This little coastal village at the northern end of the South Pacific Region and just 1,2km south of the Hacienda Barú. the Dominical beach is long and is very popular among surfers despite its reputation of strong rip tides. If you walk up and down the village it is mostly surfers or language students you'll see in the streets and on the beach, but there are lots of other activities available in the area, from canopy tours, to visits to the nearby Ballena Nationl Park, horseback rides and nature hikes in the rainforest. If you want to see pictures of Playa Dominical click here.
This small village is on the Sierpe river almost 30 km from the Pacific Ocean, yet it has about a 3m difference between high and low tides. Boats to Bahía Drake can be hired here, and most of the lodges around Bahía Drake will arrange boat pick up in Sierpe for guests who plan to use their accommodations. Call the Pulpería Fenix 786-7311 if you get stuck. For pictures of the boat ride from Sierpe to Drake Bay click here.
Simply called 'Drake' locally. This area is rich in both 16th-century history and natural history. Sir Francis Drake himself supposedly visited the bay in march 1579 during his global circumnavigation in the Golden Hind, and there is a monument at Punta Agujitas to this effect. The bay is only a few kilometres north of Parque Nacional Corcovado, which can be visited from here, as can the Biological Reserve Caño Island. For pictures of Drake Bay click here.
Agujita is a small village on the bay with a grocery store, a public phone, a clinic, a school, and a couple of cabins. You can visit Agujitas, pick up a cola or beer, watch kitds coming home from school, and chat with the residents. Most people who visit tend to stay in their lodges, but locals enjoy talking with travellers, so stop by. A dance hall plays music on Saturday night.
Mosquitoes aren't much of a problem except in January - the first month of the drier season - when they hatch in standing pools of water. But they aren't so bad even then.
Its a four to seven hour walk along the coast from Bahía Drake to the San Pedrillo Ranger Station of the Corcovado National Park. Dropping tides are the best time for this hike. The route is usually easy to follow. Where the beach is cut off, look for and inland trail over or around the headland. If the trail appears to be overgrown, you're probably on the wrong one. Part of the Osa Conservation Area is the Corcovado National Park, with its great biological diversity. This 42,000 hectare large Park is in the southwestern corner of the Peninsula Osa. For more information click here.
Isla del Caño
The 326-hectare island is roughly 20 km west of Bahía Drake. The reserve is of interest to snorklers, divers, biologists, and archaeologists. About 5800 hectares of ocean are designated as part of the reserve.
Snorklers will find incredibly warm water (almost body temperature) and a good variety of marine life ranging from fish to sea cucumbers. The water is much clearer here than along the mainland coast (though not crystalline). Scuba-diving trips are arranged by the Bahía Drake area lodges - there are four dive sites with underwater rock formations, coral reefs, and abundant sea life. A tropical beach with an attractive rainforest backdrop provides sunbathing opportunities, and a trail lead inland, through an evergreen rainforest, to a ridge at about 110m above sea level. Camping is prohibited and there are no facilities. For more information click here.
A 78km road links the Interamericana at Chacarita with Puerto Jiménez. The road is half-way paved up to the village called Rincón but at this point (July 2005) in very bad conditions. (Calculate at least 2 hours for the distance and go only with a 4x4). With about 6100 inhabitants, Puerto Jiménez is the only town of any size on the peninsula Osa. Until the 1960s the peninsula was one of the most remote parts of Costa Rica with exuberant rainforests and a great variety of plants and animals. Then logging began here, and later gold was discovered, creating a minor gold rush and increased settlement. In the face of this, Corcovado national Park was created in 1975. Logging and gold mining go on around it, but within the parks boundaries, valuable, unique rainforest habitats are preserved. Puerto Jiménez also became an address not only for beach-lovers but for Sport Fishermen, since Crocodile Bay Lodge, a private resort specialized in Fishing Charters, opened its doors. For pictures of Puerto Jiménez click here.
This is the beginning of the road if you're departing from Corcovado, or the end of the road if you're coming from Puerto Jiménez. Access during rainy season is best by plane. One has to cross several rivers and if there is a day with heavy rain you might not be able to get through them by car during several days. From here one can hike to the La Leona Ranger Station in 1½ hours.
Golfito is named after a tiny gulf that emerges into the much larger Golfo Dulce, a large Pacific Ocean gulf just west of Panama. It's the most important port in the far southern part of Costa Rica, although its maritime importance has declined greatly in recent years. From 1938 to 1985 Golfito was the centre of a major banana-growing region, and for many years it was the headquarters of the United Fruit Company. However, a combination of declining foreign markets, rising Costa Rican export taxes, worker unrest, and banana diseases led to the closing of the United Fruit complex in 1985. Some of the plantations have since been turned to African palm-oil production.
In the late 1980s a small tourism industry began in the area, and it has since blossomed. The town is pleasantly situated, and visitors often stop by for a day or two in route to somewhere else. There are good surfing and swimming beaches nearby - Playa Cacao, across the little gulf is the closest. The town is surrounded by the steep hills of the Nacional Wildlife Refuge Golfito, with a splendid rainforest backdrop and good birding opportunities. There are a couple of good sport-fishing marinas.
In an attempt to boost the region's economy, Costa Rica built a duty-free facility in the northern part of Golfito, which lures Ticos from all over the country to Golfito on shopping sprees for Microwave ovens, refrigerators and TV-sets etc. but to do so they have to spend at least 24 hours in Golfito.
This beach is opposite Golfito, and the view of the bay, port and surrounding rainforest is worth the short boat ride out here. As for swimming, although it is cleaner than the polluted waters just off the town, the water isn't pristine. This is not the Golfo Dulce proper, and though efforts have been made to clean up trash, you're still near a dock visited by freighters.
This beach, on the south side of the mouth of the Coto Colorado river, about 15km south of Golfito, is a popular destination for locals, who claim that the 6km-long dark-sand beach has the best swimming in the area. The surf is gentle and at night the quiet water sometimes sparkles with bio-luminescence, tiny phosphorescent marine plants and plankton that light up if you sweep a hand through the water - the effect is like underwater fireflies, which is especially fabulous on a starry night. At the far south end, the waves get big enough for surfing; views all along the beach and out across the bay are beautiful. Many visitors end up hanging out here for a week or more.
Zancudo has become a Sport-Fishing destination. The largest Marina is managed by Roy's Zancudo Lodge. There is a beautiful mangrove in the area around the river mouth and everybody should take a boat-tour. There is lots of Flora and Fauna to explore, and for us it was the first tiem we could take some pictures of the Titi Monkeys, as they were feeding on the fruits of the Coyol Palm Tree. There are crocodiles sunbathing during low tide, and lots of birds. To see pictures of Playa Zancudo Beach click here.
About 15 km south of Zancudo is the Bahía de Pavón, which has some of the best surfing on the Pacific side of Central America. The name Pavones is used locally to refer to the area comprising both Playa Río Claro de Pavones, and 5km southeast, Punta Banco. There is little to do here except surf and hang out, which doesn't seem to pose any kind of problem for visitors.
The Beach at Pavones is is rockier and rougher than at Punta Banco, which is sandier and has fewer surfers. the best season is from April to October, when the waves are at their biggest and the famous long left can reportedly give a three-minute ride. Besides the regular surf cabins, little outside the village you'll find some beautiful places to stay like for instance the Tiskita Jungle Lodge or Casa Siempre Domingo, both little up the hill with a spectacular view over the ocean. For pictures of Pavones click here.
Part of the text and all Pictures by Jörn Malek. The team of 1-CostaRicaLink and Costa-Rica-Information-Mobile wishes you the best of times in our little paradise called Costa Rica.
Most of the text by Lonely Planet.
This Web-Site is managed by Angela Malek, Ciudad Colón, province of San José, CR-10701 Costa Rica, Central America.