10 Reasons to love the Osa Peninsula

Far from the usual destinations, this peninsula has everything you’ve come to Costa Rica for!

There are just SO many reasons to love this green, lush Central American jewel of a country and it’s even harder to narrow it down to a favourite canton or province!

My love affair with Costa Rica began in 2009 with the first of many trips. At first guided with a small group of friends but soon I was back on my own criss crossing the country by public transport or friendly local. Fast forward to 2021 and I have officially spent over a year of solid time in the country visiting and living in all the areas..except Liberia lol
Off the beaten path adventure, gorgeous beaches and plentiful animal sightings everywhere are my dream and the Osa has fulfilled that and more. Read on for my top 10 reasons for voting Osa my favourite region in Costa Rica!

1. Wildlife

Costa Rica as a whole is a wildlife lovers dream. Nature and animals are protected for the most part here as the priceless things they are. The further you move from the bigger cities into the less populated outskirts and jungles, the wilder and more prolific wildlife sightings become! The Osa Peninsula and the  Corcovado National park that encompasses almost a 5th of the land is one of THE most bilodiverse spots on the entire planet!! A full 3% of the worlds species call this area home. Animals and plants. You are almost guaranteed to see something you’ve never even heard of!!   From monkeys to breath taking birds to big cats, Osa has it all and with a good guide you will have the opportunity to see them as well! Even without a guide, animal spotting is a huge high light of any trip with easy sightings of Scarlett MacCaws, Coati, Monkeys & more.

2. Abundance of Whales/ Dolphins

If abundant and varied aquatic life is makes your soul sing, Drake Bay is the place for you! Whales and Dolphins of many varieties visit this South Pacific oasis on their routes to and from other waters. The safe bay is a favourite of spotted dolphins by the thousands, humpback whales, rough-toothed dolphins and the critically endangered Bryde’s Whale. There are others that visit seasonally and make special appearances once in a blue moon like the Whale Shark!    There are a few tour operators that can take you out to see this natural spectacle but one of my favourite is with Sierra of Divine Dolphin. this long time resident of Drake and lover of the ocean can find dolphins or whales seemingly like magic.

3. Rugged, Beautiful & Empty Beaches

I’m not sure any place could make my favourite list without spectacular beaches! Costa Rica is blessed with two coasts of magical beaches..but not all are swim able or calm. Daily swimming and basking on pristine sands is a must have and Osa delivers with some of the most ruggedly beautiful beaches that are wonderful for families.  Don’t worry about the crowds either as these beaches see fewer visitors year round. Put Playa colorada, Playa San Josecito & Playa Platanares pn your list for safe swimming and bountiful wildlife viewing <3

4. Cano Island

A jewel in the ocean crown of Costa Rica, Canos island is teeming with life on land and most especially in water. Located a short boat ride away from Drake Bay, it is home to over 270 species of fish including six plus species of sharks! It is truly a magnificent sight to see so many different species swimming in an intact and healthy eco system! The island itself also has rare plants and so many seabirds including the rare blue footed booby. If you love snorkeling, Cocos island is only one of 2 spots I would recommend in the entire country for clear water and good viewing. A must do for any wildlife or photography enthusiast!

5. Off the usual Tourist trail

I’m all about authentic experiences and non “touristy” destinations. Being the only one of a handful of people on the main beach, spending time with locals and discovering new places. Costa Rica is a HUGE but small country, there is so much to see. Being farther from the international airports, Osa remains largely unexplored on most first or second trips here. There are more animals than people and huge swaths of primary forest and rivers begging to be explored without the crowds.More than worth the extra effort to experience magical things as they were meant to be.

6. Pirates & Treasure – A Rich Past

Who doesn’t love a great story? The longer I spent in Osa, the more amazing history was shared with me by the locals. Drake Bay was named after Sir Frances Drake. Pirate lore and stories have deep roots with several invasions of the area. Cocos island was their stronghold for many years and stories of buried treasure, gold and secrets make it worth spending time here   Everyone has a story!

7. Rivers & Waterfalls

The Osa is full of amazing rivers leading out either into the Golfe Dulce or Pacific Ocean. Each has its own wide range of inhabitants and suprises to excite any visitor, From River Claro known for its deep turquoise transparent waters, Rio Tigre with its wonderful wildlife viewing and gold panning experiences to Rio Ajuitas which you must swim across along the Drake Bay trail!! Some of my most memorable experiences were made in the rivers of the Osa.

Waterfalls can of varying sizes are allmost everywhere along the rivers! Los Planes has wonderful waterfalls with pools for your soaking pleasure after a hike! The waterfall close to San Pedrillo station is  higher and empties into the ocean..a wonderful swimming spot accessible by tour or walking the trail from Drake.

8. Exotic Fruit Heaven

You’ve never had fruit like the fresh, picked from the local trees goodness. The Osa is home to many WILD & cultivated exotic fruit trees or plants. I|t’s really quite mind boggling what you can find in the jungle! Fresh papaya, grenadilla, bananas, star fruit,  watermelon and  coconut are staples at any road side stand or store. The taste of the papaya with a hint of lime for breakfast with fresh eggs and toast is simple bliss.
Despite this..the BEST of the Osa and the HUGE variety of fruits that actually grow here are not appreciated by most local Costa Ricans and you have to go hunting!!

Jack fruit and Tamarind which grow wild for example are left to fall for the animals or with Tamarind, just for juice. It’s crazy! I did manage to discover a wonderful spot that grows over 75 fruits in a private eco farm. It’s a stop on all my packaged adventures…good food is for everyone!

9. Drake Bay Coastal Trail

The Drake Bay trail is an awesome natural trail that, for the most part follows the coast through 2 rivers, numerous beaches to Playa San Josecito and ultimately you may go as far as the Corcovado official border and the wonderful waterfall there!  The hike is on mostly flat JUNGLE terrain. Some can do it in 2.5 hours, but that someone is’t me 🙂 I like to take my time and marvel at all the giant trees, stop at the rivers and stare at monkeys for long spans of time. Wildlife viewing is almost guaranteed. Bring good shoes, light clothes and LOTS of water. Once you’ve reached San Josecito there is a restaurant at Life for Life hostel a bit further up the trail for some delicious food and refreshments. You can even choose to stay here overnight! Those that have energy left can keep going up the coast to the waterfall about 45 minutes further. There is no charge for enjoying this trail by yourself but I found having a great local guide helps you to spot 50% more wildlife THE best coastal hike of Costa Rica!

10. The People – Tico life

Experiences in a country  you are visiting are very much influenced by the people in that country. Ticos ( as Costa Ricans refer to themselves) are generally a very laid back, friendly people who enjoy seeing visitors. The locals who live in the Osa generally farm, fish and work in tourism. Life is simple with big importance on family & community. If you’re lucky, one of the locals you meet may invite you to share a meal or a drink along with stories and new friendships.

Enjoy life now – Book your Adventure !

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