My family recently returned from a terrific spring break vacation in Costa Rica. We love to visit new places and so sometimes we run around a lot on vacations trying to do and see a lot in a short time. This time, however, we were determined to pick one destination and settle in. We selected the Osa Peninsula because our priorities were wildlife and beaches and avoiding crowds. The peninsula is located in the remote southwest of the country and is home to at least half of all species living in Costa Rica.
There are two main access points to the Osa Peninsula–Drake Bay on the Pacific Side and Puerto Jimenez on the Golfo Dulce. We chose the former because we wanted the closer access to Corcovado National Park. You can get to Drake Bay by driving 8 hours from San Jose or by flying into one of two nearby airstrips. We chose to fly into Palmar Sur which makes for a longer trip than flying directly to the Drake Bay airstrip but allowed us the opportunity to travel for about an hour by boat down the beautiful Sierpe River. The transition from the river out into the ocean was exciting and then we traveled south in calm waters to Las Caletas Lodge, our home base for the week.
Most lodges here are accessed from the sea and we were told to wear shorts and sandals since arrival meant a brief beach landing where two men held the boat steady while others grabbed our luggage as we jumped as gracefully as possible into the hopefully not too deep surf.
Las Caletas Lodge is a beautiful jungle lodge that sits just uphill from the beach. They have several cabins with private bathrooms and tent cabins that share communal facilities. The open air dining room and lawn face the ocean and have lots of great seating for reading and taking in the amazing view and plants and animals around you. Our cabin was a two level unit with 2 twin beds on the first floor and a double bed plus another twin upstairs and porches with awesome views on both levels. Breakfast and dinner were included with our room and the chef would prepare a box lunch if we were out exploring or we could order lunch at the lodge if we were around during the day. It didn’t have the air-conditioning and swimming pool of the beautiful Copa de Arbol right next door, but it suited our needs and budget perfectly.
We spent our days exploring the area on organized small tours or on our own. It was really hot so the days needed to start early…5:30 a.m. didn’t sound so great for breakfast our first morning but once you get used to going to bed at 8:00 p.m. it gets easy. Each day was a new adventure. Ours included: 2 day trips into Corcovado National Park where we saw crocodile, tapirs, coati, scarlet macaw and lots more awesome animals; a boat ride and snorkeling trip to Cano Island about 45 minutes off shore; horseback riding through the rainforest to a cool river for a swim; zip-lining in the rainforest canopy (much more fun than I had imagined!); and a fun canoe trip on a river that included a short hike to great water falls and deep pools for jumping in.
After mornings of adventures, our afternoons went like this….swim in the beautiful bay in front of our lodge, cold shower, parent mandated siesta (i.e. kids entertain themselves), swim again, cold shower number 2, make way to dining room for cold beer and to watch the sunset and animals from the grassy lawn before dinner and bed.
Our trip to the Osa Peninsula was both one of the most exciting and relaxing family vacations we have ever taken. We can’t wait for future visits to explore more of this beautiful and easy to travel country. Let me know if this sounds like a good trip for your family and I can help make it happen!