South Pacific

With the largest prehistoric rainforest along the Central American Pacific, Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula (Peninsula de Osa) is one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse locations on the planet. With few entry points, this jewel of Costa Rica remains relatively isolated, and it receives fewer visitors than many other parts of the country. Miles of uninhabited beach and the enormous Corcovado National Park make this southern tip one of Costa Rica's most stunning regions. Friendly people, amazing flora and fauna, and active rainforests all contribute to the South Pacific experience.

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Corcovado National Park

The crown jewel of Costa Rica's national park system, Corcovado National Park (Parque Nacional Corcovado), is comprised of an enormous 103,290 acres (41,800 ha) of tropical rainforest. The largest of Costa Rica's parks, it encompasses about a third of the Osa Peninsula and embraces an unbelievable amount of its biodiversity.

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Marino Ballena National Park

Encompassing 270 acres of land (110 terrestrial hectares) and 13,300 acres of ocean (5,400 marine hectares) is the Marino Ballena National Park (Parque Nacional Marino Ballena). Positioned just 10 mi (16 km) south of Dominical and 112 mi (180 km) southwest of San Jose, Marino Ballena is one of the newest national parks in Costa Rica. Established in 1990, the park contains the largest coral reef on the Pacific side of Central America. The park&s waters are also great vantage points for viewing the humpback whale as it migrates (Dec. to April) from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii down to Cano Island, just off of the Osa Peninsula.

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Isla del Caño Biological Reserve

Isla del Caño – situated 20 km offshore from Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula – is an important island for Costa Rica, both archeologically and environmentally. The waters surrounding this biological reserve are swarming with marine creatures, while the island itself protects several artifacts that date back to pre-Columbian times.

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Drake Bay

Resting on the northern side of the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay (Bahía Drake) is an adventure-seeker's paradise. It is named after Sir Francis Drake, who is believed to have ventured here in the late 16th century. Travelers here take on some of his adventurous spirit on treks through the primary rainforest.

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Uvita

For a less crowded beach vacation, Uvita may be the ideal location. Sitting 11 miles (17 km) south of Dominical along Coastal Highway 34 (Costanera Sur), this tropical hamlet possesses great charm in an unspoiled, serene atmosphere. With palm trees swaying in the wind, providing shady relief from the intense Pacific sun, it may seem surreal that this environment is as uncorrupted as it is. It won't stay like this forever though, conditions will one day change and the secret of the Bahia Ballena will be out.

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Puerto Jimenez

Puerto Jiménez might be the best town from which to access Corcovado National Park. Located on the eastern coast of the Osa Peninsula, on the Dulce Gulf, this small town has plenty of hotels and activities to offer as well as being favorably located. From Puerto Jiménez, you can explore just about everything there is to offer, even take a ferry across the gulf to the colorful city of Golfito. Exploring the history of this small unhurried city may give you the impression of the Wild Wild West.

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Ojochal, Playas Tortuga & Ventana

The town of Ojochal and its surrounding beaches provide solitude and the ideal setting for some rest and relaxation. Lush tropical forests melt into the sandy shores of the Pacific for tropical postcard scenery. Due to their location, these beaches are far less developed and visited than the more popular destinations.

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Dominical

About 27 mi (44 km) south of Quepos is the quaint and growing beach town of Dominical. Along the coast, before arriving in this popular surf town, the cascading cliffs converge with the deep-blue ocean, producing a scenic landscape full of small coves for truly precious views. The laid back beach town is surrounded by plantations, estuaries, mangroves and marshes. Birder beware, you may not want to leave!

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Cabo Matapalo

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

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Golfito

Opposite Puerto Jiménez, and across the Dulce Gulf, is the small town of Golfito, Costa Rica's only city situated within a declared protection area. Originally a banana port, 90% of the country’s banana exports came from Golfito during the 1950’s. Since then however, operations have shut down, dramatically affecting the local economy. In turn, the town has turned to the Duty-Free Shopping Center (Déposito Libre Comercial de Golfito) as its economic strength. The center sits at the north end of town and draws bargain shoppers from all over the country. Golfito is now a quiet port better known for being a gateway to the surrounding destinations, rather than a destination in and of itself.

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Carate

Carate is situated along Costa Rica's southern Pacific coast in the wonderfully isolated Osa Peninsula. Lying about 31 miles (50 km) south of Drake Bay, right next to the lush Corcovado National Park, Carate is off the grid for most tourists, and as such is one of the country's most pristine natural areas.

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Golfo Dulce

Wild, scenic and incredibly bio-diverse, Golfo Dulce is not on most tourists itineraries. The name, says it all, Golfo Dulce or sweet gulf, in English. After a well justified visit to the Golfo Dulce, located in the South Pacific region of Costa Rica, and adjacent to the Osa Peninsula, visitors will be delighted and perplexed, wondering why they would ever leave this wonderland.

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Pavones

Pavones is a small town located in the southern Pacific Zone about 1 1/2 hour drive from Golfito. The little pueblo exists almost entirely for surf tourists who make the journey for the left point break that runs the entire length of the village of Pavones. Being the only surf destination south of Domical, Pavones is the end of the road and a little out of the way. However for the opportunity to catch rides that will make your legs ache it is well worth the journey.

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Corcovado

Located on the wild and untamed Osa Peninsula, the Corcovado National Park embodies Costa Rica's most truly splendid wonders. Breathtaking rainforests, rugged natural beauty, secluded and untouched beaches await the arrival of eco adventurers and wildlife admirers, alike. Prepare to be touched, moved and inspired by the unforgettable beauty of this area.

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Playa Zancudo

A long stretch of black sand backed by coconut palms and almond trees forms the idyllic setting for Playa Zancudo. Located along the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica in the Golfo Dulce, Playa Zancudo is a beautiful and untouched area that sees significantly fewer tourists than other parts of the country. The atmosphere here is laid-back, and a variety of activities ensures that visitors will be occupied as much (or as little) as they'd like to be.

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Cano Island

Located 10 miles (16 km) offshore from the Osa Peninsula and directly west of Drake Bay is the uninhabited Isla del Caño and the Caño Island Biological Reserve (Reserva Biologica Isla del Cano). The island sits within the Coronado Bay, tantalizingly peering ashore as if to invite guests to come explore its clear waters. The forests within the biological reserve provide far-reaching trails, allowing visitors to explore the lush flora and fauna as well as the enchanting history of this unique island.

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Coco Island

Coco Island is for serious scuba divers only. Positioned 300 miles (480 km) to the southwest of the Osa Peninsula, this unique and marvelous island provides the ideal location to discover the ocean below. Adventurers travel from all over to experience this underwater haven. Thrusting currents transport vital nutrients to these crystal clear waters, attracting a multitude of marine life. For the protection and sustainability of the flora and fauna, the island has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Paso Canoas

Paso Canoas is the main border crossing between Costa Rica and Panama. It’s rustic and basic, but is the best way to get to Panama by land from Costa Rica.

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Playa Blanca Costa Rica

Playa Blanca (or “White Beach” in English) sits on the coast of the isolated Osa Peninsula, on a body of water called the Golfo Dulce. This environment is hot, humid, and tropical. Rain falls here frequently, and it is one of the top 25 most bio-diverse locations in the world.

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Palmar Sur

Found in an extraordinarily beautiful part of Costa Rica, Palmar Sur is situated in the Southern Pacific Region of Costa Rica. This region is home to some of the country's most stunning natural treasures including exotic rainforest and many endangered species. The eco adventurers and nature lovers will discover an unforgettable slice of heaven here.

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Sierpe

The sleepy town of Sierpe lies in the southern part of the Puntarenas Province in the Southern Pacific region. Sierpe is known as the gateway to the remarkably beautiful Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park. This area is considered one of the most biologically intense places with its raw and untamed natural beauty and incredible wildlife.

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Costa Rica

A little more about South Pacific

Due to the South Pacific's geographic location, high humidity and rainfall keep its vegetation flourishing year round. The scarcely populated region receives almost 200 inches (508 cm) of rainfall per year, and visitors should get ready to explore some wet and humid terrain!

While the region's valleys were once home to thriving banana plantations, much of the area is covered with dense rainforest, presenting some of the best wildlife-viewing opportunities imaginable. Traveling through the region, visitors can view an abundance of mangroves and estuaries along the coastline. A wealth of rivers supplies the area with amazing biodiversity and excellent white-water rafting, and the region's endless eye-catching views and captivating sunsets ensure for an insurmountable experience.

While you're in the Osa Peninsula, visit the Corcovado National Park to explore this untamed wilderness with a guide. Corcovado National Park covers 164 square miles (424 sq km), and is one of the most colorful and noisy rainforests in all of Costa Rica.On a trek through the Corcovado rainforest you will walk in the shade of over 500 species of tree. Some of these trees have gigantic leaves that look as though they are from an era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. There's a good chance you will encounter the ceiba, a rare type of tree with buttressed roots, a long trunk, and a wide canopy high above the ground. You can encounter 400 species of birds along these trails, including the famed scarlet macaw. Your guide will point out hard-to-spot plants and animals, and tell you which plants are edible.

The Osa Peninsula has two main towns, Puerto Jimenez and Drake Bay. Altogether Osa has a population of approximately 5,000 people. Accommodations and tour companies here work hard to make sure their services don't damage the surrounding environment. This type of tourism is referred to as "rural tourism" or "community tourism," and it allows visitors to safety visit a delicate eco-system. Your visit here will also help support the small population of locals.

Costa Rica's South Pacific Region also contains Coco Island (Isla del Coco,) a remote island located 300 mi (480 km) offshore. The island harbors almost 9 mi^2 (24 km^2) of pristine natural wilderness within Coco Island National Park (Parque Nacional Isla del Coco), and research at the Park is dedicated to evolution of local plant, animal, and insect species, many of which are endemic to the area. Excursions to the island can be taken by boat or plane from various launch points on the Osa Peninsula. A trip to Coco Island is perfect for avid scuba divers who wish to marvel at the manta rays, whale sharks, and hammerheads that frequent Coco's beautiful waters.

Back on the mainland, the base of the South Pacific Region lies along the Pan-American Highway, a primary entry route for cars and buses. However, you can also reach the South Pacific by traveling along Highway 34, which runs down the scenic Pacific coast. The important city of Palmar Norte is a main hub for southern Costa Rica. It lies north of the Osa Peninsula, and it is a good 6-hour drive from San Jose. Adjacent to Palmar Norte, sits the tiny domestic airstrip of Palmar Sur, which receives daily flights from San Jose. Many of the main destinations around the Osa Peninsula also have airports. Flights to these airstrips will make the trip faster and more convenient, but it will also be more expensive. Southeast of Palmar Norte, in the small village of Chacarita, you can find a single road (245) that winds its way around the Dulce Gulf (Golfo Dulce). It ends in the isolated town of Carate on the border of Corcovado National Park. Here you will find endless white-sandy beaches in both directions. Carate seems to lie at the very edge of civilization; get ready for a taste of the final frontier!

Costa Rica Osa Peninsula Rainforest Treks

The Osa Peninsula is one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. Thousands of rare species make their home in the rainforest here. While you're in the Osa Peninsula, visit the Corcovado National Park to explore this untamed wilderness with a guide. Corcovado National Park covers 164 square miles (424 sq km), and is one of the most colorful and noisy rainforests in all of Costa Rica.

On a trek through the Corcovado rainforest you will walk in the shade of over 500 species of tree. Some of these trees have gigantic leaves that look as though they are from an era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. There's a good chance you will encounter the ceiba, a rare type of tree with buttressed roots, a long trunk, and a wide canopy high above the ground. You can encounter 400 species of birds along these trails, including the famed scarlet macaw. Your guide will point out hard-to-spot plants and animals, and tell you which plants are edible.

The Osa Peninsula has two main towns, Puerto Jimenez and Drake Bay. Altogether Osa has a population of approximately 5,000 people. Accommodations and tour companies here work hard to make sure their services don't damage the surrounding environment. This type of tourism is referred to as "rural tourism" or "community tourism," and it allows visitors to safety visit a delicate eco-system. Your visit here will also help support the small population of locals.

Members of the community have made it their mission to introduce visitors to their independent way of life. In Rancho Quemado for example, Juan Cubillo has set up a gold mining tour that demonstrates how Osa communities have been able to make a living off of the minerals that are just below the ground. In another rural tourism project, the Villalobos family offers hikes to pristine swimming holes and hours of exploring typically off-limits parts of the Osa, within their 1000 acres (400 ha) of private rainforest. In another community called Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre, Xiña Umaña will take you one and a half hours upstream to explore her farm, and spend the night in her mountainside cabin on the outskirts of Corcovado National Park.

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Hiking up to Xiña Umaña’s cabin in Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre.

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Juan Cubillo next to his mining tent tent during the ‘Finca las Minas’ tour.

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Exploring Laguna Chocuaco in hopes of seeing upwards of 13 species of birds.

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A not so rare ‘bird tree’ sighting.

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The Osa in all its glory - a Ceiba tree.

Trips to inspire

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Get excited and browse our selection of our favorite hand made tours including South Pacific. From romantic honeymoons to family-fun; these are completely flexible and arranged to your needs.

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Volcano & South Pacific Family Vacation

We were very impressed with Costa Rica's sustainability and emphasis on being environmentally conscious.

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A Mother/Daughter Nature Expedition

I did not meet one unfriendly person. Everyone was friendly and helpful. I loved the experience of Costa Rica!

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An Epic Romantic Getaway

We loved Costa Rica! From the start of our journey to the end, we were truly amazed with the ecology,wildlife viewing, breathtaking scenery, friendly people and overall unspoiled natural setting. We will definitely be back.

An Epic Romantic Getaway
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This Getaway Was Paradise!

We visited three very different parts of Costa Rica—Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, and Drake Bay. Tracy at Anywhere.com was wonderful! Very responsive, proactive, and helpful!

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An Adventure of a Lifetime

Costa Rica has really got itself well organised for tourism, the service was spot on, the travel timing accurate ( although some of the roads were really poor, pot holed). Hotels and activities are really geared for tourists and they made us feel welcome.

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