|Osa Peninsula & South Pacific Region|
|Costa Rica - Destinations in Costa Rica|
Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula & South Pacific
Lush primary rain forests merge with mountainous terrain and isolated beaches and create a complex system of freshwater and marine ecosystems offering shelter to much of Costa Rica's and the world's biodiversity.
The Osa Peninsula's patchwork of greenery houses some of Costa Rica's most endangered plant and animal species and is considered one of the most biologically intense places on earth.
It encompasses the southwest portion of Costa Rica and is bound on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by the Gulfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf).
The southern region, and the Osa Peninsula in particular, is one of the least developed areas of Costa Rica. More than eighty percent of the Peninsula is protected by Corcovado National Park and other reserves. The few small towns that do exist on the Osa Peninsula are reached by boat, plane or precarious roads that are often impassible during the wet season, and rough, at best, during the dry.
The remoteness and the pure, simple beauty of the Osa Peninsula make it a place worth visiting. It is not for the unadventurous traveler as even the nicest hotels, are on the rustic side.
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Cities & Towns in the South Pacific
Unspoiled beaches bordered by virgin rain forests shelter several small towns where small locally owned and operated hotels invite tourists for a real taste of all that Costa Rica has to offer.
Situated on the western shore of the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay offers the adventurous traveler a truly unique opportunity to experience the beauty of 'untouched' Costa Rica. Branded the northern gateway to Corcovado, is a wildlife watching haven for nature lovers and eco-tourists. Quaint eco-lodges and rustically luxurious hotels are hidden amongst the vegetation of this mellow coastal town. Corcovado National Park and Cano Island are just one hour away by boat and the year-round warm waters near Drake are well known for dolphin and whale sightings, not to mention some of the best mainland diving in Costa Rica.
Spring-fed rivers, waterfalls, forest trails and some of the best bird watching in all of Costa Rica are featured in the still pristine Drake’s Bay. Local activities include world class sport fishing, hiking, diving, snorkeling, canopy tours and guided nature and wildlife tours.
Drake Bay (aka Agujitas) is a little challenging to get to as it is accessed only by one dirt road, airplane or boat taxi from nearby Sierpe. It is well worth the journey if bird watching, snorkeling or diving, hiking or just plain old relaxing in a jungle lodge appeal to you. It truly is a nature lovers paradise.
Puerto Jimenez is a small coastal town on the Sweet Gulf (Golfo Dulce) on the east side of the Osa Peninsula. Well known for fishing and its nearby jungle lodges, the town's rather well developed center is full of restaurants, small hotels and shops. It is a pleasant mix of tourism and local culture.
The Golfo Dulce is a hidden gem in Costa Rica, ringed by secluded beaches and dense forests which house much of the biodiversity of this region. The tropical rain forest has abundant hiking trails, where one may encounter four species of monkey (spider, white-faced, squirrel and howler), poison dart frogs, morpho butterflies, anteaters, agoutis, coati mundis, jaguars, ocelots and margays.
The southern boundary of Corcovado National park is about two hours (or three depending on the condition of the road) away by land, so tourists in search of anteaters, monkeys and gold might want to put Puerto Jimenez on their agenda. There are also several surf breaks located south of Puerto Jimenez, the most well known being Cabo Matapalo.
Puerto Jimenez is the perfect destination for nature lovers, for those seeking true adventure and those who want the peace and tranquility of an undiscovered paradise.
Pavones is a tranquil and remote small surf town on the south Pacific coast of Costa Rica just eight miles from the border of Panama. It is literally the end of the road in Costa Rica. With most of the surrounding jungles intact, the town offers a few hotels, several small cabinas and restaurants and several surf shops. Most hotels and cabinas have no more than 4 rooms, and these rooms can be hard to get when the surf’s up. Camping is allowed on the beach if you have a tent and don’t leave trash.
This is a surf town that waxes and wanes with the waves, as it is known to surfers around the globe as the longest left point break in the world, allowing a surfer to ride a single wave for up to a mile! The town fills up, including every available hammock and tiny cabina when the swell comes in. The great thing about the surf is that at its inception point, the waves are big and often Hawaiian style (big and tubular), but as they break further down the shore, they get smaller and gentler, making it the perfect place to learn to surf too. You can pick your spot no matter your level of experience.
Another surf town located on the northern tip of this southern zone, Dominical is a hip and popular destination with young travelers and the surrounding area is home to many upscale residential developments where expats from several countries now reside. The nearby towns of Uvita, Ballena, Tortuga and Ojochal offer a variety of restaurants and shops, along with a few hotels.
Other Towns in the South Pacific Region
Quaint small towns like Sierpe and San Gerardo de Dota are the perfect destinations for those seeking off-the-beaten-path kinds of places. Each offers its own unique attraction.
Sierpe - the mainland gateway to Drake Bay and Corcovado. It is often overlooked as just a place to park your car and catch a boat out to Drake Bay, but it does indeed offer the curious traveler some interesting options like the stone spheres and mangrove tours. Fishing (both river and ocean) are very affordable as are accommodations. For the traveler looking to mingle a little with the locals and enjoy the slow pace of a small town, Sierpe is a great option.
San Gerardo de Dota - Up in the cool cloud forests of the southern mountains, San Gerardo de Dota is not what you typically think of when you think of Costa Rica. But after a few days in the heat and humidity of the beach towns, this high mountain retreat lends a welcome break from the sweaty temperatures. Cabinas with fireplaces and cold mountain streams flowing int he background make for a relaxing vacation. Fresh water fishing and hiking to waterfalls while looking out for the elusive quetzal are unique to this area. The cloud forests here are the only place in the world where the quetzal can be spotted year round, making this spot extremely popular with bird watchers.
National Parks & Reserves
More than eighty percent of the Osa Peninsula is protected by the Corcovado National Park and other reserves.
Corcovado National Park
The main natural attraction of the Osa Peninsula is Corcovado National Park. Referred to as the Amazon of Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park is located on one of the richest and most diverse tropical areas on the planet!
This 108,022 acre park contains some of the tallest rain forest canopy due to the abundant rainfall and low elevations. It is home to some of the world's most endangered plant and animal species such as the titi monkey, tapir, jaguar and scarlet macaw.
Corcovado is one of the last remaining sizable lowland tropical forests on earth and it contains the largest acreage of primary forest left in the Americas. There are 13 distinct vegetation types in Corcovado supporting more than 25 distinct ecosystems.
Simply put, it is one of the most important natural preserves in the Americas.
Read More about Corcovado National Park
Twelve miles offshore from Drake Bay is Caño Island, where the year-round warm and usually clear waters make it a popular day trip for divers and snorkelers. This island is also of major archaeological importance since it was used as a cemetery in pre-Colombian times and some of Central America’s mysterious stone spheres can be found here. The waters surrounding the island are extremely rich in marine life and the area is also well known for year-round dolphin and whale sightings.
Other Important Parks & Reserves in the South Pacific Region
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|Last Updated on Monday, 12 October 2009 17:45|