Landing by boat at the Osa Peninsula is the closest experience to a Christopher Columbus moment. Verdant forests reach down to deserted coasts, with jungle behind home to monkeys, jaguars and colourful birds like toucans. Now, instead of uncontacted tribes, friendly locals and guides willing to share their knowledge of the biodiversity. Take a dugout canoe ride into the mangrove swamps, home to alligators and herons. Today the Pacific Peninsula remains Costa Rica’s last frontier and are mostly protected reserves. Driving from San Jose can take up to 8 hours, but there are flights to Puerto Jiménez or nearby Golfito. Some places require an additional boat transfer. Best times are December to May when it is dry. Even the wet or ‘green’ season has its benefits, the coastal jungle comes alive…

The most pristine rainforest lies in the Corcovado National Park, which can be reached by boat from Drake Bay. Home to scarlet macaws and squirrel monkeys. Howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, toucans, parrots, coatis, agoutis, collared peccaries, tyras and even tapirs are also found. The Osa is also home to seven species of wild cat including Puma, Jaguarundi and Ocelot. These are often seen by camera traps.

Corcovado Park hosts the largest tree in Central America, a giant Silk Cotton tree, Ceiba pentandra, 77 meters tall. The journey into the most dramatic area of the park, La Sirena Ranger Station, can be punishing. We recommend flying into La Sirena for a one-day journey in and out. Alternatively, from Puerto Jimenez airstrip, the ranger station is a 10-minute light aircraft flight over the virgin rainforest. For the adventurous, take a taxi to Carate, at the edge of the park, and walk 4 km to the park entrance.

For superb snorkelling or diving try Caño Island in the Pacific. The boat journey there from Drake can be an adventure itself, with sightings of humpbacked whales and bottle-nosed dolphins. You can also see dolphins in the Golfo Dulce area to the east of the peninsula. Around the Gulf and the peninsula are hidden bays where hotels and lodges bask in glorious temperatures all year round. We recommend staying at El Remanso or Lapa Rios.

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