The Osa Peninsula is one of Costa Rica’s best kept secrets and paradise for anyone who enjoys scuba diving or snorkeling. Located on the South Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, the Osa Peninsula has often been called one of the most diverse places in the world.
It’s a magical land, untouched by the industrial world, and a must-see for nature lovers and explorers. The Corcovado National Park makes for a great day trip for those visiting, and covers much of the peninsula itself. Many estimate that it is home to more than half of Costa Rica’s exotic species, including the scarlet macaw, the lesser giant anteater, and beautiful blue morpho butterflies. It’s not just the spectacular rain forests that make the Osa Peninsula so exotic. There are hundreds of dive sites that are home to striking coral reefs and a variety of radiant marine life. In this article we’ll get to know some of the best dive sites, and what there is to see there!
THE GOLFO DULCE
With its wealth of small coves and inlets, the Golfo Dulce attracts a variety of pelagic fish, including marlins, snappers, rooster fish, and the occasional whale. Although it is not as notable as some of the other scuba sites surrounding the Osa Peninsula, there are several notable enterprises that offer scuba and snorkeling as well as game fishing. Most of which are located near Puerto Jimenez, a vibrant city on the East Coast of the peninsula.
Agua Dulce Lodge and Resort: Agua Dulce is located on Playa Preciosa near Puerto Jimenez. Experienced divers can take guests to a variety of dive spots, and also offer certification. The Lodge also offers sport fishing adventures.
The Iguana Lodge: The Iguana offers a variety of certifications for those willing to put the time in, including an open-water dive certification and four-day course. Learning to scuba dive in the Gulf waters is great for divers of all levels!
Osa Corcovado Tour and Travel: Located in downtown Puerto Jimenez, Osa Corcovado offers reasonably priced dive tours led by a team of instructors who are very familiar with what lies beneath the surface in the Gulf. They offer a variety of different dive points to visit!
Drake Bay is one of the Osa’s most popular destinations for underwater explorers. The bay contains a much larger variety of marine life than Golfo Dulce. There’s a slower pace to things in Costa Rica’s less visited southern half, and as a result, areas like Drake Bay provide a more accurate view of the country
This island provides some of the best dive sites in the bay area. The ‘Coral Gardens’ are a great spot for beginners due to their calm waters. They’re also home to a variety of reef fish. South of there is ‘The Arc’, which provides a slightly more challenging dive through rock formations. Here divers can observe parrot fish, angel fish, and a variety of other reef dwellers.
The region’s best dive spot is often considered to be the ‘Bajo del Diablo’, which allows divers to venture over 100 feet down into the water. It’s there where one has a good chance of running into bull or white-tip reef sharks, as well as the occasional whale shark depending on the season.
If you’re in search of night dives, the ‘Twenty Minute Rock’ is home to a variety of nocturnal marine life, including octopi, lobsters, and different types of eels.
Puerto Jimenez is the largest town on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica’s southern province of Puntarenas, with a population of 1,780. It functions as one of the main gateways into Corcovado National Park. This Park is one of the most ecologically diverse nature reserves on the planet, and is situated on the coast of Golfito Dulce, a popular area for sport fishing.
Once a relatively quiet and remote town, Puerto Jimenez has experienced a lot of growth since it was founded in 1914. In the 1960’s, logging companies began to work out of the pueblo, gathering trees from Corcovado National Park. Eventually gold was found in some of the jungle’s streams. A gold rush ensued, and Puerto Jimenez found itself surging with newcomers. Not long after that, the gold rushers started doing damage to the streams where they searched, and the surrounding wilderness. Eventually the Costa Rican government intervened by establishing Corcovado National Park, a way of protecting the wildlife and jungle.
What To Do
Situated on the Golfo Dulce, Puerto Jimenez has fantastic beaches where one can relax, and take in the beauty of the Osa Peninsula. There are a variety of hotels and hostels in this frontier town, so it’s not hard to find a place to stay. Tour companies also operate out of Puerto Jimenez, and one can go on scuba diving excursions, or surfing trips to the remote village of Cabo Matapalo with ease!
Scuba diving is possible in Golfito Dulce, but it is known to be much better on the western side of the Osa in Drake Bay. There are a variety of coral reef communities that are home to beautiful marine life.
Companies also offer world class angling and sport fishing tours in the Golfo Dulce, which is home to a variety of big game fish including rooster fish, mahi mahi, and marlins.
The largest attraction is Corcovado. The National Park is considered to be one of the best treks in the world, and covers a huge amount of land. There are lovely beaches to hike on, and stereotypical rain forests to explore. Corcovado is home to all four species of Costa Rican monkey, including the critically endangered red squirrel monkey.
Getting There/What To Bring
Transportation to Puerto Jimenez is relatively easy. There are buses leaving from San Jose on a somewhat regular basis, but the ride can take over ten hours at times. The other option is to fly in one of the small planes that leave from San Jose.
The southern part of Costa Rica is much hotter than San Jose, with day-time temperatures averaging in the high 80’s and low 90’s, and around 70 at night. So leave the pants and sweaters behind! It does rain on the Osa, but not nearly as much as in San Jose. However it’s still recommended that you bring some kind of rain jacket or an umbrella at the very least.
Bring a bathing suit so that you can enjoy the beaches and warm South Pacific waters of Golfito Dulce and Drake Bay.
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