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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Drake Bay: Costa Rica Unplugged – Detailed guide to visiting this popular, but quaint, village. Where to stay, what to do, and more.
- A Night Tour with Tracie the Bug Lady – One of Drake Bay’s most popular tours that will show you what lurks in the jungle by night.
- A Hike to Playa San Josecito – If you’re up for a long hike, you won’t want to miss the beautiful San Josecito Beach for swimming and snorkeling.
- Packing for Costa Rica: The Essentials – Tips for what to bring on your trip, including specific recommendations for Drake Bay.