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.

Piedras Blancas National Park

Piedras Blanca National Park, previously known as Las Esquinas, is located on the Southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, nestled along the Gulf of Dulce. This beautiful national park spans 34,642 acres in the Puntarenas Province. The park ranges in altitude from sea level up to 3,281 feet and is covered in rainforest.

To the east of Piedras Blanca are the Golfito National Wildlife Preserve and the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve to the west. The Golfo Dulce Forest Preserve also abuts the Corcovado National Park. These local parks and preserves offer visitors plenty of wildlife and majestic landscape to explore.

Piedras Biancas National Park, Southern Pacific Costa RicaPiedras Blanca is home to all four monkey species of Costa Rica along with many other species of mammals, such as sloths, kinkajous, and agoutis. Hundreds of bird species, including the rare scarlet macaw, live in the area. The Piedras Blanca National Park is also home to cats, including the ocelot, puma, and one of the last jaguar habitats in Costa Rica. Additionally, there are many sea creatures that can be seen from the park, including several types of dolphins and whales.

There are many activities available to explore the area in and around Piedras Blanca. The park itself has no official trails, but there are many paths that make it possible to explore independently. The local hotels also have their own trail heads and local guides are available for tours during the day or night. Activities on or near the water are also available, such as beautiful beaches, kayaking, snorkeling, and whale watching tours.

Aside from the neighboring parks and reserves, there are several nearby cities. Golfito, the closest town, is the southernmost port town in Costa Rica. Across the gulf, opposite the park on the Osa Peninsula is Puerto Jimenez. To the north of the park is Palmar Sur, which is known for being the home of the mystifying granite spheres. Pavones, to the south, is a beautiful beach town with excellent surfing.

The entrance to Piedras Blanca National Park is found in La Gamba. To reach La Gamba, take the Interamerican Highway south from Palmar and turn directly off to La Gamba. It is also possible to take a road north from the town of Golfito. There is a small ten dollar fee for entrance into the park and the park is open daily from 8am to 4pm.