Living in Costa Rica and traveling extensively throughout the country, my Costa Rican wife and I visited Drake’s Bay, Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park in hopes of seeing the migrating Humpback Whales. We were not disappointed. This place is not to be missed.
Corcovado National Park is the crown jewel of Costa Rica’s’ extensive park system for a number of reasons.
1. Drake’s Bay is remote, inaccessible by land during the rainy season, and difficult to reach in the dry season. It is an adventure.
2. As such, tourists, making the wildlife more agreeable to being seen, do not overrun the area.
3. An adventure always has its drawbacks but you are far safer here than in areas, where tourists are considered an opportunity.
4. The beaches are pristine and virtually free of human life.
5. The village of Carate and the people welcome visitors because their livelihood depends on your visit.
We reached Drake’s Bay by boat on the Sierpe River then on the Pacific. On the river, we saw several crocodiles so the banks. It is a wet landing to access the town of Carate so bring sandals or your bare feet are fine. We stayed at Monolo’s. It was clean, cheap, the food was quite good and the garden-like surroundings were quiet. The walls are a little thin but the hammocks on our deck were comfortable. Checking out more expensive hotels we found that you will pay almost/more than twice the costs for natural juice drinks and food. If you have the bucks to throw away that's okay but Monolo's and near-by restaurants serve excellent food, provide good service and you save enough to spend more time visiting the real Costa Rica.
We went by boat on the Pacific Ocean to reach the farthest ranger station in the national park. The huge volcanic outcroppings made for a beautiful early morning passage. We encountered feeding dolphins then humpback whales and their calves. These 30-40 foot whales were awesome as they swam about 300 yards from our 22-foot boat. We saved the cost of an extra whale-watching trip by making the park visit our first stop. I thought about the snorkeling trip to Cano Island but ran out of time.
We landed and waded to shore. The volcanic shelf extends far out into the ocean and at low tide; you definitely need sandals to protect your feet.
Immediately the rainforest swallowed us. We went from bright sunshine to towering trees, monkeys and chattering birds. I strongly recommend hiking boots but you can get by with athletic shoes. We encountered three of the four species of monkeys that inhabit this park, peccaries, many varieties of the 370 species of exotic birds and a tapir, up close and personal. If you fail to be awed by the spectacular environment you must be a machine and not human.
The minimum I would suggest is three nights here. Unless you fly in, it takes a minimum 1/2 day of travel to reach here and another ½-day to return. You will want to experience the guided night walk, a full day in Corcovado, a day of walking the beaches to the south. This is a laid-back environment so enjoy Costa Rica like very few people have.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.