences in precipitation throughout the year. The dry season runs from January through April, with the wettest months being October, November and December. You may want to bring an umbrella. Shorts are indispensable, as the mercury climbs into the high 80s and low 90s.
Osa’s isolation has kept the region raw and untouched, and makes getting there even more rewarding.
Puerto Jimenez can be reached by taking the Pan-American Highway south, turning off a Chacarita at the turnoff for Jimenez and La Palma. The last stretch is slow, as the gravel road is riddled with potholes. Drake Bay is accessible through Palmar Norte, requiring a sturdy four wheel drive vehicle. Consult your map and ask around for conditions; bridges may be washed out.
Boats leave daily for Puerto Jimenez from Golfito, taking about an hour and a half to cross the Golfo Dulce. You can get to Drake Bay by boat along the river Sierpe. Your lodge should take care of the arrangements from the small river port village of Sierpe. Independent travelers can usually find space on one of the many small boats delivering passengers and supplies to Drake Bay lodges. The river mouth can be choppy, which makes for an exciting voyage.
Several Buses depart daily from San Jose to Palmar Norte, arriving in around 6.5 hours. Buses depart San Jose daily from Calle 12 between Avenidas 7 and 9.
Sansa and Nature Air have daily direct flights to Drake Bay and Puerto Jimenez, taking less than an hour.
What to do:
Most lodges organize tours of the national park and surroundings areas.
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park
Bug spray and good boots are essential for a guided trip to the Sirena or San Pedrillo rainforest stations. Lodges and travel companies can help you make arrangements.
Those wishing to stay overnight must phone national park headquarters to reserve a room and meals.
Alternatively, rough it: bring a tent and your own food. Access is by foot, boat or plane.
Diving is excellent near Drake Bay, with plenty of nooks and crannies full or colorful creatures in warm waters with great visibility.
Spend a day swimming with dolphins and whales. For trips and accommodations contact Dolphin Amort Lodge.
Independent travelers can hire bilingual guides through a local initiative agency staffed by qualified naturalists who will take you anywhere in the region.
Osa Peninsula Adventures
Cabo Matapalo Nature Wall:
Explore Costa Rica’s most diverse rain forest. You’re almost guaranteed to see all four species of monkeys that inhabit the country’s forest, as well as scarlet macaws, beautiful waterfalls, virgin rainforest, and idyllic beaches.
Corcovado by Plane:
At 7:00 am you will fly from Puerto Jimenez to Sirena biological station. After a 4-hour hike through the rain forest you will have your lunch before canoing up the Sirena river. You’ll have an excellent chance of seeing white-lipped peccary, tapirs, all four species of monkeys that live in Costa Rica, agoutis, coati, fresh jaguar tracks, toucans, and scarlet macaws. This is a real jungle!
The Ultimate Corcovado Park Tour:
You’ll hike to the Sirena Biological Station, where you’ll spend the next two nights.
Hiking is excellent, and the amount of flora and fauna in the area is phenomenal additionally, you’ll have the chance to swim in some crystalline waters, explore waterfalls, and experience the forest as never before.
After an early morning departure from Puerto Jimenez you’ll head to Carate. After a walk on the beach you will spend the entire day hiking in Corcovado National Park. The amount of flora and fauna in the park is phenomenal and you will have a chance to swim in the crystalline waters of the Madrigal River.
Swim With the Dolphins:
Cruise the beautiful Golfo Dulce, looking for bottle nose and spotted dolphins. If conditions are right, you can actually jump in and swim with them. Exotic birds, spectacular sunsets and tranquil waters make this an specially relaxing excursion.