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Costa Rica has no shortage of beautiful destinations. From the beaches along the Pacific Coast, and the jungle-clad Caribbean Coast, to volcano peaks, and cloud forests, there are many ways to get close to nature.

But our recent trip to the southern end of Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast has us convinced. Osa Peninsula is a destination that beats them all!

We think everyone should visit the Osa Peninsula Costa Rica at least once in their lifetime. These are the reasons why.

1. IT’S COSTA RICA’S MOST INTREPID CORNER

Getting to the Osa Peninsula is an adventure in an of itself. The region is located some 400km south of San Jose. Requiring a 6-hour car journey or a short, but nerve-wracking, propeller plane ride to one of its small regional airports. In the rainy season, the small dirt roads leading to Drake Bay and other small towns on the Peninsula are often impassable.

Osa Peninsula Costa Rica
Golfo Dulce,  Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

The trip works out to be just a bit too long and challenging for the average tourist, reserving the beauty of the Osa Peninsula Costa Rica only to those willing to go the extra mile.

Fewer tourists = less development = more animals, more untouched jungle, and a more authentic travel experienceIt’s worth spending a little extra research time to discover the best time to visit Costa Rica, especially with gems like the Osa Peninsula on your itinerary.

2. IT’S ONE OF THE MOST BIODIVERSE PLACES ON EARTH

Thanks to many miles of the unspoiled rainforest and the unique ecosystem that surrounds the peninsula, Osa is often regarded as one of the most environmentally rich and ecologically diverse places in the world.

Named by the National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on earth,”, this small patch of land that covers only 700 square miles, but is home to 2.5% of the biodiversity of the entire world.

Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

Over 100 species of reptiles and amphibians, over 300 species of birds, and over 120 species of mammals (many of them endemic) can be found in 13 major ecosystems, ranging from mangroves to beaches, and primary forests.

And while you can’t possibly see them all, the Naturalist Guides here will tell you that in just a few days on the peninsula, you can spot more wildlife than you would over the course of a few weeks in the Amazon.

Osa Peninsula Costa Rica

Baird's Tapir in Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Baird’s Tapir in Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula

3. YOU CAN TAKE A GLIMPSE INTO COSTA RICA’S PAST

What most people don’t know is that between 1930-1975, the small town of Puerto Jimenez, that today serves as a base for exploring Osa Peninsula, used to be gold-mining town, built to support the gold mining operations in the region.

Commercial mining operations dominated the region for almost 40 years, but along with prosperity to the mining community, they gave rise to deforestation and other negative impacts on the local wildlife and ecosystems.

In 1975, the area around the Osa Peninsula Costa Rica was declared a protected zone which banned mining in the region. Many miners left the region, but some remained, continuing to run artisanal mining operations for many years to come.

Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula

Today, the gold has run out and the rural communities that once relied on mining as a source of income, now run Gold Mining Tours (which you can book through Osa Wild) and welcome visitors to the former gold mining villages.

4. YOU CAN MAKE A POSITIVE IMPACT THROUGH RURAL TOURISM

It’s not just the gold miners that are benefiting from the rural tourism trend in Osa. In this remote region of Costa Rica, tourism has given many local families an opportunity to earn a living. Rural tours are offered all throughout the region, giving travelers an opportunity to experience Costa Rica through family farm and indigenous reserve visits, history, and medicinal plants talks, handcraft workshops and more, all putting their dollars back into the community.

Rio Tigre, the getaway to rural tourism in Osa Peninsula Costa Rica
Rio Tigre, the getaway to rural tourism in the Osa Peninsula

5. YOU CAN WITNESS A MODEL FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN ACTION

When it comes to Sustainable Tourism, Costa Rica is often regarded as a success story. Over the years, the country has proven the vast economic and environmental benefits that tourism can have on the country. If there is one place to see sustainability in action in Costa Rica, it’s the Osa Peninsula.

The Peninsula is home to an active community who are committed to sustainability and conservation efforts in the area. They work to support the protected areas, including Corcovado National Park (the star attraction of the region). Along with smaller reserves and local communities.

Osa Peninsula eco lodge view

Osa Peninsula Hotels and Tour Companies Commitment to Sustainability

But it’s not just the locals that play a role in ensuring a bright future for this biodiverse region, as travelers we do too, and here in Osa, in particular, our tourism dollars can make a big difference. Many Osa Peninsula hotels and tour companies here adhere to standards set out by the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism, so playing our role is easier here than anywhere else in Costa Rica.

Osa Peninsula Costa Rica eco lodge: Lapa Rios the leader in sustainable tourism in the area
Lapa Rios the leader in sustainable tourism in Osa Peninsula

Choose an Osa Peninsula Eco Lodge

The Osa Peninsula is home to the highest concentration of sustainable eco-lodges in Costa Rica. Places which offer an opportunity to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the region.

Consider an Osa Peninsula eco-lodge from the list below: 

Lapa Rios is considered the most sustainable hotel in Costa Rica and is part of the National Geographic unique lodges family. The luxurious lodge is close to Puerto Jimenez and set on 1000 acres of pristine beachfront rainforest. They offer beautiful modern rooms and great facilities to boot.

Osa Peninsula hotels: Lapa Rios
A room at the most sustainable hotel in Costa Rica- Lapa Rios. Photo by Lapa Rios.

Aguila del Osa is an Osa Peninsula ecolodge which combines environmentally friendly operations with community outreach. They are located in Drake Bay, one of the gateways to Corcovado National Park, and offer stylish accommodation just a minute from the beach.

Osa Peninsula eco lodge: Aguila de Osa
Airy room at Aguila de Osa in Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. Photo by Aguila de Osa.

Luna Lodge is located just 5km from Corcovado National Park but is a world unto itself. The Osa Peninsula eco-lodge has a spa and retreat center onsite and is surrounded by pristine tropical rainforest.

READ NEXT: Best Places To Stay In Costa Rica

Osa Peninsula eco lodge: An immersive room at Luna Lodge on the Osa Peninsula. Photo by Luna Lodge.
An immersive room at Luna Lodge on the Osa Peninsula. Photo by Luna Lodge.

BEFORE YOU GO: Don’t forget travel insurance!

We can’t stress enough the importance of travel insurance, especially in a country like Costa Rica. Whether you just plan to hang out on the beach, do a little bit of hiking, or go extreme (think surfing, scuba diving, or zip-lining), being protected on your travels is an irreplaceable peace of mind. We learned about the importance of travel insurance the hard way and now we never travel without coverage.

Get a quote through our recommended insurance provider, World Nomads.

What would motivate you to make a trip to Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica?

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Why visit Osa Peninsula

5 thoughts on “The Osa Peninsula Costa Rica: 5 Reasons Everyone Should Visit”

  1. Great post guys. I’m all in favour of sustainable tourism and its not too easy to come by in other parts of the world. We were thinking of hiring a car in San Jose and driving down, maybe stopping along the way on the coast. Is it a relatively easy drive? I.e. would you need a 4×4 in December? And if we needed to save time would you heed against night driving or is it pretty safe?

    1. So sorry for the late reply, Clare. The drive to Osa is easy all along a paved highway. If you want to base yourself in Puerto Jimenez, you should not need a 4×4, but making your way to Drake Bay will be tougher. There are 3-4 river crossings which were pretty low when we visited in late Feb, but the rivers might be higher in December, so 4×4 would be a good idea. Also, depends on your accommodation, some places are located away from town and would need 4×4 access, others don’t. So we recommend checking with your hotel to see what the best choice of vehicle would be for your trip.

      Night driving is ok, but be VERY careful. Watch out for locals on bikes with no lights, or locals walking on the side of the road, stray dogs, cows, etc. Take it slow and you’ll be fine. Have an awesome trip!

  2. hi dear fantastic couples
    ;o) also me and my wife will be in costarica in august. i don’t know if is better make arenal monteverde manuel antonio or go to jimenez and made corcovado drake bay uvita and manuel antonio. we have 13 days. some one tell us that in august more than you go in south more raining. wich is best itinerary? if i don’t want to book nothing is possible arrange there with local people? thank you very much

    1. Hello Angelo,
      Both itineraries you suggested are great, so it’s difficult to choose. You should choose Corcovado if you really want to see some animals and enjoy nature, as Osa Penninsula is a real gem of biodiversity. That itinerary is also more suitable if you love to hike and enjoy being active on your vacation.

      Itinerary with Arenal volcano is also nice, but it’s probably more relaxing than going to Corcovado. There isn’t as much hiking there, but there are lots of other activities: rafting, horseback riding, hot springs, etc.

      Rain wont affect you much in August. Rainy season gets really bad around October/November. It is possible to book activities when you arrive in each destination, so you dont have to book in advance, especially because you are looking to travel in the green season when it’s not very busy. Hope that helps!

  3. Hola! We have a great little top rated boutique hotel called The Alma de Ojochal. We are a perfect launching point for Corcovado here in the Osa Peninsula with a lot of local activities. Thank you for the post! – John & Janet

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