Cabo Matapalo

Cabo Matapalo is located in the Southern Pacific area of Costa Rica. Cabo Matapalo sits on the tip of the Osa Peninsula. This region is part of a lush, tropical area of the Costa Rican provinces. It is a paradise, hidden from the world in a complex matte of jungle and ocean. It is famous for its great surfing harbors its close proximity to the Corcovado National Park. It is also known for the large variety of exotic creatures that live in its jungles, from the Howler monkeys to the macaws that can be seen flying above the shoreline.

What makes Cabo Matapalo so unique is its seclusion from the rest of Costa Rica. Visiting Matapalo is like visiting a deserted island, untouched and well-preserved. The flora and the fauna are totally indigenous to the island, making it a must-see for anybody who appreciates the touches of mother nature.

Cabo Matapalo, Costa RicaThe climate of the island is generally at a tropical temperature all year long. The reason is because Costa Rica is so close to the equator, making it a very warm and humid place. This, in turn, makes it the ideal place for tropical plants to flourish. The seasons, like many other tropical locations in the world, are determined by the amount of rainfall that the island receives. The ‘rainy season,’ the ‘dry season,’ and so forth are what comprise the seasons here.

Interestingly enough, a province that is so naturally beautiful does not tout tourism as its main economic support. Instead, it relies heavily on pharmaceuticals, software development and to some degree, ecotourism. However, they do produce three main ‘cash crops.’ These crops are pineapple, bananas and coffee. Coffee production, as in Hawaii and other major tropical islands and provinces, has played a big part in the history of settlement. Matapalo’s time zone matches that of the Central United States.

Tourists who visit Cabo Matapalo come to surf the fantastic waves and catch glimpses of the exotic wildlife that lives in its lush jungles. There is a huge ecotourism rate in Cabo Matapalo, and all of Costa Rica, for that matter. One of the main attractions that is nearby Cabo Matapalo is the Paos Volcanic Crater. The crater is massive and now holds a large lake. Cabo Matapalo is part of Costa Rica, which means it contains about 5% of the world’s biodiversity. They are one of the only places in the world where they have managed to lower the percentage of deforestation to nearly zero.

Corcovado is extremely close to Cabo Matapalo. It is famous, as well, for its vast array of flora and wildlife, including big cats, tapirs, mantled howlers, spider monkeys, turtles, reptiles, sloths, many exotic birds and amphibians.

Cano Island

When one travels to Costa Rica, one should leave enough time to visit a special area there. This is Cano Island, which lies 12 miles off the western coast of Costa Rica in the Pacific Ocean. This beautiful island came into being approximately 40 to 50 million years ago, due to tectonic plates shifting beneath the sea. In 1978, Cano Island was designated as a Biological Reserve to help preserve the natural resources as well as the historic resources there.

Those who have been to Cano Island describe it as a large emerald in the blue sea. The cliffs edging the island end at the white sand beaches. There are many sites to explore on the island, as well as in the water surrounding it.

Cano Island, Southern Pacific, Costa RicaMany historical aspects of Cano Island are evident when one is exploring its surface. Scientists have discovered that this area used to be an Indian cemetery. They have found artifacts, pottery and sphere-like stone items near some of these burial sites. Many hiking trails lead to Indian burial sites on the island, and this is one reason why the island has become a biological reserve.

The Tropical Rain Forest covers most the land area with approximately 158 different types of trees, plants and ferns. Birds migrating to warmer areas from the north often visit this island. Although there is not a large amount of wildlife on the island, some of the common animals include bats, snakes, lizards and a small number of insects.

Although following the trails of Cano Island can lead one to many interesting sites, the true beauty of this island lies in the sea surrounding it. This area is known as one of the best in the world for swimming, snorkeling and diving. The water is a sparkling, clear blue background for various types of coral reefs, as well as other underwater fauna and flora existing here. Seven dive sites are available for the visitor to explore, including underwater caves and cliffs.

When diving, one will have the opportunity to view many animals in their natural habitat. Closer to the coral reefs, colorful fish, sponges and moray eels make their homes. A little further off shore one will find the larger marine life including dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles and sharks, just to name a few. At various times, one can view pilot and humpback whales swimming along with the other sea creatures in the area.

A trip To Cano Island is one that a visitor will remembered for a long time. By walking among the ancient graves and artifacts of the Indians buried there, one can take a step backwards in time to a completely different world. For those who are more interested in the wildlife, especially the sea life, there is nothing better than to swim with the aquatic inhabitants of the waters surrounding Cano Island. Whether one loves the land, the sea or both, he/she cannot go wrong by setting their sights on the Cano Biological Reserve on Cano Island, Costa Rica.

Getting to Cano Island visitors to Costa Rica have several departure options. From Drake Bay, a 40 minute boat ride. Farther up on the Osa Peninsula from the town of Sierpe the boat ride is about 1 1/2 hours. Farther up the Southern Pacific Coast visitors can take a 2 hour boat ride from Utiva and Dominical. And at Manuel Antonio and Quepos area it will take a 3 hour ride to get to Cano Island.

Southern Pacific/Osa Peninsula

Costa Rica’s southwestern shoreline extending from Dominical south to the Panama border is called the Southern Pacific and Osa Peninsula region. Rain soaked, humid and one of the most picturesque the Southern Pacific and Osa Peninsula region is sparsely uninhabited and some of the most remote sections of all of Costa Rica. From the steep mountains of the Fila Costena mountain range rising from the Pacific below, to the largest stretch of primitive rain forest found anywhere throughout Central America. The Southern Pacific region, with over 200 inches of rain a year, is known as one of the most biologically different and stunning locations in the world.

Ojochal Playa Ventanas Playa Dominical Manuel Antonio National Park

Osa Peninsula, Costa RicaUnlike other parts of Costa Rica, the Southern Pacific region has a rainy season lasting from April till December, yet the area still receives rain through out the months of January to March.

Traveling south along the Pan American highway from Dominical is Marino Ballena  National Park, named after the Humpback Wales that migrate to the area during the months of December till April. Farther south is the Bahia de Coronado with the beaches of Utiva, Playa Ventanas and Playa Tortuga also referred to by the locals as Ojochal. Miles and miles of long white sand beaches give way to the occasional coves with rock strewn beaches and lush tropical forest cascading into the Pacific waters. Swinging farther west, the Bahia de Coronado follows the shore line of the Valle de Diquisa, a large flat plain bisected by rivers and estuaries. To the north of the Valle de Diquisa are the towns of Palmer Norte and Palmer Sur, and to the south the large Peninsula de Osa.

Corcovado National Park with its large rainforest and its abundance of wildlife makes this area popular with the ecological minded tourist. The Oso Peninsula wraps around back to the north forming the Golfo Dulce. Continuing farther south along the Pan American highway the land gives way to the Valle de Coto Colorado. Large banana plantations extend through the two valleys from Palmer Norte south to Golfito. Farther south the region gives way to more tropical rain forest and the remote Peninsula Burica that Costa Rica shares with Panama.

The Southern Pacific region also is home to the isolated and volcanic Coco Islands and the Coco Island national Park, located some 300 miles southwest of the Osa Peninsula, the islands are a must see destination for scuba divers. Large and diversified marine species and schools of sharks, dolphins and sea rays make this a diver’s paradise.

Palmar Sur

Palmar Sur lies in the Osa region of Southern Pacific Costa Rica. It is a small river town located next to the town of Palmar Norte and separated from it by the Rio Terraba. It is most easily reached by a domestic flight from the Juan Santamaria Airport. Palmar Sur has a regional airport and is scheduled to change and expand soon to an international airport .

Palmar Sur is on the delta of the Sierpe River and is an important river port. It is also home to one of the largest mangrove swamps on the planet. Its charm and abundant wildlife make Palmar Sur a natural stop for a day tour. It is also a jumping off point for further exploration into the more southern areas of the Osa region of Costa Rica. The town has good riverside restaurants and several hotels.

Rio Sierpe, Palmar Sur, Costa RicaOne of the most mysterious aspects of Palmar Sur is its ancient Pre-Columbian stone spheres. They range in size from a small bowling ball to massive spheres over two meters in diameter and weighing up to 32,000 pounds. These diquis orbs are examples of incredibly precise stone carving in ancient times. The sculpting material of these highly polished stones is grandirorite which is not found in the local area. No stone working tools have ever been excavated. The spheres are generally found in groups of 12 to 20 and usually form geometric patterns that are often aligned to magnetic north. One investigator has found that images on one of the spheres duplicated a star constellation. Local legends tell of a magic potion that softened the rocks to make them workable. Other tales say that the spheres were game balls for giants. More legends relate the spheres to constellations. These inexplicable spheres can be found throughout the town, in the banana plantation, and even in the yards of residents. They are well worth a visit.

Palmar Sur is also a jumping off point for adventurous travel opportunities in Southern Pacific Costa Rica in the Osa Peninsula. Rainforest trips with organic cacao hunting may be scheduled and a tour of Corcovado National Park
with its 100,00 acres of pristine wildlife is a highlight. Surfing and sport fishing, whale watching, and white water rafting are just some of the popular activities in the Osa Penisula.

Drake Bay

Set your adventurous spirit free and start an adventure in the tiny town at Drake Bay in Costa Rica. Drake Bay, also known as Bahía Drake, is only accessible by boat or airplane and was discovered by Sir Francis Drake in 1579. The seclusion of Drake Bay has preserved the natural beauty and wildlife lives in a natural unspoiled environment. Hiking, boating, snorkeling gives visitors the opportunity to explore this untouched land.

Getting to Drakes Bay can be a little bit of an adventure, yet worth the trip. For those coming from San Jose, there is a small airport offering service to the capital.

Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula, Costa RicaIf you are driving, you will head south from Palmer Norte about 9 miles to a small village called Sierpe. Located on the Rio Sierpe, a water taxi will find you taking a 2 hour ride to Drakes Bay.

A dirt road to Drakes Bay is often flooded and often unreliable, thus the better choice is the water taxi.

Corcovado National Park
Located on the nearby Osa Peninsula, the Corcovado National Park is a great place for visitors to explore a tropical rainforest. The area gives shelter in untouched landscape and tropical forests to a wide variety of wildlife and plant life, including many endangered species. Over 140 distinct mammal species, nearly 120 amphibian and reptile species, including Harbor Squirrel Monkeys, Harpy Eagles, the rare poison arrow frog, crocodiles, species of wild cats, and Tapier (the largest terrestrial mammal in Central America and South America) inhabit the varied ecosystems in the Corcovado National Park. Visitors can hike through the dense tropical jungle to the pristine virgin beaches or take the guided tour and experience more of the unspoiled nature and wildlife.Cano Island
The perfect day trip from Drake Bay is a short boat ride to uninhabited Cano Island which is home to the Reserva Biológica Isla del Caño (Caño Island Biological Reserve). Cano Island is famous for the best snorkeling to be found. The location of the Park Ranger Station is a great place to snorkel, but life jackets are required. The Ranger Station has a restroom and an outdoor shower open to the public. There are a large number of secluded beaches where visitors can snorkel unsupervised.

Along the shoreline peppered with volcanic rocks there are numerous tide pools to discover. The beaches have dark volcanic sand which gives the virgin beaches a dramatic look. Hike into the heart of the island on guided trails to explore the natural undisturbed beauty of the dense forest and see wildlife including birds, lizards, turtles, and exotic plants and trees. Occasionally hikers may see a perfectly round stone sphere which is believed to be an ancient grave marker from pre-Columbian times when local Indians used the island as a burial ground. Pottery was found on this island paradise dating back to 220 t0 800 A.D. After a day of hiking or snorkeling, the boat returns you to Drake Bay and your hotel accommodations.

Corcovado National Park

The Corcovado National Parkwas formed in 1975 and is part of the Osa Conservation Area. It is located in the southwestern part of Costa Rica and is 263 square miles or 425 square kilometers.

The park is on the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica and is classified a lowland rainforest. This type of rainforest is usually the most bio-diverse and this is true of Corcovado National Park. It has been called “the most biologically intense place on Earth” by National Geographic. Many animals there are highly or critically endangered.Corcovado National Park Southern Pacific, Costa RicaWhen you visit, you will be able to see a wide variety of wildlife, including all four Costa Rican monkey species. Other animals include anteaters, Baird’s Tapir, bull sharks, jaguars, ocelots, puma, scarlet macaw, sloths, toucans, and black vultures. Some of the many snake species include the boa constrictor which is the largest snake found there, eyelash pit viper, bushmaster, and coral snake.The best time to visit is during the dry season which runs from the middle of December to the middle of April. Drake Bay is north of the park and from there you can get into the park.

The nearest town is Puerto Jimenez and there you can hop on a bus to take you on the three to five hour trip to the south entrance of the park at Carate. You can also rent a 4WD vehicle if you prefer to drive yourself. There is plane service from Golfito to the ranger’s station in the park. Once at Carate, it is a 4 km walk to the park entrance.

To enter the park, you need a pass and it can be purchased online up to a month before your visit. Permits are needed to camp and if you want to eat or stay at the Sirena Ranger Station, you need reservations.

Inside the park there are no places to buy souvenirs and the only place to eat is at the Sirena ranger station. You are allowed to bring in your own food which needs to be non-perishable and lightweight. It is also recommended you bring water to drink even though there is potable water available at the ranger stations. You will also need sunscreen and insect repellant.