12 Fun Things To Do In Osa Peninsula

Perched between the Pacific Ocean, Drake Bay, and Golfo Dulce, the Osa Peninsula is a hidden treasure in Costa Rica. It’s far from the usual tourist spots, offering peace and quiet away from the busy crowds.

After arriving in San Jose, we avoided the long eight-hour drive and took a short 45-minute flight to Puerto Jimenez, the largest town on the peninsula. The flight was quick and filled with amazing views that I couldn’t stop photographing.

In this guide, we’ll explore 12 exciting things to do on the Osa Peninsula. From wandering through wildlife-packed national parks and surfing on untouched beaches to discovering local secrets, the Osa Peninsula is perfect for nature lovers looking for adventure and tranquillity.

Key Takeaways From This Article

Osa Peninsula is undoubtedly one of the most remote areas in Costa Rica. Unlike other Costa Rican regions, it has few luxury accommodation options. The peninsula is more suitable if you love nature and don’t jump at the sight of bugs. Here are my key takeaways on 12 things to do on the Osa Peninsula. 

  • Osa Peninsula is a surfer’s paradise due to its uncrowded beaches, ideal for beginners who won’t be intimidated by experienced surfers. 
  • National parks in the Osa Peninsula cover vast land and water bodies. La Amistad International Park has 479,000 acres. 
  • Some Costa Ricans believe that the Virgin Islands of the Osa Peninsula have “the pirate’s treasure.” 
  • The Osa Peninsula is ideal for inshore and offshore sports fishing. The fish species will depend on the months you are fishing. 

National Parks

Due to its varied ecosystems, the Osa Peninsula has abundant wildlife. It’s one of the world’s most diverse regions, hosting several national parks and wildlife reserves. 

Visit Corcovado National Park

Visit Corcovado National Park
Visit Corcovado National Park

 

The park covers half of the Peninsula and has the most diverse and prosperous tropical areas. It combines miles of primary and secondary rainforests, several beaches, and significant ecosystems. Corcovado is Costa Ricas largest national park

Corcovado National Park is home to the endangered puma and jaguar and is the second park in Costa Rica with the highest number of scarlet macaws. Four other monkey species live in this park. It is unsurprising to find peccaries, sloths, coati, tapirs, woodpeckers, and anteaters on land. Crocodiles and bull sharks live in the water places within the park. 

Visit Piedras Blancas National Park

Piedras Blancas National Park
Piedras Blancas National Park

The park has 30,000+ acres of primary and secondary forests. Piedras Blancas National Park is in Golfito, near La Gamba town, in the Puntarenas province of southern Costa Rica. It has impressive flora, fauna, and features such as gullies, lagoons, lakes, mangroves, and rivers. 

Several animals inhabit the park, including. 

Animals at Piedras Blancas National Park
Four monkey speciesToucans
OcelotPeccaries
JaguarBird species
Scarlet MacawsSnakes

Have Fun at La Amistad International Park 

La Amistad International Park is the largest, 479,000 acres, between Costa Rica and Panama. It protects several ecosystems, such as cloud forests and tropical lowland rainforests. I recommend getting a guide when visiting this park, as most parts remain unexplored. 

The park is home to all six big cats, 115 fish species, 300 reptiles and amphibians, 600 bird species, mammals, and numerous plant and insect species. The entrance fee is between $10 and $20. The park is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The Night Tour with Tracie, “The Bug Lady”

Join biologist Tracie (the bug lady) and Gianfranco Gomez on a two-hour trek to learn about night critters. The couple prefers tours with small groups, so make your reservations early. Exploration is in the rainforest in Drake Bay. 

The tour starts at 7.30 PM. Some of the animals you’ll learn about in this tour include.

  • Bats
  • Frogs
  • Spiders
  • Insects

Tracie explained that it’s easy to identify a specific species depending on how their eyes glow at night. Mammals have a bright orange glow, spiders have a green sparkle, and flecks of orange are mainly moths. 

Boating To The Islands

Cano Island is home to the Cano Island Biological Reserve. It is 300 meters long and has many coral reefs. A few animals live on the largely uninhabited island. December-April and July-October are the seasons for humpback whales, so be on the lookout for whales breaching on the island. 

The waters at Cano Island are deep and have rough currents, which are only ideal for experienced surfers. You cannot dock your boat or eat or use the bathroom facilities on the island. The only building on the island is the Ranger station. 

Another beautiful island you can explore is Violin, which is between Rio Sierpe and the South Pacific Coast. The island is famous for having the largest nugget of gold, discovered in 1970. The Costa Rican government now protects the area, and no one can mine gold there. 

Violin Island has a few bottomless caves, and a few people have disappeared as they search for the rumoured pirates’ treasure. 

Visiting Drake Bay

It is the starting point for Cano Island Biological Reserve and Corcovado National Park and is famous for surfing and snorkelling. Drake Bay is a small, remote village in the Osa Peninsula named after Sir Frances Drake, an early explorer. 

Drake Bay is surrounded by secluded beaches, coral reefs, and rainforests, making it ideal for outdoor adventures. Other activities around the bay include whale watching, fishing, kayaking, and scuba diving.

Explore the local restaurants to sample Costa Rican traditional cuisine. Drake Bay and Puerto Jimenez are the only places on the Osa Peninsula where you’ll likely have decent accommodation options. Here are the accommodation options at Drake Bay. 

Accommodation optionsFeatures
Guest HousesIt is a good option if you are a budget-conscious traveler who doesn’t need luxury.
The guest houses offer private rooms and shared facilities.
Vacation rentalsFor larger groups, you can get some good rental homes and villas.
They are a handful, though, so booking is necessary.
Eco-lodgesMainly small family-run lodges in rural settings.
They use sustainable practices such as compositing toilets, solar power, and rainwater collection.
Glamping tentsA few lodges offer luxurious glamping tents.
The tents have comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and outside decks.

 

Exploring Golfo Dulce

Sweet Gulf, the other name for Golfo Dulce, is on the east side of the Osa Peninsula. Golfo Dulce is among the only three Tropical fjords in the world. The gulf stretches for 50km, and access is through a 15km boat ride. It is the central meeting point for whales migrating from the southern and northern hemispheres. 

In addition to marine life, Golfo Dulce is ideal for swimming, fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, and sports anglers. Observing wildlife in the rainforest surrounding the Gulf and several rivers and mangroves flowing into the Gulf waters was a beautiful experience.  

Surfing

Osa Peninsula has some of the best surfing spots in Costa Rica. Experienced surfers say it’s a surfing paradise due to its uncrowded beaches. We had a great surfing experience during our recent surfing vacation in the following spots. 

  • Pan Dulce: I highly recommend this surf spot for beginners. It has slower and softer waves, and most surfing lessons occur here. 
  • Pavones has the second-longest left-hand wave in the world. I recommend it for more advanced surfers, but on some days, the shore can have beginner-friendly waves. 
  • Playa Matapalo is ideal for more experienced surfers. It has consistent and plenty of waves as the break faces the ocean. 
  • Punta Burica is the farthest and lies at the border between the Osa Peninsula and Panama. When the swell is right, its waves are more challenging than Pavone’s. 

Bird Watching

The Osa Peninsula has 400+ bird species. Tropical forests, mangroves, beaches, and marshes provide ideal bird habitats. National parks such as Piedras Blancas National Park and Corcovado National Park have hundreds of birds. Various eco-friendly birding resorts and lodges are also available. 

Ave Azul de la Osa is an aviculture compound licensed by the Costa Rican government to protect endangered bird species. It is in a beautiful 250-acre rainforest. To get to the bird sanctuary, you’ll need a four-wheel drive. 

Bird-watching is possible throughout the year. However, I highly recommend visiting from December to May, as there is less rainfall and you can spend more time in the field. Engaging an expert bird guide ensures that you see many bird species. 

Chocolate Makers

Costa Rica is one of the countries in Central America with the ideal soil and climate to grow cocoa. In the Osa Peninsula, various cacao farms conduct chocolate-making tours. You’ll learn the different stages of chocolate making. Cacao growing has been a significant activity among the Cabécar, Ngäbe, and Boruca tribes. 

You can visit any of the following farms for chocolate tours. 

    • Rancho Raices is in Puerto Jiménez and charges $50 for the tour—children under six years old enter for free. After the tour, you can pay an extra $10 per person for a traditional Costa Rican lunch. 
  • Osa Cacao Chocolate Factory is in Barrio Bonita Agujas, near Puerto Jimenez. You’ll learn the various stages of chocolate making and how to prepare chocolate treats. Lunch made on a traditional wood stove awaits you at the end of the tour. 
  • Finca Köbö is in the middle of a rainforest in the Osa Peninsula, 15 km from Puerto Jimenez. You learn about the chocolate-making process and enjoy a chocolate fondue at the end of the tour. 

Beach Hopping

Osa Peninsula is home to some of the most secluded beaches in Costa Rica. Here are some of the uncrowded beaches of the Osa Peninsula. 

  • Playa San Josecita is 6km south of Drake Bay. You’re likely to see sloths and monkeys in the trees overhead. The beach has a crescent shape and white sand. You can reach the beach by horse riding, taking a ferry ride, or hiking. 
    • Rincon de San Josecito is a few km from Playa San Josecito. It’s not big, only 1km long, and has palm trees. The ideal beach activity includes bird watching; you might be lucky to spot some raptors. 
    • Playa Cocalito in Drake Bay differs from the one in the Nicoya Peninsula. It’s a rocky beach with golden sand in a private cove with little vegetation. You’ll take about 45 minutes to hike from Drake Bay or hire a boat. 
  • Playa Platanares(Playa Preciosa) is 5km southeast of Puerto Jimenez. The mangroves near the beach make it an ideal spot for kayaking. Swimming, sunbathing, and bird-watching are also popular activities there. 

Cultural experience at Rancho Quemado 

It’s a small village 15km from Drake Bay, where you can experience rural living in a small community. You can stay for a few days to experience rural life. Staying at Rancho Quemado immerses you in the Costa Rican way of life while you learn more about its culture. 

Plan a tour to visit Finca Las Minas farm and hear a story highlighting the history of gold mining in Costa Rica. Learn about the gold mining methods and try panning for gold. However, the government of Costa Rica is trying to promote sustainable tourism to prevent the village from illegally mining gold. 

Through free government training, the community has embraced sustainable eco-tourism. They help to protect animals, plants, and birds and work to restore the rainforest. 

Turtle Nesting Sites

Hawksbill, Oliver Ridley, Leatherback, and Green turtles inhabit the shores of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. Each species has its nesting period, making it possible to observe sea turtles throughout the year. Golfo Dulce is the most popular area for nesting turtles in the Osa Peninsula. 

Local conservation groups organize most turtle nesting tours, as they know where to find them and how to observe them without harming the turtles. The turtle tours occur either early in the morning or late in the evening. The groups closely monitor Piro Beach, the endangered Olive Ridley turtle home. 

Sports Fishing

The Osa Peninsula has some great spots for inshore fishing. You’re likely to catch some roosterfish and snappers. However, roosterfish are now among the government-protected catch-and-release species. February and March are the best times to do inshore fishing at Osa Peninsula. 

If you prefer offshore fishing, be ready to wake up early. December through April is the best time to catch some offshore fish species. The dry weather attracts baitfish and other fish to the coastal waters. 

Inshore Fish SpeciesOffshore Fish Species
CongrioWahoo
TilefishMarlin
TarponSailfish
Barrel FishBigeye Tuna
GrouperAmberjack
African PompanoDorado
NeedlefishYellowfin Tuna

Conclusion

The distance from the major airports in Costa Rica might discourage most people from visiting the Osa Peninsula. However, I encourage you to visit Osa, which has some of the most beautiful places. 

Which activities in the Osa Peninsula are your favorite? Please share your experiences.

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About 

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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