Costa Rica

The Ultimate Guide to visit Corcovado national park and Drake Bay

Tapir at Corcovado national park

To all the nature lovers, wildlife admirers, and divers among you, don’t miss Corcovado national park and Drake Bay when traveling in Costa Rica. It is located in the Osa Peninsula on the country’s southern pacific coast, and it’s quite off the beaten path. 

Our time there led to some of our favorite memories from Costa Rica because we had such wonderful encounters with wild animals and learned so much from our experienced guides. This blog post contains everything you need to know for visiting Corcovado national park and Drake Bay.

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How to get there

Since Corcovado national park is a bit off the beaten path, you can either book a complete tour from any of the more popular places like Uvita or Manuel Antonio. These tours usually include transportation,  boat rides, accommodation, entrance fees, and so on. It’s a convenient way to travel to this region of Costa Rica since you don’t have to plan much yourself. But it’s definitely a bit more pricey that way.

We always love to organize our trips ourselves, and since we already had a rental car, we drove down to Drake Bay from Uvita ourselves. It was about a 4 hours drive from which the first half was easy with paved roads, and the second part was a more bumpy unpaved road. Therefore we recommend only driving to Drake Bay with a 4×4 vehicle.

Where to stay to visit Corcovado national park

You have several options of where you want to stay when visiting Corcovado national park. You can either book an overnight trip inside the national park, allowing you to spend several days in nature. These tours are usually including guides, transportation, and food. Accommodation inside of the national park is at the ranger stations and is usually bulk beds.

The other option is to stay at one of the towns close to the Corcovado national park and book a day tour from there, which is either in Puerto Jimenez or Drake Bay. Since we had the plan to go diving and heard Drake Bay is great for diving, we chose to stay there. We booked a lovely studio which cost us only about 30 USD per night.

Best things to do

Visit Corcovado Nationalpark

Corcovado national park can only be visited with a guided tour. It is possible to book a private tour which is not that much more expensive. We booked our tour via Osa Wild Travel, which arranged all the details with the tour operator Picolina Tours. We were lucky to have Jose as our guide, as he was amazing. He is an experienced biologist and knew much about the forest, and we had great conversations with him.

To get to Corcovado national park from Drake Bay, you have to take a boat for about 1 hour. The boat ride is included in the guided tours. The meeting point is usually by the bay. Also, there is a lunch included in the tour. We could order a great vegan lunch.

Best time to visit Corcovado national park

The dry season in Costa Rica is from December to April, which is the best time to visit Corcovado national park. The overall rainiest months are generally September and October. We visited in February and had the perfect weather. Inside the national park, we mostly walked through the amazing forest, and the temperatures are much lower than when we got out of the forest into the sun, which made walking for hours so much more convenient.

Coati Corcovado national park

Wildlife at Corcovado national park

Of course, one of the main reasons to visit the Corcovado national park is to see wildlife, and we highly recommend this place to have the most beautiful experience with animals. It is so incredible here that every tour is guided, and no humans have ever fed animals here. So their behavior around humans is very natural; they are not focused on humans because of food, nor are they afraid of humans because they had no bad experiences. So usually, the animals passed us very close, and we just sat still and watched them quietly. The experience was wonderful. The forest itself is pure nature here, and the walking paths are natural and not paved like in other national parks.

The highlight for us was seeing a Tapir, which is sadly a very rare species today, but it lives in this world for a very long time already. Besides, we have seen Spider monkeys, Peccaries, Coatis, Bats, Hummingbirds, and many other beautiful birds.

What to bring for visiting Corcovado national park

To be well equipped for your trip, we recommend bringing closed shoes since the forest path is very natural. We had some flip-flops with us to take the shoes off when we had breaks which was very rewarding. Besides, bring bug spray; there are lots of bugs in the forest. You are allowed to bring snacks, and since you are walking a lot, we recommend bringing something to eat. The guides watch out well that no trash and especially no food is left behind. We were not allowed to throw our banana peel into the forest even though it’s natural; it would be food for the animals they usually don’t have there. We love how serious the guides take their job and how much they know about nature and the ecosystem. We have learned so much.

Tapir at Corcovado national park

Go Scuba Diving at Cano Island

One of the best things to do during your stay in Drake Bay is to experience the incredible underwater world at Cano Island. The island is about a 45 min boat ride away from the bay and you can either book a snorkeling trip or a scuba dive here. We went for two dives with the company Drake Divers and had a great experience. The dives were guided and we met some fun people on the trip. We saw many white tip reef sharks, different kinds of rays, big and colorful lobsters, moray eels, and much more beautiful marine wildlife.

White tip reef shark at Cano Island
Diving at Cano Island Costa Rica

Explore the Beaches around Drake Bay

Drake Bay itself has a beautiful beach, but there are usually quite a few boats because of all the tours starting from here. Besides, unfortunately, you can not see the sunset from the bay. 

For swimming and spending an afternoon, including sunset, we recommend Cocalito Beach. There is a beautiful hiking trail from Drake Bay which you can follow for about 45 min to get to this beach. It’s a lovely and small beach with some trees for shade and great for swimming.

Sunset Drake Bay

Travel tips

Where to eat in Drake Bay Costa Rica

We usually rent Airbnb’s when we travel for longer, so we can cook our own meals. So we honestly haven’t eaten out much during our time in Drake Bay. But we had lunch at Marisqueria Roberto’s after our Corcovado national park tour, and it was delicious. They had no issues preparing us a vegan plate with local dishes. We can recommend eating here.

Conclusion

Corcovado national park and Drake Bay are definitely not on every visitor’s route because it is a bit time-consuming to get there. It may not be for you if you have only a short time to experience Costa Rica. We highly recommend the place to nature lovers who want to spend time in the jungle, making beautiful wildlife encounters and divers because it’s one of the best spots for scuba diving in Costa Rica. To come here is definitely a rewarding experience. If you are in the area, make sure you explore more parts of the Osa Peninsula like Pavones and Punta Banco, a paradise with black sand beaches and great for surfing.

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