Peninsula de Osa: An insider guide to enjoy your visit to the fullest

Updated: Aug 14, 2021

Peninsula de Osa and Corcovado National Park… Magical places. It’s estimated that this part of Costa Rica holds up 2,5% of the biodiversity in the whole world and it’s believed that this is the most biological intense place on this planet. A destination on the bucket list of many travellers who visit Costa Rica. But… when you’re travelling through Costa Rica for just a few weeks, it can be quite overwhelming to figure out what’s the best way to discover this unique piece of Earth. There are many agencies in the region, each offering about 15 different types of tours and packages. Mostly, they are quite expensive and sometimes it’s immediately clear what you’ll get in return for your money, because you're not familiar with the region.

To help you out, we share our insider tips and experiences so you can enjoy your visit to Peninsula de Osa and Corcovado National Park to the fullest, in an authentic way and with the best price / quality ratio possible. In this article, we discuss the following topics:

Peninsula de Osa and Corcovado National Park itself are incredibly big, so you can imagine that there're many things to see and do. To simplify things, we divide Peninsula de Osa in two parts: Puerto Jimenez (in the South-East of the peninsula) and Bahía Drake (Drake Bay, located in the North West of the peninsula). First we give our insider tips about sightseeing and staying around Puerto Jimenez and Bahía Drake and in the last sections of this read, we tell you all about how to get from A to B to C to … on Peninsula de Osa with your own vehicle and by public transport.

We recommend you to start your visit in Puerto Jimenez and to then move on to Bahía Drake. The reason is that around Puerto Jimenez there are many opportunities to see wildlife and other interesting natural sights (almost) for free. If after visiting Puerto Jimenez and its surroundings you keep a craving for seeing more nature and wildlife, you will definitely find it around Bahía Drake. To enjoy the nature around Drake Bay to the fullest, it can be interesting to book a tour or two though. In this way, you can decide little by little if you find it worth it to spend more money or if you already feel satisfied by the amount of wildlife you have seen up to a certain point.

Sightseeing and staying around Puerto Jimenez

A good place to start off in Puerto Jimenez is La Palapa Hut Nature Hostel & Campground’. Maybe it’s slightly more expensive to stay here than on an average camp ground or in a normal hostel, but the big advantage is that it’s surrounded by a lot of nature. Only by staying here, you have a great chance of seeing a lot of birds and other wildlife!

Puerto Jimenez town

Around Puerto Jimenez town you can find a lot of public places to spot wildlife. On the map and satellite pictures below, we show you a part of town where a lot of birds, iguanas and even crocodiles roam around…! Although the map doesn’t show any roads, there are walkable paths around this area, as you can see by the lines.

The spot marked with a blue circle is a small lagoon/swamp where crocodiles roam around. Locals feed them to be sure they show up when they take tourist over here. Normally the crocodiles are in the water. We saw a croc-mom with her babies!

Use your common sense walking around this area and be aware that wildlife can be dangerous. Observe and don’t touch or feed wild animals, even if they roam around in the city. Always be aware where you place your hands and feet. Reptiles use camouflage to hide themselves from potential danger or to attack by surprise.

Mangroves Puerto Jimenez

For us, the most interesting area around Puerto Jimenez definitely is the mangroves. The best option is to visit the mangroves with a local guide or someone who has experience in the area. You have to know exactly when the tide is low and when the tide starts to rise again. Only around low tide, it’s possible to visit the mangroves by foot. Once the tide starts to rise again, you have to immediately leave this area, otherwise you’ll get trapped and that can be very dangerous! At one point, you have to cross a river that’s very calm at low tide, but once the high tide starts to kick in again, it becomes quite rough. We’re sure you can ask at your hotel or hostel if they know someone who can accompany you on your adventure around the mangroves.

In the image below, you can see to which point you can walk. In the small red circle in the top left corner, we marked a tree that is reachable at low tide and makes up for a very unique photo location. The red line on this image marks the end of the hike, where you’ll encounter a bunch of typical mangrove trees, their roots forming an incredible arch over the river… You’ll have to walk the same way back to return to Puerto Jimenez.

As you can see in the pictures below, it’s so worth it to pay a short visit to this area. The landscape is so distinct from other types of landscapes and incredibly photo genetic. Put shoes that can get dirty or walk barefoot!

Cabo Matapalo Coastal Road

From Puerto Jimenez, you can take a public bus or drive by car to the South-East tip of Peninsula de Osa and explore the area of the Cabo Matapalo Coastal Road. Several paradisical beaches and waterfalls are awaiting you. We would advise you to park your car or get off the bus around Playa Sombrero and enjoy some ‘beach hopping’, a picnic and hiking around. Some of the hotspots to visits are: Playa Tamales, Playa Sombrero, Playa Pan Dulce, Playa Matapalo and King Louis Waterfall. There are several impressive trees, like Strangler Figs around this area too.

Keep your eyes open and your binoculars and snorkel ready at all times, because there’s a lot of wildlife around here. Monkeys, birds, reptiles, fish… It’s also very exciting to go for a walk around dusk and dawn, since a lot of animals get active around these hours. Bring a flash light or head lamp and search for the eyes of all kinds of animals reflecting your light!