Aug 25 2016

Our 12-Day Road Trip to Costa Rica’s Southern Zone: Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula

After a couple of days visiting friends in San Isidro de El General, we continued our Southern Zone Road Trip with a visit to Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. Drake Bay was named for Sir Francis Drake who, it is thought, voyaged here in the late 16th century. It is a great place for scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, bird watching, and hiking, especially in Corcovado National Park.
In the rainy season, you can’t drive all the way to Drake Bay due to flooding of some roads. The solution is to park in the town of Sierpe and hop on a boat, which travels down the Sierpe River into the Bay. Here is a video from the boat as we traveled down the Sierpe River to the Bay:

My best advice is to travel light if you visit Drake Bay! The boat makes a wet landing on the beach, so you step off the boat into the surf and carry your luggage onshore with the help of the crew.

Wet Landing at Drake Bay

Wet Landing at Drake Bay


Drake Bay

During our stay in Drake Bay, we took a day trip to Corcovado National Park where we hiked through the rain forest. And rain it did, for over half of the day, which limited our picture-taking. But we saw lots of birds and animals in their natural habitats — the most notable were all four species of monkeys — howler monkeys (locally called “congos”), spider monkeys, white-faced monkeys (Capuchin monkeys), and squirrel monkeys (locally called “titis”) — native to Costa Rica, the biggest tapir we’ve ever seen, and a pod of dolphins during the boat ride back to Drake Bay.

Hiking Through the Rainforest at Corcovado National Park

Hiking Through the Rainforest at Corcovado National Park

This was also the most expensive part of our road trip. For two of us to do the day trip to Corcovado National Park, the cost was $180 USD. And the hour-long boat ride itself can be challenging. You may, if you are lucky, have a seat back for the bumpy ride in open ocean. Or, like us, you may get a boat with only bench seats and no cushion. Ouch, our aching backs! The fee included the boat ride, a soggy bag lunch, plus a guided tour of the Park. To be honest, if you’ve experienced a lot of Costa Rica (like us), there may not be much new for you on the hike through Corcovado. But if you are fairly new to the country’s fauna and flora, it can be an incredible experience. One hint if you are planning to go: Be sure to bring or wear rubber boots as you often walk through tall grass, streams, and mud. And if you come during the rainy season, a rain slicker would also be a good idea.

CabinasPuraVida_DrakeBayWe had two priorities when booking a hotel in Drake Bay. First, it had to be inexpensive, and second, and more importantly, it had to have air conditioning! I do not do well in the heat. Cabinas Pura Vida fit the bill perfectly. We paid $142 for three nights, including taxes, so about $47/night. The location was quiet and a short walk from restaurants, convenience stores, and the beach. It was very clean and included access to the open-air kitchen and coffee throughout the day. We bought yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast each and stored them in the fridge, along with bottled water.

Would we return to Drake Bay? I think if we were both divers (Paul is, I’m not, and he didn’t want to go without me), the answer would be yes. But as it is, probably not. It’s just too hot and humid for me to really enjoy.

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