Puerto Jimenez: An Outpost to the Osa

Situated near the tip of Costa Rica’s remote Osa Peninsula, the town of Puerto Jimenez might not seem like a tourist destination if you were just passing through. On any given day, locals can be seen doing business in the small downtown or tending to their fishing boats bobbing in the bay. But when you see a Scarlet Macaw parrot flash red, blue, and yellow overhead or a dolphin surface in the bay, you’ll soon realize that there’s a lot more to this modest seaside town. In this post, we’ll give you an overview of Puerto Jimenez and explain why it is the perfect outpost for exploring the raw nature of the Osa Peninsula.

 

Puerto Jimenez: An Outpost to the Osa | Two Weeks in Costa Rica

Location

Puerto Jimenez is located on the Osa Peninsula, a vast swath of land that juts out into the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone. The town sits on the southeastern side of the peninsula, adjacent to a wide bay called the Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf). Aside from a few other small towns, the Osa Peninsula is literally covered with rainforest, much of which is protected as part of the famous Corcovado National Park. Puerto Jimenez is one of the two main jumping off points for visiting Corcovado, the other being Drake Bay on the Pacific side of the peninsula.

Getting to Puerto Jimenez

Part of the appeal of Puerto Jimenez is that it is an off-the-beaten path destination. The two primary ways to get there are by driving or taking a domestic flight/small plane. From the international airport in San Jose, it’s a long seven or so hour drive down the coastal highway and out onto the peninsula. While the roads are all paved, there’s not much around once you get past the small city of Palmar Norte. Many people who add Puerto Jimenez to their itinerary make it their last stop after visiting other destinations along the Pacific Coast, like Manuel Antonio or the Costa Ballena. They then fly back to San Jose on either Nature Air or Sansa to save time. Flights are much faster, taking only about an hour.

Note: There are only a few rental car agencies in Puerto Jimenez that allow you to return your car at the airstrip, and they all charge a fee to do so.

 

Puerto Jimenez: An Outpost to the Osa | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
A small plane landing just before sunset

 

Puerto Jimenez Activities

With incredible rainforest at its doorstep and a glistening bay full of marine life, we were surprised to find when researching our latest visit, that information about tours was somewhat confusing or even misleading. In fact, some of the activities offered through tour-company websites were on the complete other side of the peninsula, better accessed through Drake Bay. But don’t worry, there are plenty of amazing things to see and do. Below we cover the main activities available from town and hopefully clear up some misinformation.

Corcovado National Park 

The main attraction in Puerto Jimenez is Corcovado National Park, an expansive 417 sq. km. (161 sq. mile) area of protected rainforest that holds an astonishing amount of biodiversity. Scientists often use this park as their laboratory, and new plant and animal species are being discovered all the time.

Puerto Jimenez is a popular starting point for multi-day hikes in Corcovado, but you can also visit the park just for the day. Below are the most common options.

 

Puerto Jimenez: An Outpost to the Osa | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
A howler monkey, one of four monkey species that can be seen inside Corcovado National Park. 

 

Multi-Day Hikes – Prearranged through a local guide, these trips have you hike between Corcovado’s different ranger stations. Common routes are from Carate/La Leona to Sirena and back, or Los Patos to Sirena and then on to La Leona/Carate. Accommodations and meals at the ranger outposts are simple, but a dry place to sleep and eat is welcome after hard days of trekking. Book your trip at least 30 days in advance as tickets to the park are limited.

Via Carate/La Leona Ranger Station – This is how we first visited Corcovado many years back. It requires taking the public bus from downtown Puerto Jimenez (actually a truck with bench seats) to the remote village of Carate for about two hours. From the small store/restaurant in Carate, you then have to hike for about 45 minutes before reaching La Leona Ranger Station. Most of this hike is along the beach and is extremely hot. Like all entrances, a registered guide (booked in advance) is required to enter the park. Although this is a long day trip, it is a beautiful hike that will give you a sense of Corcovado’s magical diversity. The adventure of getting there is fun too!      

Via Rio Tigre Ranger Station The Rio Tigre entrance to Corcovado National Park recently opened in 2015. This is very exciting because, unlike La Leona, this entrance is just 25 minutes from downtown Puerto Jimenez, making it ideal for a day trip. The community organization of Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre is in charge of tours through this sector, and making reservations months in advance is not necessary. In addition to a long loop trail (about 7-8 hours) that goes into Corcovado, the community offers a plethora of other tours just outside park limits. These include birdwatching, gold-mining demonstrations, and night tours. For more information about the rural tourism project at Dos Brazos, read out post Corcovado’s El Tigre Entrance: Hiking and Activities from Puerto Jimenez.

Via Sirena Ranger Station (Day Trip) – This is one of the tours offered from Puerto Jimenez on some websites that would be much more logical from Drake Bay. This tour brings you directly to Sirena by charter plane and is quite costly.

Beaches

A great free activity is enjoying the calm cove right along the edge of town. The main beach stretches south all the way to the Rio Platanares Estuary, which makes for an awesome and easy walk. Unlike many beaches in Costa Rica, the water here is very calm and excellent for swimming.

For a more secluded beach, head to Playa Platanares south of town. This is a long stretch of fluffy sand with crashing waves and some shady palm trees. It is better to drive here (take the road south from the airstrip for 6 km/3.75 miles), but you can also bike or walk if you bring plenty of water and some snacks. 

 

Puerto Jimenez: An Outpost to the Osa | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Playa Platanares

 

Chocolate Tours

There are two chocolate tours in the area. Rancho Raices is the closest, just 10 minutes outside town. German, the owner, brings you on a tour of his organic farm, letting you taste lots of exotic fruits and vegetables along the way. The real highlight, though, is learning about how to make chocolate from the pod step by step and then tasting it ($35). The other option is Finca Kobo, about 17 km (10 miles) north of Puerto Jimenez. This tour is also of an organic farm and explains the process of chocolate growing and small-scale production ($32).

Osa Wildlife Sanctuary

A favorite tour in the area, the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary located across the bay will get you up close and personal with amazing wildlife. The animals at the sanctuary have all been orphaned, injured, or displaced and are in the process of being rehabilitated. Entrance is $25/pp, but since you need to take a boat here and it is sort of far away, this tour is often combined with a mangrove, dolphin watching, snorkeling, or other tour. Otherwise it will be at least a couple hundred dollars for roundtrip boat transportation alone. 

Water Activities

Kayaking

The calm waters of Puerto Jimenez are perfect for paddling. The town has at least three different kayak tour operators and some hotels also offer complimentary kayaks to their guests. One of the best times to take a tour is just before sunset, as you’ll not only see many types of birds and monkeys in the mangroves, but maybe also turtles and dolphins, depending on the tide. Prices for guided kayak tours are around $45 per person. 

 

Puerto Jimenez: An Outpost to the Osa | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Kayaking into the mangroves

 

Dolphin and Whale Watching Tours

The sheltered Golfo Dulce is home to variety of different whales and dolphin species. Humpbacks are the most common (present December to April and July to November), but whale sharks, the world’s largest fish species, can also be seen in smaller numbers from April to May. Several species of dolphins can be seen any time of year, and it’s not uncommon to see huge pods of 100 or more.

Prices for these tours are usually charged by the boat instead of individually, making these tours more expensive (we were quoted $260 for a half-day tour for 3 people). Be sure to shop around because prices vary widely.

Sportfishing

Not surprisingly with all the marine life, the fishing is also amazing from Puerto Jimenez. Inshore fishing charters go after roosterfish, snook, jacks, grouper, sharks, and several types of snappers. Offshore trips go out to the mouth of the gulf for sailfish, tuna, mahi-mahi, and marlin. The peak season for trophy fish is December through April, but fishing is good all year-round. Fishing from shore or kayak is also possible, either guided or on your own. Fishing tackle for do-it-yourselfers can be rented near the town pier. 

Hotels in Puerto Jimenez

Below are some recommendations for hotels in Puerto Jimenez. Because it isn’t a very big town, it doesn’t have a ton of options for lodging. Try not to wait too long to book so that you have the best choices.

Something to keep in mind when comparing hotels is whether or not they have air conditioning. Puerto Jimenez is one of the hottest, most humid areas in Costa Rica so even if you don’t normally need A/C, you might appreciate it here.

High-end Hotels

Iguana Lodge

Iguana Lodge offers a relaxing escape on the secluded Playa Platanares. The property, a few kilometers outside town, has a mix of nicely appointed casitas and rooms. Casitas are around $200 per person/night (includes meal package), rooms $145-180 per night (no meals included). None of the accommodations have A/C; opt for a casita for the best ocean breeze. Check rates and availability here.

Lapa Rios

For the ultimate in R&R, you’ll have to head south to the popular Lapa Rios. This luxury eco-lodge is set in a private nature reserve near Cabo Matapalo, about 45 minutes south of Puerto Jimenez. Because the property is set off on its own, visitors arrange their activities and meals through the lodge. $340-470 per person, per night (all meals included). Check rates and availability here.

 

 Lapa Rios
Photo Credit: Lapa Rios

 

Mid-range Hotels

Agua Dulce

Agua Dulce is a mid-size resort right on the beautiful Playa Platanares. It’s best to have a rental car so that you can get to more restaurant options in town. Rooms range from suites with ocean views to more affordable standard rooms. $80-140. Check rates and availability here.

Corcovado Beach Lodge

This lodge made up of several freestanding bungalows has a prime location right on the bay. Mangroves and tall palms surround the property, drawing wildlife like Scarlet Macaws and howler monkeys. The beach is steps away for swimming and kayaking (use of the lodge’s kayaks is free). While this new hotel still has some fine details to work out, it is a nice place to stay for the location alone. $80-120. Check rates and availability here.

 

Corcovado Beach Lodge, Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica
Corcovado Beach Lodge, right on the bay

 

Budget Hotels

Hotel Inn Jimenez

Hotel Inn Jimenez is a quaint B&B right in the downtown that still manages to feel somewhat secluded. Small gardens surround the property, and the rooms are tastefully decorated. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable about area activities. $65, includes A/C. Check rates and availability here.

 

Hotel Inn Jimenez, Costa Rica
Photo Credit: Hotel Inn Jimenez

 

Las Islas Lodge

This small hotel with excellent service is a good option if you’re traveling with a car. It is located one mile from downtown Puerto Jimenez in a nice quiet location. Rooms are spacious, clean, and comfortable, and a good value for the area at around $65-95 (includes A/C and hot water). Check rates and availability here.

Cabinas Tropicales

You won’t find frills at Cabinas Tropicales, but the rooms are comfortable and have A/C. Nice gardens surround the property, drawing many species of birds. Guests love the owner who is very friendly and knowledgeable about local tours. $50. Check rates and availability here.

Lunas Hostel

If you’re on a budget, Lunas Hostel is a great option. This newer hostel close to the center of town has a few smaller rooms and one larger dorm room. $12. Check rates and availability here.

 

For a small patch of civilization in the middle of the rainforest, Puerto Jimenez surely has a lot to offer. The town has all the amenities you need, nature is knocking at your door, and the locals are friendly and laid back. If you’re looking for a destination to connect with nature, this outpost on the Osa is definitely worth a stop.  

Have you visited Puerto Jimenez or stayed nearby? Let us know about your experience in the comments below (email subscribers click here to post a comment online).

Some of the links in this post are connected to affiliate programs. If you book a hotel using one of the links, we receive a small commission. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep providing information on this website for free. Read our Privacy Policy for more information.

Looking for more information to help you plan your trip? Check out these posts:

  • Driving in Costa Rica: What to Know Before You Go – Before you jump into the driver’s seat and head to Puerto Jimenez, read our tips on what driving is like and how to stay safe on the roads.
  • Best Hotels Near SJO Airport – If you need to stay near the airport in San Jose, don’t settle for a stale room with no character—you are on vacation, after all! Instead, check out our recommendations for charming places that will ease the transition to/from the real world.
  • Drake Bay: Costa Rica Unplugged – If you love wildlife and beaches, Drake Bay is another Osa Peninsula destination to consider. Arguably harder to get to than Puerto Jimenez, you can definitely unwind and unplug here.

 

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21 Comments

  1. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    I’ve not stayed in Puerto Jimenez but I’d love too. Closest I was is a while up the coast, at Playa Dominicalito. Something about the Pacific side in CR which makes me love it, versus any other region. Especially down in the Osa Peninsula. Much mystery and intrigue. I reckon tour info could be confusing. It is CR, of course 😉

    Thanks for the detailed review guys!!

    Ryan

  2. Hola, Jen and Matt, My husband Kerry and I (Alison) are on our way to Playa Platanares. We are staying with a friend of a friend Waleska Vogt. Maybe you have heard of her, she has some beach houses there…. we don’t know a lot about this area so just have a few questions. How close are we to Puerto Jimenez? where could we pick up fruit and veg and a few groceries? maybe a bottle of wine or a Beer??? if you could tell us what you know that would be so helpful.

    1. Hi Alison, Playa Platanares is very close to Puerto Jimenez, about 20 min away. You actually have to drive right through Puerto Jimenez to get there. Puerto Jimenez has a couple of different grocery stores where you can stock up. There’s a big BM grocery store on the far end of town that has just about everything, including beer and wine. Last time we were there they even had bottles of CR craft beer. Have fun!

  3. I’ve been reading your blog as I plan my trip to Costa Rica and it has been helpful, but also making me question my itinerary. I’ll be there for 1 week, landing in SJO, and really want to see the Osa Peninsula for the nature, hoping to avoid the huge crowds… I was planning on spending a night in Jaco, 2 nights in Dominical or Uvita, then 2 nights in Dos Brazos before heading back to San Jose for my flight the next day. Is this crazy?? Am I trying to squeeze too much into 1 week? I will have a rental car. I do realize that it’s about 5-7 hours from Puerto Jimenez to San Jose and planned to do this on the day before my flight out, trying to keep drives shorter in the earlier part of my trip and allow for more downtime.

    1. Hi Agata, That’s fast paced but not crazy at all. You’re sticking to one stretch of coastline, which is good, and it sounds like you’ve picked this itinerary to get exactly what you want out of the trip. With a car you’ll be able to go at your own pace. Sounds fine to us, hope you enjoy your visit. Dos Brazos will be a good fit for you!

  4. Our big multi-age group of 15 hope to stay at Hostal Rio Tigre Corcovado in December, 2018. Do you know the place? Is this a good idea for youngish kids?

    1. Hi Frances, We don’t know much about that particular vacation rental, but it looks like it’s near the Rio Tigre entrance to Corcovado National Park. This is farther from Puerto Jimenez and its amenities so be sure to stock up on supplies in advance especially if you’re traveling with younger kids. There isn’t much in this area but it’s beautiful and has plenty of space for kids to run around and explore. You’ll also be close to Corcovado and the tours offered by the rural tourism organization in town.

  5. Hello Jenn & Matt, Thank you so much for such an informative website. You guys are awesome! I think I read on one of your postings that one of you is originally from Maine; I am too! My daughter is studying this semester in Atenas and I am traveling to CR to explore with her after her program is over. We are staying 3 nights on the Osa Peninsula in the middle of May. I have found a wonderful Airbnb in Rincon but a friend familiar with the area tells me not to stay in this town. I was hoping you could weigh in with your perspective on this area. My friend is the type who would stay in all-inclusive resorts while I would avoid such places even if they were in my budget. Thanks!

    1. Hi Colleen, Yes, we are from Maine too! Very cool. That will be fun to explore some with your daughter after she’s done with school. We don’t know much about Rincon on the Osa (we’ve only driven through) but it’s a very small town. It’s on the way to Puerto Jimenez, the largest town on that side of the Peninsula, which is still really small. If you’re okay with not a lot going on, it will probably be fine. The Osa is a beautiful area with a ton of rainforest and wildlife. It may not be easy to book excursions from there since it is so small so you may want to make sure that your Airbnb contact will be able to help you. Hope that helps give you some perspective!

      1. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. I decided that Rincon was too far away from all the stuff we wanted to do so we are staying in Puerto Jimenez at Cabinas Jimenez. I’ll let you know how it works out. Will be in CR in less than 2 weeks! Pura Vida!

  6. Hi Jenn and Matt,
    I am currently in Malpais, thinking of driving to Puerto Jimenez on the 29th for a few days and stop by dominical on the way back before my flight in SJ but I heard it was currently raining a lot down south. Do you have any insight regarding the current weather in Osa and Dominical?

    Thank you for this blog, it’s been very helpful!

    1. Hi Eli, We just got back from Drake Bay on the other side of the Osa and had good weather. It was cloudy one day but only rained during the day for an hour or so (every other time it rained was at night). Near Dominical (we live in this area), we’ve had decent weather, but yes, it has been a little cloudy and rainy for the last few days. This time of year, that can change at any point so it may be sunny skies for the 29th. Dominical is still beautiful even with a little rain.

  7. Hi Jenn and Matt,
    We spent 2 weeks in Costa Rica 2 years ago around Puerto Jimenez, stayed at the Aqua Dulce for a few days, another few days in a secluded cabin near Playa Pan Dulce and the rest of our time near Playa Blanca/La Palma. We can honestly say it was the BEST vacation we’ve ever had (we were there in April so very warm!) This area of the country was incredible!

    We’re huge wildlife fanatics and the bio-diversity in this area is absolutely incredible – we explored everywhere and we saw multitudes of monkeys (howlers, spider, capuchin, and squirrel – all 4 species) in our trip, plus snakes, large spiders, dolphins etc. all in our 2 week visit. We were overwhelmed with what we saw and experienced and definitely caught the Costa Rica bug..

    That being said we are returning this July during the “mini dry season” and are exploring a little more of the country starting off in the Mountains in Monteverde, Arenal, and then down for a few days at a research station near Corcavado National Park and finally our last week near Playa Blanca again. We are renting a 4×4 for our time there so we are looking forward to driving and having some freedom to get around.

    I just wanted to say your website has been invaluable to our planning and we can’t wait to get there! We’ll definitely be posting our updates regarding driving through Costa Rica and our adventures! We hope to get some great video as well!

    Thanks again for providing such a great resource for those planning a Costa Rican adventure!
    FRed – Strathroy, Canada

    1. Hi Fred, Thanks for the kind words about our website! It sounds like you have definitely caught the Costa Rica bug. We hope you enjoy the news areas you’ll be visiting this time around. Monteverde has a lot of wildlife but it’s harder to see than in the Osa Peninsula, so a guide can be good to have there. Monteverde is great for birding. The research station near Corcovado sounds interesting; you’ll have to let us know how it goes. Have fun!

  8. This is a great blog, thank you! I wonder if you can please what you know about: how to arrange a registered guide to get from Carate to La Leona (my daughter and I
    are volunteering for a turtle protection program there). Also we have a day in Puerto Jimenez and the kayaking tour looks nice. Have you been? Is it best to arrange in advance? Any guidance would be so appreciated.
    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Andrea, We know of a local tour company out of Puerto Jimenez that does overnight visits from PJ to La Leona. But it sounds like you will be staying in La Leona after? If you’d like, we could see how much it would be for that.

      We have been kayaking in the bay/mangroves in Puerto Jimenez and it was very nice and scenic. If you definitely know you want to do this, we recommend arranging it in advance. It’s easier to get it arranged beforehand so that you don’t have to run around looking for a good tour company to take you when you get there. If you’d like help with either of these, please contact us through our Tour Bookings page and we’ll get back to you right away.

  9. Jenn and Matt, My husband and I will be traveling the Pacific coast line after falling in love with CR in January with a family trip. Now we want to see more and figure out if Costa Rica is our second home! We will be traveling Oct 19-29th and looking to go to Osa 25th-27th. Being the rainy season is this something we should check on last minute as I’ve seen a lot may be shut down during that time including the roads?

    1. Hi Julie, Yes, late October can be very rainy on the Osa Peninsula. Roads to Puerto Jimenez are paved, though, and should be okay if that’s where you’re going. It will be quiet there, but there will still be locals around. Best of luck finding the perfect spot!

  10. Hi Jenn, Matt,
    Your website has been very helpful, thank you!
    We are debating whether to stay at Drake Bay or Puerto Jiminez. We are mostly interested in seeing wildlife and doing a long hike through the jungle (day and night). We are also interested in fishing. (don’t care about zip lining, rafting, abseiling)
    We are hiring a car to see La Fortuna and Miguel Antonio, then heading south. Which side of the Osa Peninsula do you recommend for 4 nights?

    1. Hi Gloria, Both Puerto Jimenez and Drake Bay have excellent wildlife viewing, fishing, and long jungle hikes, but we’re partial to Drake Bay. It feels so remote and is so undeveloped and beautiful. So we’d go with that.

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