With over 600-foot deep waters in its center, the Golfo Dulce is home humpback whales and is a haven for sport fishers. The bay separates the Osa Peninsula from the mainland of Costa Rica. Golfo Dulce has many large, secluded beaches and an amazing tropical rainforest. Nowhere else in Costa Rica will you find such diverse flora and fauna! The nearby Corcovado National Park is known as the park with the highest concentration of biodiversity in Costa Rica!
Corcovado National Park
The most wild and pristine part of Osa Peninsula is without a doubt Corcovado National Park. Within Corcovado you can find 13 major ecosystems, all four monkey species, all four sea turtles and over 40 frog species. In addition there are 100 butterfly species, 10,000 insect species, several types of snakes, over 25 lizard species all six feline species, tapirs, crocodiles, peccaries and over 400 bird species including the scarlet macaws!
Piedras Blancas and Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve
Piedras Blancas National Park and Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve are the lesser known neighbors of Corcovado National Park. As an important gathering point for birds, Piedras Blancas is one of the best places in the country to spot birds. The high levels of humidity that persist all year round make for a lush and green forest where many plants and animals can be found. Other than birds, you can also spot jaguar, coatis and monkeys.
Golfo Dulce is a haven for the serious sport fishers. Inshore, you can plan on catching roosterfish snapper, jack, mackerel, pompano, grouper and the barracuda. Offshore, you can encounter the dorado, marlin, yellowfin and wahoo.
Pre-Columbian culture and snorkeling
Snorkeling with Whale sharks
This Southern Pacific area of Costa Rica was once the center of the pre-Columbian Diquis culture. Rumors of the gold found here sent many Spanish explorers in search hidden gold mines. Gold panners (orders) still sift for gold in the rivers of the Oso Peninsula although the Gold Rush in this region was short-lived. In the 1930’s, the United Fruit Company set up in this area, building an elegant home for its American managers. Many of which restored to their original elegance.
Cano Island is a top destination for scuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking. Be prepared to spot Manta Rays, Dolphins, Whales, Sharks, and turtles as well as the stunning coral reefs. Located 20 kilometers off the shore of Drake Bay, this island also serves as an archeological site. Mysterious, spherical stones have been found that date back to pre-Columbian times.
Golfito, the major port in the Gulf was a big player in the banana export for several decades. When United Fruit shut down in the mid-80’s, primarily because of worker unrest and rising export taxes, the area experienced an economical dip but bolstered up again by the Costa Rican government’s decision to make the area a tax-free zone. African palm oil plantations have replaced many of the old banana plantations.
Visit between the months of December and May: The Osa Peninsula can get rather intemperate during the rainy season. So, to make it easier on yourself and visit during the dry season!
Hire a local guide for the national parks: If you plan on visiting Corcovado National Park, make sure to get a guide. This park can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to handling certain types of wildlife and requires quite a bit of preparing.
The easiest way to reach Golfo Dulce, is by flying into the domestic airport just outside of the town of Golfito. If you want to rent a car and drive, keep in mind that the roads can be rough and flood, even during dry season. When renting a car in Costa Rica, also keep in mind that most insurance packages do not include water damage.
For high quality local cuisine as well as sea food, visit Mar y Luna in Golfito close to Golfo Dulce. Vegetarians are welcome! For a contemporary spin on local flavors, Banana Bay Marina Restaurant is a great choice. Eat like a local and try the Gallo Pinto for breakfast and the Casado for lunch.
Where to stay
When visiting Golfo Dulce, you have options ranging from the gulf itself to Golfito. Golfito has been investing in ecolodges so a lot of your lodging options will be focused on sustainability. If you’re looking to stay right in town, Casa Roland Resort is a good option. This charming resort features a pool and cozy rooms. If you’re looking for something wth a more rugged charm, have a look at Tiskita Jungle Lodge. The lodge design is inspired by the Star Wars Ewok huts! Saladero Ecolodge is peaceful, secluded and offers some interesting mangrove tours. Playa Cativo is a unique beach front ecolodge with all-inclusive luxury and surrounded by the Piedras Blancas National Park. Playa Nicuesa Lodge is a stunning ecolodge set a pristine location. They will help you book kayaking tours, snorkeling trips to explore marine life or even book a whale watching tour! Book your stay today! For a full list of Hotels and Lodges Check out where to stay in Costa Rica.