At the southwest corner of the country hides one of Costa Rica’s unique, off-the-grid getaways: the Osa Peninsula, where wildlife outnumbers human life, and you needn’t travel farther than your lodge’s deck to see it. One of the most biodiverse ecotourism destinations in the world, it harbors the country’s most abundant wildlife, including over 400 bird species, 139 species of mammals, and 116 amphibian species. Best visited on a day trip by boat, the Osa Peninsula offers affordable luxury lodging and a list of activities, the region itself boasting some of the best sport fishing and ecotours in the country. There are also sleepy beach towns, such as Puerto Jimenez, and Pavones for excellent surfing.
One-third of the Osa Peninsula comprises vast swaths of Pacific rainforest; beautiful, deserted beaches; jungle-edged riverways; and vast swamps and tangled mangroves protected as the Corcovado National Park since 1975, which provides the best opportunity to spot endangered species such as Baird’s tapirs, margays, ocelots, puma, and even the occasional jaguar. Fantastic bird-watching opportunities are most easily granted on early morning hikes, when you can see species like toucan or scarlet macaw.
The park is also an excellent place to observe crocodiles, several species of snakes, poison dart frogs, giant anteaters, and four types of sea turtles and many endemic species such as indigenous wild cats. Corcovado National Park is one of only two locations where you can see all four species of the country’s monkeys. Guided walks on scenic trails, whale or dolphin watching with a biologist, and uncovering cascading waterfalls on hikes through virgin forests are just a few of the many options to enjoy.
Wildlife isn’t only found in the rugged natural beauty of the park. The Osa Peninsula protects the Golfo Dulce (Sweet Golf) from the crashing Pacific and draws schools of fish, whales, and dolphins to its calm waters. Bird life is also in abundance in the palms lining the shore.
Osa Peninsula’s marine-paradise counterpart is found on the 741-acre biological reserve of Isla del Caño, which, despite the strict limitation of five dive sites and ten divers allowed in the water at once, is regarded by many to be Costa Rica’s best scuba-diving spot. A great number of pristine coral reefs ring its turquoise waters, which boast the largest number of coral-building organisms found in the country’s Pacific.
You can spot schools of fish, turtles, manta rays, white-tipped reef sharks, olive ridley sea turtles, moray eels, dolphins, and both humpback and pilot whales. On land, there are boa constrictors, bats, and tree frogs, among others. A handful of white-sand beaches dot the island, as well as several hiking trails found across the terrain.
And finally, the tiny village of Drake Bay makes the perfect base for exploring this region. Situated at the north of the peninsula, there you will find remote lodges that cater to naturalists, anglers, and scuba divers.
Osa Peninsula Essential Information
Reasons to Visit
- Family Travel
- Honeymoon & Romance
- Nature & Wildlife
- 3 nights
When to Visit
- Good: September-October
- Better: May-August / November
- Best: December-April