Nadine and Bill Beard, along with our CEO, Vanessa Willing, just completed a site inspection of Drake Bay, Cano Islands and Corcovado, all located in the Osa Peninsula on Costa Rica’s Southwestern Pacific coast. Though certainly not our first trip to this lovely location, as we have been sending vacationers there since the inception of Aguila de Osa, it is our accommodation of choice. Our staff periodically revisit all of the properties we represent in Costa Rica, “a true labor of love” to make sure you will enjoy the fun and safe vacation we promise.
A true rainforest and marine adventure lodge, Aguila de Osa Inn overlooks a panorama of Drake Bay from the mouth of the Aguijitas River and is only a short distance from two of Costa Rica’s most precious natural gems, Corcovado National Park and Caño Island Marine Reserve. Surrounded by vibrant jungle, the hotel provided the ultimate ecotourism experience: peaceful luxury and limitless adventure set in a magnificent natural backdrop. Sitting on your balcony, lying on your hammock or enjoying a delicious meal at the restaurant, you need to have your camera handy as your are sure to see Toucans, scarlet McCaws, white face and howler monkeys when taking in your view of Drake Bay, Isla del Caño and the Pacific Ocean.
There are several ways to get to Drake Bay and all are adventurous and breathtakingly beautiful. We opted to fly into Palmar Sur and fly out of Drake Bay. We flew from San Jose on Sansa Airlines to Palmar Sur 270 km south of the capital city of San Jose on their14-passenger Cessna 208-B single-engine Grand Caravan. The tiny river town of Palmar Sur is the home of the mysterious granite stone spheres that date back to Costa Rica’s Pre-Columbian period, which you see as soon as you step off the plane (Columbus landed and named Costa Rica “Rich Coast” in 1502 on his 4th and final voyage to the “new world”). This is the main airport for those wishing to travel to the Osa Peninsula and the Corcovado National Park.
Upon our arrival at Palmar Sur we were met by “Chino” who took us by van through miles of African Palms to the Sierpe River where our boat awaited for our next adventure. African Palms, can live more than 200 years and produce pods of palm oil kernels (also known as oil dates) that are harvested by hand. Once processed they are used in a variety of products and every day items such as lipstick, cosmetics, candies, margarine, industrial lubricants, and soaps. Lush and thickly planted, with emerald ferns growing on the trunks and a dense carpet of green underneath, the palms always remind me of a tropical enchanted forest. Along the way you will see colorful houses built on stilts.
Captain Freddy was waiting at the dock, and gave us time to use the bathroom and stop by the store for snacks and drinks to enjoy along the boat ride. We took in the beautiful scenery and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere as we motored down the Sierpe River mangroves. The trip normally takes about an hour but can take longer when the ocean is rough as was the case when we arrived.
We knew we were in for a pretty good ride when the captain stopped the boat so we could put on life jackets, which he also donned. We quickly learned the meaning of “troubled waters.” You definitely want a sure and experienced captain as you make your way from the Sierpe to the Pacific Ocean into Drake Bay and then around to the hotel. Captain Freddy’s experience and skills were definitely put to the test on this crossing and it was one wild ride!
We walked up from the gorgeous dock to the beautiful hotel and were met by a friendly and smiling Carlos who briefed us about activities, dining and very important information about the 6 pm appetizers and happy hour mingle with fellow guests on the Jungle Terrace while the staff took our bags to our rooms. We made our selection for dinner and talked about Aguila´s Chef Dixon and how he loves to surprise guests with meals that they would never expect while on vacation, especially here in the middle of the rain forest, and how he can always accommodate special dietary preferences for vegetarians, vegans, or those with gluten or lactose issues.
After the briefing, we put on our bathing suits and hiking shoes before heading up the trail and across the cool bridge to the beach where we played in the water and searched the tidal pools for fish, limpids and crabs. On our return to the dock we grabbed one of Aguila’s kayaks (free to guests!) to paddle up the mesmerizing blue water river under the hanging bridges while marveling at all the toucans, scarlet macaws and other birds and monkey in the trees.
The evening meal begins with a delicious soup or salad, followed by a choice of two main courses, and a dessert always worth saving room for. Guests will appreciate the attention to detail and commitment to friendly, quality service. The food here is so delicious, it was hard to believe that this type of quality could be attained in such a remote area.
At breakfast we were able to choose from a wide menu of items ranging from granola, home fries, freshly baked muffins and breads, French toast, omelets, and tropical fruit pancakes or the typical breakfast of gallo pinto, eggs, fried plantains, local farmer’s cheese, and home-made tortillas. Lunches are light and fresh, but always filling, and may include a salad, a fresh fish sandwich or fajitas, and crispy French fries. Although not served family style, dinner offers a great chance to sit with other guests and share interesting experiences about their travel around Costa Rica.
We were fortunate enough to go scuba diving at Cano Island located about 45-60 minutes offshore depending on sea conditions. We picked up gear at the dive shack, which is right next to the dock where we boarded by far the nicest dive boat in the area, “Ballena,” which is owned by Aquila de Osa. Along the way we photographed two humpback whales and on our return sighted two more humpbacks, a mother with calf, plus several spinner dolphin.
Costa Rica’s South Pacific coast has one of the longest humpback whales season in the world, lasting almost the entire year, because there are two different migrations; the North Pacific whale migration (December to April) and the South Pacific migration (July to November). The Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) averages 15 m long and 45 tons of weight and give birth to one calf every two or three years, feeding on krill or marine micro-organisms which are abundant in cold waters, then come to the warmer waters to mate, breed and give birth. There are around 700 sightings in Drake Bay yearly.
Our divemaster, Sandra, set up our dive gear, gave us a detailed briefing and was an excellent underwater guide. Her relaxed style and finely tuned eye gave us an opportunity to see a bit of everything Cano Island diving has to offer. Our first dive, “The Anchor,” a site consisting of many submerged, volcanic rock pinnacles formations that encompass the area was about a half kilometer from the Cano Island ranger station and had a maximum depth of 60 feet. One of the pinnacles is home to a school of white tip sharks and we spotted eight. While moving around the rock formations we saw two of the exquisite and elusive harlequin clown shrimp chomping on a sea star, a chocolate colored seahorse, crown of thorns sea star and a multitude of other fish and creatures — puffers, damsels, Moorish idols, grunts, lady fish & goat fish. Because the water was extremely choppy — unusual for the area — the visibility was reduced to around 30 feet, water temp 85 F, we were wearing skins. Good easy dive without current.
We joined the snorkelers from our boat on at the ranger station on Cano Island, where we rinsed off in the freshwater showers. We were delighted to be able to visit with several area divemasters and instructors who used to work with Nadine and I in Playa Ocotal and Playa Hermosa back in the 90s and were happy to see they are all still showing tourists to Costa Rica what the marine-rich environment has to offer. They still love diving as much as we do. After chatting for a while, we all got back on our boats and headed to the mooring for the second dive. At El Arco, we saw much of the life we saw at The Anchor, but also a large amberjack and enormous cubera (dog-tooth) snapper swimming with and through the schooling fish. We also spotted the spectacular queen conch and wo of the biggest spiny lobster we have ever seen, because no one can touch them inside of this national park, but they sure looked tasty!
We had time for only a very brief two-night stay, which is simply not long enough (and not something we would ever recommend),
BILL BEARD’S AGENT TIP: Sit on the right side of the plane if you want to get a photos of Manuel Antonio and the whale tale if you are going to San Jose and on the left side if you are flying from San Jose to Drake Bay or Palmar Sur.
Cueva del Tiburon: (Shark Cave):
Half a kilometer from the Islands ranger station and depth of max. 60’ this site consist of lots of volcanic rock with pinnacles formations that encompass the area. One of the pinnacles has developed into cave is now home to a small school of white tip sharks. We found 8 sleeping around and in the cave. While moving around the rock formations where you see a lot of smaller tropical fish such as sea horses, puffers, damsels, Moorish idols, Pacific blue boxfish, goatfish. There’s a good chance to catch a glance of turtles, mobula rays and Stingrays. The visibility is 30’ or more most of the time & there can be a awesome color show from the sun reflecting off the different colors of hard coral. Good easy dive
El Arco: (The Arch):
Has similar marine life “Shark Cave” except that when you cross under this arch waiting on the other side schools of grunts are there to swim through. There was a large amberjack and a very large cubera snapper swimming with and through the schooling fish, several very large lobster but no touch as this is one of Costa Rica’s 30 National Parks.
El Bajo del Diablo: (The Devil’s Rock):
Lie’s two kilometers from the island where there are big underwater pinnacles depth’s of 130’ reaching within 20’ of the surface with large rock formations, canyons and valleys. This location alone is worth diving 5 times without visiting the same spot. Manta’s with wing spans of 15 to 20 feet and the allusive Whale shark (not often) schools of hundreds of horse-eye Jacks, barracudas, Jack Crevalle, Cubera snappers over 75 lbs., white tip sharks, Mobula rays and the occasional bull shark or nurse shark. Tropical fish like puffer, King angel, damsels, boxfish, Moorish Idols and five species eels the list goes on and on. Just coming to Cano Island to dive only this site is worth it! Great, great dive!!
Tired of the usual tourist destinations? Get off the beaten path and visit Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park. Corcovado National Park is the crown jewel of Costa Rica’s national park system. Located on the remote Osa Peninsula in southwest Costa Rica, Corcovado protects the largest remaining expanse of primary rainforest on the Pacific coast of Central America. Corcovado National Park takes up 40% of the Osa Peninsula, which contains over 250,000 species — half of Costa Rica’s total endangered animals rarely seen in much of the country — scarlet macaws, squirrel monkeys, tapirs — are common in Corcovado. With 5% of the world’s bio-diversity, National Geographic famously called it “the most biologically intense place on Earth.” Bill photographed all four species of monkeys found in Costa Rica the first day at Sirena Ranger Station and Nadine photographed a Collared Anteater (Tamandua mexicana) at Corcovado National Park.
See our latest adventure package to Osa and Corcovado that is for divers and non-divers as well, we can even quote you a price for the kids. Why leave the kids at home? Give them a week or two they will remember forever. LEARN MORE
Sublimely beautiful Costa Rica has something for everyone. The treats range from exciting adventure to leisurely relaxation, and everything in between that we can add to your diving and adventure vacation package. Furthermore, travelers can sample the laid-back national lifestyle that ticos (the name the Costa Ricans call themselves) refer to as ‘Pura Vida’ – ‘pure life’: no stress, no hassle. All this, combined with unsurpassed natural beauty and a developed and accommodating tourist industry, makes Costa Rica a wonderful place to visit and vacation.
Bill Beard’s Costa Rica has privately escorted tours, first class accommodations & Custom Vacation Packages throughout the country. In addition to scuba diving Bill Beard’s offers 5 adventure tours daily from the above resort: LEARN MORE
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