Beaches, Wildlife and Diving | Drake Bay, Costa Rica

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Located on the northern side of the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay is an isolated paradise. Unlike other areas of Costa Rica that is saturated with tourists and resorts, Drake Bay has a handful of lodges and resorts along its coast making it an ideal vacation spot for those wishing to relax and escape from it all.

Getting There

From La Fortuna, I flew to Drake Bay via San Jose. I left at 7 am and arrived in Drake Bay around 12:30 pm. A cheaper alternative would be a bus from San Jose to Sierpe and then a boat to Drake Bay.

DrakeBay_13We fly over the beach and land at the “airport.” No frills. It’s pretty much a dirt airstrip with a shack for the terminal to check-in. Upon my arrival, a shuttle was waiting to take me to Cabinas Manolo – a clean, budget-friendly option amongst the luxury resorts in the area. The folks at Cabinas Manolo were very helpful to arrange all my excursions and transfers. I was pleasantly surprised when I checked in to get a free upgrade to a private room with a private bath (I paid for a private room with a shared bath).

Drake Bay Airstrip

Beach Hike

After I checked in and worked out the scheduling of my excursions, Rosanna, one of the property managers, suggested I do a beach hike along the shoreline on my ‘free day.’ Later that evening, there was a knock on my door. The girl asked me if I was going to go on the beach hike in the morning and if she could join me. Apparently, Rosanna told her there was another girl who was traveling solo and to find me. I’m really glad Rosanna connected me with Essie.

Drake_bay_beach_sign_webWe started around 7am. We walked on the beach along Drake Bay and then the path continues into the jungle, over a suspension bridge and river with crocodiles.

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We switch back and forth between walking along the beach or on a jungle path reaching beach after beach – each one more beautiful. I love how remote and secluded the area is because it was like having our own private beach all day.

DrakeBay_22We walked for two hours, took a little nap and then started making our way back before it got too hot. Glad we left as early as we did because that afternoon sun was killer. On the way back, we walked the jungle path to take advantage of the tree coverage.

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I would have enjoyed the hike simply for the beauty of it all. However, I’m really glad Essie joined me today, and I made a new Finnish friend.

Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park is very remote and considered the crown jewel of the renowned Costa Rica National Park System. It is regarded by the National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on the planet.”

From Drake Bay, a boat takes you to Sirena in approximately 1 hour. Essie was doing this excursion, too. We also made a new Dutch friend, Irene (another awesome solo women traveler).

Irene, Essie, and Kristy
Irene, Essie, and Kristy

Corcovado is exactly how I picture Costa Rica in my mind – lush, green and abundant in wildlife. This tree is awesome. It doesn’t grow from the ground. It wraps itself around another tree and sucks all the nutrients out of it to grow.

Corcovado National Park

Saw lots of great wildlife I have never seen before or have ever even heard of. I have now seen all four monkey species in Costa Rica (howler, capuchin, spider and squirrel), toucan, wild boars, iguana, sloth, tapir, white-nosed coati and more. The guides are awesome because, seriously, you would miss all the animals if you went on your own.

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Caño Island

DCIM100GOPROIf you can’t afford to dive Isla del Coco (packages start around $4,000), heading down to Drake Bay and diving Caño Island, is a great alternative. Caño Island is a 45 minute boat ride from Drake Bay. If you are lucky, along the way you may encounter a school of dolphins or sea turtles. I didn’t get to see dolphins only sea turtles, but the day before a women at the hotel said they saw a school of dolphins.

Most people snorkel, which looked a little crowded since all the tour groups were in close proximity to each other. Since I was diving, we went out a little further for our second dive to Devil’s Rock (snorkelers aren’t allowed to go) . It’s been too long since my last dive trip. After my anxiety from the decent settled,  I was quickly reminded how much I love diving.  Wish I was staying longer to do more dives. I need to go on more diving vacations.

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Making the trek down to Drake Bay is time consuming and expensive, but it was the perfect way for me to end my vacation. Not congested with cars, people or noise pollution – it’s a serene oasis that is worth every penny. Be sure to eat at Gringo Curt’s. There are only three things on the menu and they’re all amazing.