Puerto Jimenez is a small town located on Osa Peninsula in the South Pacific tip of Costa Rica. It was built as mining town back in 1930s when Osa Peninsula became the hub of Costa Rica’s gold mining and logging operations. It flourished for about 40 years, but as the gold deposits subsided so did the town’s population.
Today, Puerto Jimenez and the surrounding area of Osa Peninsula are a protected habitat and the town itself serves as the main gateway to Corcovado National Park, the primary attraction of Osa Peninsula.
Like may others, we came to Puerto Jimenez to explore Corcovado National Park but were pleasantly surprised to discover an array of other activities and tours in the area. These were some of our favourites!
Kayak in the mangroves
Osa Peninsula is home to 13 major ecosystems, including lowland rainforests, highland cloud forests, palm forests, mangrove swamps, as well as coastal marine and beach habitats. And while it is tough to see them all, in the ability to take a kayak through the mangroves swamps of Gulfo Dulce and explore this part of the peninsula is an experience opened to all.
We set off on our kayaking trip with Aventura Tropicales in late afternoon and were immediately transported into what felt like an episode of BBC’s Planet Earth. Dozens of species of birds were chirping along the shore as we paddled deeper and deeper into the mangroves. The tour took us through the mangrove estuaries in Platanares River delta in the Preciosa Platanares Wild Life Refuge and finished with some sea kayaking in the Golfo Dulce.
Depending on the time of your visit, you may also be lucky to spot dolphins and whales while kayaking in the Golfo Dulce. Whale watching season runs between August to October.
Bird watching enthusiasts will find Osa Peninsula to be paradise on earth. There are over 300 species of birds in the Osa Peninsula and bird watching tours can be arranged through any tour agency in town. We recommend reaching out to Royer from Ficus Tours. Royer is a naturalist guide with a real passion for bird watching who managed to spot dozens of unique birds while leading us on a trek in El Tigre.
But the best part about bird watching around Puerto Jimenez is that don’t have to arrange a special tour to enjoy the beautiful birds in the area. You’ll spot them while kayaking, hiking, or hanging out on the beach, or while relaxing on the balcony of your hotel room.
As night falls, the rivers and jungles surrounding Puerto Jimenez come alive with frogs, reptiles, and nocturnal animals. We didn’t expect to see much during out night time tour near El Tigre, but it ended up being incredibly fascinating 3-4 hours. We spotted dozens of frogs, including all 3 of Costa Rica’s poisonous frogs, plus numerous spiders, lizards, and even a pretty cool snake.
It didn’t take us long to learn that hiking the trails at night offers you a completely different experience from exploring them during the day. So glad we added this tour to our trip!
Hikes to Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is by far the star attraction of Osa Peninsula and the main reason why more and more travelers are choosing to make their way to this remote corner of Costa Rica. We hiked a fair bit in the park and highly recommend a visit to the Sirena Ranger Station and if time permits, an overnight stay in San Pedrillo.
Enjoy the beaches
While the majority of activities in Osa Peninsula involve hiking boots and bug spray, there is an argument to be made for spending a few days enjoying Osa’s numerous beaches. We spent a few lovely days enjoying the secluded Playa Platanares just outside of the Agua Dulce Resort where we stayed for a few nights during our visit. Playa Colorado and Playa Pan Dulce are the other alternatives.
Visit A Rural Farm
Rural Tourism plays a big role in the economic development of Osa Peninsula. Since 80% of the Peninsula is now designated as protected land, the opportunities for farming here are few and far between. But thanks to organizations like Caminos de Osa and Osa Wild, rural tourism projects have helped dozens of local families to develop farm stay project with focus on nature exploration, local cuisine, and rural lifestyle. If you haven’t had a chance to connect with locals during your time in Costa Rica, visiting a rural farm is an excellent way to not only give back to the local community but also to learn more about the Costa Rican way of life.
Gold Digging Tour
Learn the history of gold mining in Puerto Jimenez on a gold digging tour of the area. Whether you only have a few hours to spare or you have multiple days to dedicate to learning about gold mining culture in Osa, it’s a fascinating part of the history of this region that you can’t miss.
Essential Travel Info
Getting in: Puerto Jimenez is easily accessible by car via the new Pacific highway that runs from Punta Arenas to Palma Norte. The road is paved the entire way so you don’t need a 4×4 to get there. The drive takes about 6 hours.
Local buses also operate along that route, but the journey from San Jose takes closer to 10-11 hours. If you are short on time, consider flying. There is a tiny domestic airport in town serviced by the local airlines Sansa, and NatureAir. One-way tickets cost under $100.
Getting around: The town is small and easy to get around on foot. Most tour operators will pick up travelers in town, so you won’t need a car to get to any of the excursions. However, if you are looking to explore a bit farther, stay in a more remote hotel, or check out Playa Platanares, you’ll need a vehicle to get around.
Where to stay: We split up our time in Puerto Jimenez between staying in town and spending a few days relaxing at the Agua Dulce Beach Resort on Playa Platanares. Being just a few kilometers away from town meant that we staying in a small oasis of civilization in the middle of the jungle with scarlet macaws, iguanas, monkeys and other wildlife frequently spotted on premises.
Our hotel room was spacious, offered great view of the garden, and had all the conveniences including private bathrooms, balcony, and AC. A pool and restaurant were also available on site. Agua Dulce Resort is not the most eco-conscious hotel in Puerto Jimenez, but at $80-150/night, it’s reasonably priced and does take small measures when it comes to sustainability. The hotel employs all Costa Rican staff, works to help local organizations in their sustainability efforts, does their part in recycling and garbage collection, as well as reducing the laundry by encouraging their guests to reduce and reuse. It’s a great hotel option for couples and families, but is probably not a resort we would recommend to those traveling solo (unless, of course, you don’t mind some alone time).
Disclaimer: Big thanks to Agua Dulce Resort for hosting us during our time in Puerto Jimenez. Opinions expressed in this article are our own and have in no way been influenced by the Agua Dulce Hotel.