Puerto Jimenez is a small town located on the Osa Peninsula in the South Pacific tip of Costa Rica. It was built as a mining town back in the 1930s when the Osa Peninsula became the hub of Costa Rica’s gold mining and logging operations. It flourished for about 40 years, but as the gold deposits subsided, so did the town’s population.
Today, Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica and its surrounding area are a protected habitat. In fact, the town of Puerto Jimenez serves as the main gateway to Corcovado National Park, the primary attraction of Osa Peninsula.
Like many others, we came to Puerto Jimenez to tour Corcovado but were pleasantly surprised to discover an array of other activities and tours in the area. These were some of our favourites!
Best Things to Do in Puerto Jiménez
Kayak in the Mangroves
The Osa Peninsula is home to 13 major ecosystems, including lowland rainforests, highland cloud forests, palm forests, mangrove swamps, as well as coastal marine and beach habitats.
And while it is tough to see them all, the ability to take a kayak through the mangroves swamps of Golfo Dulce and explore this part of the peninsula is an experience open to all.
We set off on our kayaking trip with Aventura Tropicales in the late afternoon and were immediately transported into what felt like an episode of BBC’s Planet Earth. Dozens of species of birds were chirping along the shore as we paddled deeper and deeper into the mangroves.
The tour took us through the mangrove estuaries along the Rio Platanares delta in the Preciosa Platanares Wild Life Refuge and finished with some sea kayaking in the Golfo Dulce.
Golfo Dulce, which means “sweet gulf,” is also an amazing place for sport fishing. Those looking for an angling adventure can fish for marlin, sailfish, roosterfish, and cubera snappers.
Depending on the time of your visit, you may also be lucky to spot lots of marine life while kayaking in the Golfo Dulce. Huge pods of dolphins, sea turtles, and whales are just some of the animals you’ll see swimming in the calm waters. Whale watching season runs from August to October, as humpbacks migrate to warmer waters.
READ NEXT: Best Time to go to Costa Rica
Go Bird Watching
Bird watching enthusiasts will find Osa Peninsula to be paradise on earth. There are over 300 species of birds in the Osa Peninsula and bird watching tours can be arranged through any tour agency in town.
We recommend reaching out to Royer from Ficus Tours. Royer is a naturalist guide with a real passion for bird watching who managed to spot dozens of unique birds while leading us on a trek in El Tigre.
But the best part about bird watching around Puerto Jimenez Costa Rica is that you don’t have to arrange a special tour to enjoy the beautiful birds in the area. You’ll spot them while kayaking, hiking, or hanging out on the beach, or while relaxing on the balcony of your hotel room.
Go on a Night Tour
As night falls, the rivers and jungles surrounding Puerto Jimenez come alive with frogs, reptiles, and nocturnal animals. We didn’t expect to see much during our nighttime tour near El Tigre, but it ended up being an incredibly fascinating 3-4 hours. We spotted dozens of frogs, including all 3 of Costa Rica’s poisonous frogs, plus numerous spiders, lizards, and even a pretty cool snake.
It didn’t take us long to learn that hiking the trails at night offers you a completely different experience from exploring them during the day. We were so glad to have added this tour to our trip!
Visit Corcovado National Park and Go Hiking
Corcovado National Park is by far the star attraction of Osa Peninsula and the main reason why more and more travelers are choosing to make their way to this remote corner of Costa Rica.
We definitely recommend that you visit Corcovado National Park! It’s been coined one of “the most biologically intense places on Earth” by National Geographic and they certainly aren’t lying. It’s one of Costa Rica’s best national parks for wildlife viewing and unspoiled wilderness.
We hiked a fair bit in the park and highly recommend a visit to the Sirena Ranger Station and if time permits, an overnight stay in San Pedrillo. Sirena and La Leona are the easiest ranger stations to access from Puerto Jimenez but you can arrange tours to explore the whole park.
Enjoy the Beaches
While the majority of activities in Osa Peninsula involve hiking boots and bug spray, there is an argument to be made for spending a few days enjoying Osa’s numerous beaches. We spent a few lovely days enjoying the secluded beach, Playa Platanares, just outside of the Agua Dulce Resort where we stayed for a few nights during our visit. Playa Colorado and Playa Pan Dulce are other beaches in the area and a great place to relax.
READ NEXT: Best Beaches In Costa Rica
Visit a Rural Farm
Rural Tourism plays a big role in the economic development of Osa Peninsula. Since 80% of the Peninsula is now designated as protected land, the opportunities for farming here are few and far between.
But thanks to organizations like Caminos de Osa and Osa Wild, rural tourism projects have helped dozens of local families to develop farm stay projects with a focus on nature exploration, local cuisine, and rural lifestyle.
If you haven’t had a chance to connect with locals during your time in Costa Rica, visiting a rural farm is an excellent way to not only give back to the local community but also to learn more about the Costa Rican way of life.
Join a Gold Digging Tour
Learn the history of gold mining in Puerto Jimenez Costa Rica on a gold-digging tour of the area. Whether you only have a few hours to spare or you have multiple days to dedicate to learning about the gold mining culture in Osa, it’s a fascinating part of the history of this region that you can’t miss. Tours are available year-round and can usually be arranged through your hotel.
Essential Travel Info For Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica
Getting To Puerto Jimenez
Puerto Jimenez is easily accessible by car via the new Pacific highway that runs from Punta Arenas to Palmar Norte. The road is paved the entire way so you don’t need a 4×4 to get there. The drive takes about 6 hours.
Local buses also operate along that route, but the journey from San Jose takes closer to 10-11 hours. Check The Bus Schedule for exact dates and times.
If you are short on time, consider flying. There is a tiny domestic airport in town serviced by the local airline Sansa and Nature Air. One-way tickets cost under $100.
If you’re heading to Puerto Jiménez specifically to spend time at Corcovado National Park, most people fly into town or into Drake Bay. Puerto Jiménez has great access to the southern ranger stations while Drake Bay is closer to the northern entrances.
Getting Around Puerto Jiménez
The town is small and easy to get around on foot. Most tour operators will pick up travelers in town, so you won’t need a car to get to any of the excursions. However, if you are looking to explore a bit farther, stay in a more remote hotel, or check out Playa Platanares, you’ll need a vehicle to get around. You can easily arrange a rental car at the Puerto Jiménez airport.
For more Costa Rica travel tips click here.
Best Places to Stay: Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica Hotels
Lapa Rios Lodge
Lapa Rios is considered one of the most sustainable hotels in Costa Rica and is part of the National Geographic unique lodges family. The lodge is set on 1000 acres of pristine beachfront rainforest. They offer beautiful modern rooms and great facilities while emphasizing sustainability in everything they do.
Nightly rates are a little pricey but follow suit for being one of the best hotels in Puerto Jimenez. Villas start at USD $575 per night with all-inclusive packages starting at USD $1,150 per person per night.
READ NEXT: 10 Best Eco Lodges In Costa Rica
Ojo del Mar Ecolodge
Ojo del Mar was built and operates in such a way to have a minimal environmental impact. Nestled within the jungle, Ojo del Mar offers clean, well-equipped rooms and a plethora of activities including daily yoga classes.
Visitors can enjoy the peaceful location among the trees near Playa Sombrero for USD $150 per night.
Chosa Manglar Nature Hotel
The Chosa Manglar Nature Hotel is conveniently located right in the town of Puerto Jiménez. From here, you can easily catch the ferry to Golfito and enjoy the area’s beaches. Chosa Manglar uses 100% renewable energy and offers several tours led by local guides. It’s a great pick if you’re travelling on a budget with rooms starting at USD $70 per night.
Best Restaurants in Puerto Jimenez
A breakfast favourite, Cafeteria Monka serves up amazing smoothies, coffee, and breakfast burritos. The dishes are very reasonably priced and the outdoor patio offers lovely views of town. Plus, they have delicious vegan and vegetarian options!
If you’ve ever wanted to eat wood-fired pizza in the middle of the jungle, this is the place! Pizzamail.it makes fresh pizzas with many different topping options right beneath the forest canopy. You can chow down on a tasty thin-crust pizza as scarlet macaws soar above you.
La Perla de Osa
Part of the Iguana Lodge, La Perla de Osa is a beachside grill with great eats and even better cocktails. All of the tropical drinks pair perfectly with fresh fish tacos, avocado salads, and homemade coffee ice cream. Head to La Perla on a Tuesday to join the beach barbecue after a sunny day at Playa Platanares.
For waterfront dining and cocktails, Los Delfines offers delicious local seafood right at the edge of town. The restaurant is beside the main pier with beautiful views of passing boats and sometimes even dolphin watching. Grab a cocktail and a plate of ceviche as the sun sets over the gulf.
Have you visited Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica? What was the highlight of your trip?
Disclaimer: Big thanks to Agua Dulce Resort for hosting us during our time in Puerto Jimenez. Opinions expressed in this article are our own and have in no way been influenced by the Agua Dulce Hotel.