South Pacific

An area full of scenic beauty with beaches, mountainous areas, valleys and lush tropical rainforest. The largest number of protected areas and indigenous reserves in Costa Rica are concentrated here, as well as pre-Columbian archeological vestiges.

 

It extends from the banks of the Baru River, south of Manuel Antonio National Park to Punta Burica on the border with Panama, including the Golfo Dulce and the Osa Peninsula, and from the western part of the Cordillera de Talamanca to the Pacific coastline.

 

This area is home to the impressive Corcovado National Park, which has an extraordinary biodiversity, which has earned it recognition of the international magazine National Geographic. It has a high rainfall and a broad range of flora and fauna species in its 4,2469 terrestrial hectares and 5,575 marine hectares.

 

It has mountain forests and swamp forests that remain flooded almost all year round next to the Corcovado Lagoon. There is also a large mangrove swamp formed by the estuaries of the Llorona, Corcovado and Sirena rivers. A variety of habitats that protect its wild flora and fauna, including a quarter of all the species of trees in the country, more than 140 species of mammals, 367 species of birds and 117 species of amphibians and reptiles.

 

To access Corcovado National Park it is necessary to disembark at Playa Sirena, with its exuberant vegetation.

 

Another of the main attractions of this region is its irregular coastline, with beautiful beaches surrounded by vegetation such as Playa Dominical, with its strong waves that make it popular among surfers; or the quiet Playa Uvita with the Uvita Mangrove, an ecosystem rich in wildlife, especially visited by seabirds.

 

Ballena Beach is also part of the Ballena Marine National Park, visited by migrating humpback whales and their calves from the north and south during the months of December to April and August to November. An ideal place to dive and marvel at nature.

 

Rivers of great importance run through the valley, such as the Grande de Térraba, with the largest extension in the country, around 160 kilometers, and its flow echoes from several kilometers away. It rises in the Cordillera de Talamanca and flows into the plains of Diquís, in Boca Coronado. At the end of its course, its course it joins the Sierpe River, resulting in a complex network of mangroves and canals, the Térraba-Sierpe National Wetland.

 

This place, also known as Delta del Diquís, was an important indigenous settlement. These ancient populations made highly detailed handicrafts: gold pieces, pottery and stone sculptures and carved almost perfect spheres in stone in many sizes. The impressive finish of these unique stone spheres has attracted the interest of scientists as well as great popularity.

 

Continuing south is Drake Bay, head of the tourist development of the Osa Peninsula, its beaches are enclosed between rock formations. It is named in honor of the legendary English pirate Sir Francis Drake who landed in this bay in 1579. This is the starting point to different natural attractions, and it is necessary to travel by boat to get around.

The Caño Island Biological Reserve, which protects marine ecosystems, some 15 species of coral and flora species such as the Vaco tree from which white latex is extracted, is located off the coast. Stone spheres of various sizes have also been discovered on this island, with no explanation as to how they got there.

Inland is the Valle del General, surrounded by evergreen forest, hills and plantations.  The city of San Isidro del General was built here, currently the most developed city in southern Costa Rica. This place has all the facilities and serves as a starting point to visit many of the tourist destinations in the area.

 

Parallel to Valle del General, the road heading south of the country reveals captivating panoramic views at various points. Cerro de la Muerte with its paramo forest, dwarf vegetation that withstands the strong winds and low temperatures at altitudes above 3000 meters above sea level. In addition, in El Alto de la Asunción you can view both oceans when the weather favors it. 

 

Heading to the highest parts of the South Pacific, in the mountains of the Talamanca Mountain Range is the Chirripó National Park, which starts with heights of 1400 m.a.s.l., has viewpoints, glacial lagoons (Las Morenas and San Juan) and rock formations called Crestones.

 

It is here where the highest peak in Costa Rica is located, Cerro Chirripó at 3820 meters above sea level. From here it is possible to see the two oceans, with the help of a clear weather.

 

Adjacent to the park is La Amistad International Park, a World Heritage Site; a mountainous system that encompasses territories of Costa Rica and Panama. It includes Tapantí National Park, Chirripó National Park, Hitöy Cerere Biological Reserve, Barbilla National Park, as well as some forest and indigenous reserves. 

 

Other protected areas found here include the Rio Piró National Refuge , the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve and the Osa Peninsula Guaymí Indigenous Reserve. All are part of the Osa Conservation Area.

 

At this southern tip of Costa Rica is the town of Golfito, located within the Piedras Blancas National Park, the only town within a protected area in the country.   From here it is possible to visit Corcovado National Park by road, in the direction of Puerto Jimenez , passing first the Chacarita crossing and bordering the Golfo Dulce or by boat; both routes offer enchantment for visitors.