The Osa Peninsula with Corcovado National Park and the Golfo Dulce is most likely the highlight for anyone visiting Costa Rica that is interest in wildlife and raw nature. So, we often get asked about where the best place to visit or stay is on the Osa Peninsula. Considering that fact that we run a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World in the Matapalo area, we might be biased, but we will try to be as objective as possible.
The Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park are described by National Geographic as the most biologically diverse area of the world. While Costa Rica is home to almost 5% of the world’s biodiversity, the tiny Osa Peninsula is home to about 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity. If you are looking for a true wildlife experience, you cannot miss this part of Costa Rica. Then, of course, there is the Golfo Dulce, which is one of the world’s few tropical fjords. It is a marine wildlife sanctuary for whales, dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and many more endangered animals.
There are three or four areas that you could use as a base to visit. The port town of Golfito in order to explore the Golfo Dulce, Bahia Drake to explore the area north of Corcovado, the Puerto Jimenez / Matapalo / Carate area to explore the south of Corcovado and the mainland from Sierpe to Uvita if you just want to visit the peninsula on a day trip. Where to go exactly, depends on what you are looking for.
- Golfito is perfect to explore the Golfo Dulce.
- Bahia Drake is perfect to visit Cano Island.
- The Matapalo area is best for wildlife observation.
- The Uvita area is closest to the SJO airport.
A former guide of ours insists that there is no better place in Costa Rica to see abundant wildlife than the area south of Corcovado near Matapalo. While Bahia Drake has more access to the Pacific Ocean, it is harder to visit the Golfo Dulce. Another advantage for the Matapalo area from where day trips to observe whales & dolphins or snorkeling is very easy to arrange.
The Osa Peninsula is a great destination for families with older children (six and up) as it becomes a great learning and bonding experience to explore the lush rain forest, pristine beaches and wild waterfalls together. But it is also the perfect setting for an active honeymoon or romantic getaway that goes beyond sipping drinks by the pool – although that is also possible after a day of hiking and adventures.
Domestic flights on Sansa and Nature Air are available on a daily basis to Puerto Jimenez, Golfito or Bahia Drake. Most frequent flights year around are into Puerto Jimenez with up to 7 scheduled daily flights between 5:30 am and 4:30 pm.
If you made up your mind and want to visit the Osa Peninsula, we recommend two Cayuga Collection Properties that try to find the perfect symbiosis of Luxury and Sustainability. Lapa Rios Ecolodge is located south of Corcovado National park overlooking the Golfo Dulce and the Pacifi Ocean in a 1,000 acre private rain forest reserve. Kura Design Villas is located in Uvita and the perfect base to expore the north of the Osa Peninsula on day trips. Ideal would be to combine the two hotels as they are very different yet, very complimentary.