Drake Bay, Costa Rica

Drake Bay, Costa Rica

Drake Bay, a small town on a hill by the beach in the Osa peninsula. It’s a very calm place and not touristy at all. There aren’t many souvenir shops and it’s not crowded by tourists. Here are some tourists though, people are coming to Drake Bay to visit the Corcovado national park and maybe do some boat tours. Most people here are real nature enthusiasts and you see many photographers.

I had only planned on staying here one day first and booked a hotel that seemed to be in the center of town on the hotel agency I booked through. But when I got to Drake Bay I realized it wasn’t at all. It was a little far from the center in a forest, and I really didn’t feel like staying there and going back and forth from there, especially in the dark. So I looked for another place in the center, and the place I found had a good restaurant and offered plenty of tours.

The first day in Drake Bay I had some time to visit the beach. In my opinion it wasn’t the most beautiful beach I’ve seen, but a good place to relax after a day of travel or hiking.

And so, after a couple of days of just transporting myself I finally had a full day somewhere. And the first thing I wanted to do was of course to visit the national park. Unfortunately the tour I wanted to do to Sirena ranger station was full. So I decided on the second best which was a snorkeling tour. The tours are pretty expensive here, I paid 75 dollars for a snorkeling tour.

Snorkeling tour to Cano Island

I woke up at 05.30 and wasn’t able to go back to sleep. So I got up and went to breakfast. This wasn’t included at the place I was staying but it was the most convenient to eat there rather than look for another place.
At 06.45 the tour was supposed to start. Around 06.55 we got picked up at the hotel and walked through the town til we found the tour company. Here we met up with people from other hotels and then continued down to the beach. We got on the boat and then a 45 minute boat tour began. It was actually really nice to sit on the boat just staring out at the ocean hoping to see dolphins.
I had my camera all prepared in case we would see any, and then suddenly there they were. They were a bit far away but still very cool to watch them jump out of the water.
We went to Cano Island and stopped just outside and began our first hour of snorkeling. There were plenty of fish but not any turtles that I really wanted to see. I love turtles! Up on the boat again some guys mentioned they had seen both turtles and sharks though, just my luck!
Then it was time for a break, so we boarded the island by the ranger station. Cano island is a protected island with both primary and secondary rainforest. You can’t go to the toilet, throw trash or even eat here. There are no mammals living here either.
It was then time for another snorkeling hour. I didn’t enjoy the first hour very much so I decided to stay in the boat. My mask didn’t fit that well and hurt my face too much. I told the guide though to scream if he saw any turtles and then I would jump in. I was joking a little, but it didn’t take long before he saw one and I just had to get in. The little rascal was hiding under a rock though and I could only see its fin sticking out from under it. The guide borrowed my camera and dived down and took a photo of him.
Well, I couldn’t get out of the water after that but continued to snorkel. And I actually liked this place a bit better, the reef was impressive but hard to get photos of.
At the end we saw three rays. And just as we were finished for the day I dipped my head in one last time only to see a shark. I told the others who were very happy I had stuck my head in the water just in time to see it. The guide told us it was a white reef shark.
No turtles, but I have never seen a shark before, so win on that!

On the way home we were all sitting watching out over the ocean hoping we’d see more dolphins. No luck this time though. However we did see more than one sea turtle by the surface.

When we were finished with the snorkeling it was time for lunch that was included in the tour. So we headed to Playa Josecito which is a beautiful small beach that either can be reached by boat or 3-5 hours of hiking from Drake Bay. I didn’t have time to do the walk but I have heard from others that it’s beautiful. Make sure to go here early in the morning and bring some lunch. If you don’t want to walk back again, ask at the place where you are staying if you can catch a boat back. They are very friendly and can organize a place on one of the tour boats for a ride back.

The guides prepared some good food under the palm trees and we enjoyed it in the shadows.

The tour was very well-organized and the guides professional. No chasing the dolphins and no touching the animals in the water. The only thing I can comment on was that they never said how long we were gonna stay for lunch. We stayed there pretty long but after lunch we all guessed we would go back. So you just sat there waiting while you could have explored the surroundings a little better.

Hiking Corcovado national park

So, finally. I arrived in Costa Rica on Tuesday night. And finally on Saturday it was time for the thing I had been waiting for and what made me go down to the Osa peninsula in the first place. And it’s not the easiest place to get to.

Corcovado is a national park that you only can access with a guide. From Drake bay the hotels work as a dealer to the guide companies. From here you can go on day tours to Sirena or San Pedrillo ranger station. The amount of visitors a day is limited though to protect the forest. To Sirena only 120 persons are allowed a day and 150 to San Pedrillo. You can also book private tours through other companies that are situated in a Drake bay or Puerto Jiménez. There are tours that lasts from 1-3 days.

Before I got to Costa Rica I was trying desperately to get a tour from one of the companies, it wasn’t that easy though to find a tour for yourself. If you are a big group travelling together I think you can book these tours in advance. If not, it’s easier to book a tour when you get to town. Make sure you have plenty of time there though as they can fill up.

 I chose to do the tour that goes to Sirena ranger station. At 5.45 in the morning we started to go down to the tourist centre with someone from our hotel. There we met up with people from other places and was handed a guide. We were six people in my group. We all went down to the beach for a boat ride. The boat takes 1,5 hours to Sirena. You have to dip your feet in the water both on boarding and leaving the boat. You get off the boat by the beach and reach a small tourist office…The tour started around 8.00 from Playa Sirena. The tour goes on a hiking path that is very easy walkable and very flat.

The first animal we saw was the Spider monkey. The guide said we would see plenty more of those since they are very common.  We then continued to the beach where we saw macaws. I think they are really beautiful but I had seen them everyday since I came to Costa Rica, so I wanted to see monkeys and other bigger animals.

And then suddenly a whole pack of squirrel monkeys started to come swinging in the trees. They are pretty small and are moving a lot so it was hard to get photos of them.

We went down to a small lake where the guide said we were gonna get a surprise. We all thought it was crocodiles. We had to cross the river to get to the other side and we saw the eyes of a crocodile sticking out from the water. The guide then told us to look into the small forest, and there we saw a giant tapir. That was the surprise, and it was very cool! Tapirs can get as long as 2 meters and weight up to 300 kg.

The hike took around 4 hours, but we were walking very slowly and stopped a lot to listen to the guide and look at the animals so the distance we walked wasn’t long at all. The guide didn’t only talk about the big animals, but also insects, reptiles, birds and trees.

I really liked the Howler monkeys that are the laziest animals that just sit around on the trees relaxing all day. The guide had a telescope that we could look in and also take photos through, that’s why there are black circles on some of my photos. 
 We saw an anteater in full activity walking between the trees. 
And what I had been waiting for, we actually got to see a sloth. I think that’s a really cool animal.
 Around 11.30 we arrived at Sirena Ranger station for lunch. The lunch was very good. We didn’t stay here long at all but continued to walk another way back to the beach.
This time we saw the crocodile on the shore of the lake.
And another one chilling out by the beach.
At 13.00 the boat came and it was time to go back. And then another 1,5 h ride on the boat back to Drake Bay.
I heard from people going to the San Pedrillo station that it is pretty much the same as the Sirena. Sirena is the most popular though. I thought we would see more animals, big animals. But I was really happy to see the tapir, I didn’t expect that, we were really close to it too. The sloth was awesome too, even though it was quite far away. All and all a very good day, good food, good guide and friendly group. I just wished I would have seen more monkeys 🙂 Also this tour was quite expensive, 85 dollars.



3 thoughts on “Drake Bay, Costa Rica”

  • Hi,

    Great blog, I enjoyed the photos too!

    I have a problem which you may be able to help with. My girlfriend has seen some videos on youtube of the journey from Sierpe to Drake Bay via boat. There are videos of boats going at full speed jumping over waves. She’s now very nervous about taking the boat, to the extent that she might not do it.

    Are you able to say how dangerous you think the boat trip is?

    Kind regards,
    Tim

    • Hi

      Thanks, happy you like it. 🙂
      I’m so sorry she’s nervous about it. When I was there I didn’t find it dangerous at all. I guess it all depends on the driver and how good he can handle the waves and how much waves there are. It’s only a small part of the boat tour that’s out on the open water though, the rest is inside the mangroves, I don’t think there will be much waves there. I’ve been on terrible boat trips in Thailand before and this was nothing like that. Hope she goes and has a great time! 🙂 And it was mandatory for life vests in the boat too.

      Best regards,
      Emilie

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