Situated on the tip of the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica, the small town of Cabo Matapalo provides visitors with backdoor access into some of the country's most beautiful and least visited places: Corcovado National Park, Golfo Dulce, and Isla del Cano
Cabo Matapalo, known by the locals as simply Matapalo, is a basic town with a scattering of restaurants, hotels, and eco-lodges. It borders a beach along the Pacific Ocean that routinely ushers in large swells, there are several areas to surf, with waves that vary in difficulty. Some of the stronger and larger waves roll into point breaks over a rocky bottom, and should only be attempted by experienced surfers. However, another area known as Pan Dulce ("sweet bread" in Spanish) has much smaller and gentler waves that break onto the beach, providing beginning surfers with a place to test out their skills.
Perhaps, Cabo Matapalo's biggest selling point is its close proximity to the astounding Corcovado National Park. This 103,290 acres (41,800 hectare) national park protects huge swaths of tropical rainforest and houses an incredible amount of biodiversity. During a hike along one of the park's many trails, visitors may spot scarlet macaws, toucans, jaguars, sloths, white-faced capuchins, and Baird's tapirs. What's more, all four species of sea turtle the Olive Ridley, leatherback, hawksbill, and Pacific green are known to frequent the park's beaches to lay their eggs.
Off the coast, there are wonderful sport fishing opportunities in the Golfo Dulce marlin, sailfish, tuna, wahoo and snapper can all be hooked. Farther out, in the waters surrounding Isla del Caño, visitors will enjoy excellent snorkeling and scuba diving.
Getting to Cabo Matapalo can be a bit tricky the easiest way is to catch a flight from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez, and then drive the remaining 45-minutes to the town.
Feedback From Travelers
Fantastic experience. Literally out of this world.
The time at Bosque del Cabo was magical. Their property is walking distance from Cabo Matapalo and we took the trail to Playa Matapalo. I did not understand before coming that these beaches are more for looking at or surfing. So, we foolishly brought snorkel gear. Playa Pan Dulce is safe for swimming but it's rocky and was hard to enter at low tide. Being from Colorado, a land locked state in the US, we have limited understanding of the ocean. So, on a future visit to Costa Rica, I would like to know where good snorkeling might exist, if anywhere. So, the time at Bosque del Cabo was marvelous and exceeded expectations. And, the area of Cabo Matapalo was very pretty (and again, filled with amazing wildlife including incredible monkeys and birds). But, we had to shift our expectations for swimming and snorkeling to just enjoying the beauty. No complaints. Just our ignorance and incorrect expectations. I do want to learn to surf and would make a plan to set that up some time if snorkeling is not something that can be done in Costa Rica. I will need to research more for our next visit.