Spotting Costa Rica’s Most Spectacular Wildlife at Sirena Ranger Station

One of the things that Costa Rica is best known for is its spectacular wildlife. Just about everywhere around the country you can see a myriad of neotropical birds and animals, from boisterous monkeys and sleepy sloths to noisy parrots and flashy toucans. But there’s one location where the diversity of wildlife is unlike any other. Sirena Ranger Station, in Costa Rica’s sprawling Corcovado National Park, offers the chance to see extremely rare rainforest creatures. In this post, we’ll share everything you need to know to visit Sirena Ranger Station.

 

Spotting Costa Rica’s Most Spectacular Wildlife at Sirena Ranger Station

Location 

Sirena Ranger Station is located among some of Costa Rica’s most dense jungle. Deemed one of the most biodiverse places on earth by National Geographic, Corcovado National Park is an expansive 161-square mile parcel of protected land on the Osa Peninsula on the southern Pacific coast. While Corcovado remains wild rainforest, much of which is inaccessible, Sirena Ranger Station is relatively easy to access and a great way to experience this special place.

Accessing Sirena Ranger Station

The easiest way to get to Sirena is from the nearby village of Drake Bay. Drake Bay is a remote community that is the last bit of civilization a visitor will encounter before the land turns to thick jungle. A trail south of town leads to the rugged Corcovado National Park, first to San Pedrillo Ranger Station, then several miles later, to Sirena Ranger Station. This is an extremely difficult hike along steamy, sun-soaked beaches and across rivers. It is recommended for only the most serious hikers. Because of this, most visitors to Sirena choose to take a tour by boat from the main beach in Drake.

 

Spotting Costa Rica’s Most Spectacular Wildlife at Sirena Ranger Station | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Landing at Sirena by boat

 

For more information about visiting Drake Bay, including recommended hotels and information on how to reach this remote destination, read our post Drake Bay: Costa Rica Unplugged.

Tours to Sirena Ranger Station

Day Trips

Many local guides in Drake Bay offer tours to Sirena Ranger Station. The way it works is groups meet in the early morning on the main beach in Drake Bay and collectively leave on a couple of boats. Most tours are a half day long and include a guided tour as well as lunch.

Tip: To access Corcovado National Park, you need to hire a registered guide, but this is in your best interest anyway. The guides from the local association in Drake Bay are some of the very best we’ve encountered in Costa Rica and will make your visit much richer. Many of them grew up there and have been guides their whole lives. They’re passionate and knowledgeable about the flora and fauna and will make you appreciate the complexity of nature so much more.

Overnight Visits

For those wanting to spend even more time exploring the amazing nature around Sirena, overnight visits can be arranged as well. Sirena has simple lodging at the ranger station, both shared dorm-style where you can pitch a tent and semi-private rooms with bunk beds. Sirena also has a modest kitchen so meals are available and we’ve heard the food is actually quite good. Prices range from $250-300 for an overnight, which includes transportation by boat, guided hikes, lodging, and food.

 

Spotting Costa Rica’s Most Spectacular Wildlife at Sirena Ranger Station | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Camping area at Sirena Ranger Station

What You’ll See

The highlight of visiting Sirena Ranger Station is getting to experience the raw jungle and see wildlife, but even the boat ride to and from is memorable. You’ll follow the gorgeous jungle-filled coastline south along the peninsula, passing by a gushing waterfall near San Pedrillo Ranger Station. You’ll also get to see the lengthy stretch of beach between San Pedrillo and Sirena that you would walk along if you were adventurous enough to arrive to Sirena on foot. Depending on the time of year, you might also see dolphins and whales, which come to the warm waters around the Osa Peninsula to breed and rear young.

Animals

Once you arrive in Sirena, you’ll get off the boat and the real wildlife show will begin. Your guide will take you around the many trails surrounding the ranger station to show you the multitude of interesting plants and animals. On our visit, we saw more wildlife than we had ever seen on a one day trip in Costa Rica. Some of our favorites were a giant Baird’s Tapir (Central America’s largest land mammal) resting in the mud, a large group of collared peccaries (medium sized animals that resemble wild boars), a speckled caiman, some tent-making bats, and a green eyelash pitviper camouflaged on a tree. We were also lucky enough to see all four types of Costa Rica’s monkeys. Corcovado National Park is unique in that it is one of the only places in Costa Rica where all of the country’s monkey species live.

 

Spotting Costa Rica’s Most Spectacular Wildlife at Sirena Ranger Station | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Eyelash Pitviper

 

Spotting Costa Rica's Most Spectacular Wildlife at Sirena Ranger Station | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Baird’s Tapir

 

Birds

Aside from animals, we saw a ton of birds too. We visited Sirena with our friend Ann Becker of Travel with Ann, and since we’re all birding enthusiasts, we had our guide focus on birds. We ended up with a laundry list of over 20 different birds. Some of our most memorable species were the Red-capped Manakin, Green Kingfisher, Great Tinamou, Crested Guan, several Scarlet Macaw Parrots, and a gorgeous crested owl.

 

Spotting Costa Rica’s Most Spectacular Wildlife at Sirena Ranger Station | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Crested Owl

Fast Facts About Day Trips to Sirena Ranger Station

  • Duration: Tours typically run from 6 a.m. to around 1 p.m.
  • Cost: Around $100 per person, includes round-trip transportation by boat and lunch
  • Boat Ride: Boats to Sirena are smaller, generally holding around 15-20 passengers. They have a Bimini or hard top that provides protection from the sun. The ride out to Sirena takes a little over 1 hour.
  • Trail Conditions: The trails are well maintained but rugged. The sections that you’re likely to visit on a day trip are mostly flat and good for most levels, but there are some steeper areas.
  • Booking a Tour: Be sure to book your tour in advance if you are visiting during the busy dry season (December through April). We can help you book this tour in most cases, just contact us through our Tour Bookings Page

What to Bring

  • Poncho or light rain jacket: Sirena is located in one of the wettest areas of Costa Rica and rain is frequent. It even rained on our most recent visit last February, during the dry season. A light jacket is also nice to have for the early morning boat ride as it is cool out on the ocean.
  • Hiking boots
  • Shoes you don’t mind getting wet: The boats pull up right onshore, so you’ll have to wade through the shallow water to get on and off. Depending on the tide, you might have to walk on rough coral at Sirena so water shoes or something sturdy like Keens are perfect.
  • Insect Repellent: Mosquitos and other biting insects are a common nuisance in the rainforest. One of our favorite repellents for Costa Rica is Repel’s Deet-free Lemon Eucalyptus. Here’s another link to some more good travel-sized options.
  • Long Pants: Lightweight, long pants that dry quickly like these ones are best for the hike to Sirena. We wore shorts on our recent visit and ended up finding ticks on ourselves after.
  • Water: Be sure to pack plenty of water. While you’ll be under the cover of the rainforest canopy most of the time, temperatures can still reach the 90s F (32° C) with a lot of humidity.

 

Spotting Costa Rica’s Most Spectacular Wildlife at Sirena Ranger Station | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Beach landing at Sirena

 

If you’re coming to Costa Rica to see wildlife, Sirena Ranger Station is one of the best places to visit. It is an easy day trip from Drake Bay and will give you the opportunity to see some of the country’s rarest animals and birds. Not only that, but you’ll get to experience the rawest jungle that the country has to offer.

Have a question about visiting Sirena Ranger Station? Ask us in the comments below.

Want more information to plan your trip to Drake Bay? Check out these articles:

 

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34 Comments

  1. Those photos bring back such great memories. Thanks for the Travel with Ann Costa Rica shout out. I’ll go birding with you any day!

    Your post is full of great information. I wanted to add two other points for those who may be interested in visiting Corcovado via Sirena. The Sirena station closes each year for the month of October. There’s a lot of maintenance work to be done at the station and also in that part of the park. The other stations, including San Pedrillo, remain open.

    This year, in particular, there are some major changes going on. The dormitories were not available effective August 1 and apparently will be gone permanently. As I understand from a few locals when I was there in mid-August, that part of the station is being rebuilt to accommodate additional camping space.

    I’ll be back there again in a couple of months and will give you a first hand report then. In the meantime, keep up the great work and keep us posted on what’s going on!!

    1. Hi Ann, that was a ton of fun birding with you! That Bay-headed Tanager that we saw that first day was definitely one of our highlights. Thanks for the reminder that the Sirena sector is closed in October and great info about the dorms being reconfigured into more camping space. They are smart to do that kind of work at the height of the rainy season when it is not busy. Hopefully we will be able to catch up with you again on your next visit. Until then!

      1. Hope all is well! I’m working on the details of my one week in CR in December. I may be in your vicinity again. Will keep you posted. All the best–

  2. Hello. Thanks for the nice post. Does anyone of you know how to book in Sirena Ranger Station to stay overnight? Would be happy about some information (Email address).

    Thank you

    1. Hi Simon, All visits to Corcovado, including overnights, have to be through a guide so the easiest thing to do is contact someone who does tours. Accessing Sirena out of Drake Bay is closest so we would recommend that over Puerto Jimenez. We recommend Javier from Discovering Corcovado with Javier or another great guide named Vincent. They don’t have websites to book through (common for small tour operators in Costa Rica), but if you would like, we can help with the booking and call. Just send us your trip information (name, number of people, date of tour, town where you are staying) to jennandmatt(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com.

      1. I have a similar question..My boyfriend and I would like to hike Los Patos to Sirena and then down to La Leona. As that requires us to stay overnight in Sirena, is my tour guide the one responsible for making this request?

        1. Hi Sarah, Yes, your guide will make all the arrangements for your visit to the park. They will need to request the permit, I believe it is 30 days out (the park doesn’t issue them until this time). If you need a recommendation for a local guide, let us know. We have a few contacts in the area.

  3. Hello from Drake Bay.
    Just to mention that the camping conditions and meals at Sirena station has changed.
    Thanks!
    Vincent Campos, Corcovado guide.

    1. Hi Vincent, Nice to hear from you and thank you for checking out our website! Hope you are doing well. Thank you for the reminder about the recent changes at Sirena. We need to update this article.

      In the meantime, for anyone wondering about the changes re: accommodations and meals at Sirena, here is a link to a news article that talks about what is happening and the reasons why.

  4. Hello! I’m hoping to go to Costa Rica in February (as a single traveler) and would love to particularly see wildlife and do yoga. I think staying near Corcovado would be best and isn’t there a reserve for cats near there? Do you have suggestions where to stay?

    1. Hi Melissa, Blue Osa would be a great choice for you. It’s a yoga resort a little south of Puerto Jimenez so you can definitely access Corcovado from it. We don’t know of any reserve with big cats there (the only one we know of in Costa Rica is Las Pumas in Guanacaste). There is a open wildlife sanctuary in that area, though, called the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary. But I don’t think they have cats. Another option that is also good for wildlife is the Costa Ballena, which is similar to the Osa in terms of the environment. A lot of it is still rainforest covered and there’s a ton of wildlife. Manoas in Uvita is a more affordable option there and they have a nice yoga platform.

  5. We are visiting Drake Bay in December. There are many tour companies and we are finding it overwhelming deciding on whom to use. We saw you recommended Javier with Discovering Corcovado with Javier. Any particular reason why you recommend his tour over the others? We are focused on having someone with specialized knowledge to show us Corcovado. Thanks

    1. Hi Michele, Javier is a very experienced and knowledgeable guide. We have taken some great tours with him and always learn something new, even after hiking in Costa Rica for more than four years. That is why we recommend him. But there are many other good guides in Drake Bay to take you to Corcovado if you are interested in someone else.

  6. Love your site, really informative. We have 2 weeks in March, not our first time. Would like to drive from SJ to Manuel Antonio to Uvita to Sierpe. Then boat to Drake for a week, boat back and shuttle if possible back to SJ.
    Can we drop a rental at Sierpe? Can we book an overnight stay at the Ranger station in Corcovado from Drake? We don’t plan to carry tents or sleeping bags, so we would need accomidations and food. Can we get a shuttle back to SJ from Sierpe or do we need a private ride. Finally, we were planning to book our tours from the respective communities we were stopping in. Does this itinerary make sense to you? Thanks

    1. Hi Mike, Yes, you can drop off and pick up rental cars in Sierpe. There are no rental company offices there but some companies will meet you there with the car for an additional fee. The company that we work with and get a discount through, Adobe, does this. See our Rental Car page for more information.

      Shuttles can be arranged from Sierpe back to San José. A shared shuttle with Grayline is quite expensive since it’s a long ride (around $100 a person) so you could think about renting a car again or better yet, flying from Drake.

      Overnights to Sirena Ranger Station can be easily arranged, and the tour operator will provide you with basic bedding, etc. and food. We would recommend arranging your overnight in advance since tickets to get into the park are limited and are released 30 days in advance. You may want to prebook any other tours you know you want to do as well so that you can go out with the best operators. March isn’t peak season when everything fills up but it’s still quite busy.

  7. Hello Jenn and Matt –
    My husband and I, and our 3 boys, will be visiting Costa Rica for the first time in August 2018. While I realize that August is right in the middle of the rainy season, I am still hoping for us to visit Corcovado/Drake Bay area. I was wondering what your thoughts are on this, considering the timing of our trip? Is this something we should even consider or should we just resort to staying in the North part of CR? Thanks so much! Any info would be greatly appreciated.
    Best, Helen

    1. Hi Helen, August can be rainy on the Osa Peninsula but usually we still have a lot of really nice days. Typically that time of year it rains in large amounts for short periods of time and not all day. So if you really want to go, you should do it. Just plan your activities for the morning for the best weather and bring the gear you’ll need like raincoats and quick-dry clothing.

  8. Hi there,
    we are planning a trip to Drake Bay in mid June 2018 and wanted to ask whether you just need one night at Sirena Ranger Station to ‘experience ‘ the Park or do would 2 nights be better?
    Your website is great, very easy to read and navigate around and full of relevant planning details , thanks.

    1. Hi Alison, If you’re taking the boat from Drake Bay, you’ll arrive early in the morning and then have the whole day to hike, then a little time the next morning too. So one night is probably enough for most people to feel like they had the full park experience. With two nights, you’d get to explore more, which would be great too if you have the time in your itinerary.

  9. Hi. So do I have this correct?
    We can take a boat taxi from Sierpe to Drake, from 15-20$ per person.Book a night’s stay at Drake. Book a trip to Sirena Ranger Station (in Corcovado), with Javier at Discovering Corcovado, from $80-90 per person, that includes roundtrip boat ride and lunch, from 6am-1pm? Is it possible to return back to Drake that same day? If so, what time does the boat leave for Drake? Then, stay another night at Drake, taking the boat taxi back to Sierpe at either 7:30 am or 2:30 pm?
    Thanks for your help. Sandy

    1. Hi Sandy, Yes, that’s all correct except the cost of the Sirena tour may be more like $100 through Javier now and most other operators because of recent changes that the government imposed related to tours at Sirena Ranger Station (we need to update this post). The Sirena day tour leaves from the ranger station around 1 pm and arrives in Drake about an hour later. Then it’s best to stay overnight in town and leave Drake the next day for your next destination. Overnight visits at Sirena are also possible.

  10. Hi Jenn and Matt,
    My husband and I are going to hike in Corcovado (3d/2n) from Puerto Jimenez.
    But still could not decide which itinerary to choose…
    I know that Los Patos – Sirena – Carate is a bit less popular than Carate – Sirena – Carate.
    We would like to get beautiful views to a wildlife and, ideally, we want to see a tapir and some species from cat family (once we have met the margay and we were impressed by it) and also birds and other mammals…
    So could you give me some advice which itinerary you would advice me to select?

    1. Hi Kate, Los Patos is newer and we have personally never done it or had clients do it so we can’t say for sure which option has better views and wildlife. It seems, though, that you wouldn’t miss anything by picking the option that includes it since you’ll still get to see Sirena, which is where most of the visible wildlife is.

  11. Hi there! Thank you so much for this very informative website!

    I am just wondering if my hotel is the place responsible for arranging my overnight accommodation at Sirena Ranger Station?

    And how much are we likely to pay for an overnight stay in Sirena with some walks around the area, including boat transfers? For 2 adults and 3 very young kids (all under 6).

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Ben, We work with a great operator that does day trips but not overnights to Sirena, so yes, your hotel would probably be the best option. I think it’s around $200 pp, which would include everything (boat transfers, food, and guide).

  12. Hi my daughter and I want to do and overnight at the Ranger Station at the end of April . Is the weather good for hiking at that time of year and not too many tourists?

  13. dear Jenn and Matt,
    as we are planning a trip to Costa Rica in februari 2020, with a family of 6 adults, we would like to receive some advise for our trip.
    I did find your nice site, with a lot of information. It will be our first time to Costa Rica, one week starting from San Jose, then another week in the neighbourhood of Tamarindo, joining a family reunion, with accommodation.What will be the best trip for a family, with kids who love kite surfing, wave surfing? some hikingtrips, rafting? one thing: my husband has hartproblems, so I am not sure the National Corcovado parque will be nice for him, due to the high humidity and heath?
    Hope you can give us some advise?
    thks in advance, regards Anja

    1. Hi Anja, La Fortuna sounds like it would be a good fit for your family. It has wind surfing on Lake Arenal, excellent hiking, rafting, and lots of other adventure activities. It’s also not super hot so will be a better choice for your husband than Corcovado National Park. Hope that helps!

  14. My wife and I want to go to Corcovado for 4 nights as part of our 2 week tip to Costa Rica in January. We would like to spend two day in Drake and get transport to Sirena for an overnight and then back to Drake for a night before driving back to SJ. We will have a car which we will need a place to keep at Drake. How do we arrange accommodations at Sirena?

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