At the southwest corner of the country hides one of Costa Rica’s most unique, off-the-grid getaways: the Osa Peninsula, where wildlife outnumbers human life, and you needn’t travel further than your lodge’s deck to see it. One of the most bio-diverse 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 peninsula offers affordable luxury lodging and a list of activities, the region itself boasting some of the best sport fishing and eco tours in the country. There are also sleepy beach towns such as Puerto Jimenez, and Pavones for excellent surfing.
One-third of the peninsula comprises huge swaths of Pacific rainforest; beautiful, deserted beaches; jungle-edged river-ways; vast swamps and tangled mangroves protected as the Corcovado National Park since 1975, which provides the best opportunity to spot many endangered species such as Baird’s tapirs, margays, ocelots, puma, and even the occasional jaguar. Fantastic birdwatching opportunities are most easily granted on early morning hikes, when you can see species like toucans or scarlet macaws, the park also an excellent place to observe crocodiles, several species of snakes, poison dart frogs, giant ant eaters and 4 types of sea turtles as well as many endemic species such as indigenous wild cats. Corcovado National Park is one of only 2 locations where you can see all 4 species of the country’s monkeys. Guided walks on scenic trails, whale or dolphin watching with a biologist, and uncovering cascading falls 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 peninsula protects the Golfo Dulce (Sweet Golf) from the crashing Pacific, which draws schools of fish, whales and dolphins to its calm waters. Birdlife is also in abundance in the palms lining the shore.
But Osa’s marine-paradise counterpart is found on the 741-acre biological reserve of Isla del Caño, which, despite the strict limitation of 5 dive sites and 10 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 spot 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.