Should the Osa Peninsula Be Part of your Costa Rica Experience?

March 1, 2023

Everyone loves Costa Rica. Most travelers go for the beautiful resorts on the ocean, Arenal Volcano,  and to see the jungle; normally for about 1-2 weeks, and throughout their time walk a total of 4-8 hours on various jungle trails in common National Parks. 

 I’m writing to tell you about an entirely different experience that remains unknown to many… what I call: the other side of Costa Rica, the hidden gem of the Osa Peninsula. The southernmost part of the country, it’s the most remote and adventurous area of the country.

 I want to share these 4 things about the Osa that will help you decide if the journey is right for you: 

 1. Best place in Costa Rica to see wildlife: Talk about the Osa Peninsula with any Costa Rican, from anywhere in the country, and watch their faces light up. They know about the magic and wonders found here.

During my first visit to the Osa Peninsula, it took less than 24 hours for me to experience part of the magic found here. I woke up to the monster-sounding roars of the howler monkeys, saw the beautiful macaws flying in pairs, crossed streams and shallow rivers on a 4X4, saw troops of monkeys close overhead, heard the beautiful songs of different birds throughout the day, spotted a sloth with her baby, was entertained by the beautiful blue morpho butterflies dancing in and out of sight, and walked in the dark night with my guide to find vibrant snakes and frogs. 

If you don’t believe me OR the locals, believe National Geographic which calls the Osa Peninsula “biologically the most intense place on Earth.” 

2. Adventure and Relax – a destination for everyone: Where the ocean and jungle meet; you could relax on an endless secluded beach one day, and have the jungle adventure of your life the next. Based on your interests and desire for an adventure, there is a true-to-nature experience for all! Adventure travelers, nature enthusiasts, and families alike will all find the magic they came here for. 

  • Let's start with Accommodation:  Upon arriving in Puerto Jimenez, and your last night before departing, you’ll likely stay in a comfortable hotel in Puerto Jimenez. The in-between is your choice: ranging from hidden eco-lodges in the jungle, to local family homestays, to tent camping in the jungle or on the beach. 
  • Jungle & Ocean Adventures: From easy to difficult activities like day tours in the jungle, kayaking in the ocean with dolphins & whales, horseback riding on the beach and through the jungle, multi-day jungle expeditions, night walks, and seeing the unworldly avatar-like bioluminescence light up the ocean, there are adventures here for all ages, interests, and difficulty level. 
  • Community & Culture: Not only does the small local community in Puerto Jimenez welcome you with open arms, but there are many ways to experience the local and indigenous culture more hands-on. Learn how to fish the traditional way, visit an indigenous community deep in the jungle and learn about their history and current ways of life; take a culinary class where you will pick your own ingredients and learn how to prepare & cook the traditional way. If you really want to dive into the culture, do a homestay, where you will sleep at a local family's home in the jungle and use it as your home base for day tours. 
  • Relax: With so much to do, you’ll want to make sure you get time to unwind and take in your surroundings. I have two favorite ways to relax out here. The first one is unwinding at the ocean. With the tranquil water in front of you and the sounds of the jungle behind you, you’ll be in instant bliss and realize this is the Shangri La of the West. When deeper in the jungle, having a lazy day around your eco-lodge could be magical. Relax on-site in a chair or hammock, and be surprised by how many sounds you hear when you stop and truly pay attention. Need to stretch your legs? Most eco-lodges have trails close by, for short jungle walks. Be lazy deep in the jungle for a day, and count how many birds and monkeys you see or hear. 

No matter what you came to the Osa Peninsula for; adventure, culture, and/or to relax, you're guaranteed the jungle experience of a lifetime.  

3. People & Culture: When traveling, connecting with the local people & culture always enhances your overall experience. You’ll always return home a little wiser, with new perspectives and values.  

On my first visit to the Osa, I instantly felt the genuine warmth and welcoming spirit of the people. So much, so that I have developed a theory on how a local community could be so unique and special:

We have all seen someone show their pet dog or cat so much care and love. Oftentimes this translates into their overall demeanor and character. We commonly refer to them as ‘animal people.’ These are usually warm people with a love for animals and nature overall.

Not only do many people living in the Osa have pet dogs and cats, but they live amongst the 250,000 plant and animal species found in the jungle. This makes them the ultimate ‘animal people,’ translating into their warm welcome to visitors, and their genuine love for their people and land. Once you visit, you will see exactly what I mean!

4. Away from the crowds: I have always wondered why the Osa Peninsula is less traveled. Maybe because it’s an 8-hour drive from SJO airport? Perhaps it’s because the further south you drive, the familiarities start to disappear:  the resorts, big-name hotels, and tourist shops become less and less. 

Perfect! If you’re after the best jungle experience while traveling to Costa Rica, less people and more jungle are what you want! The farther south you drive, everything becomes noticeably more lush and green.  You immediately feel a sense of adventure and lust.  Welcome to the jungle!

Still don’t know if the Osa is where you want to go? Are you seeking a jungle adventure, relaxing on some of the most secluded beaches, and connecting with local people & culture? Do you want a slower and more laid-back vibe, away from the big cities and crowds?

Then the answer is YES! The remote Osa Peninsula is absolutely where you want to experience your Costa Rica jungle & ocean adventure! 

Written by: Mitch Kanter