Where the mountains meet the jungle, you will find the wild yet magnificent Southern Zone/Southern Pacific of Costa Rica. Extending from Dominical down to the border of Panama, this zone is abundant in flora, fauna, parks, reserves, beaches, rivers, and so much more. The humid coastal rainforest of the Osa Peninsula (Bear Peninsula) contains some of Costa Rica’s least-developed and least-explored lands. Once a gold-mining region, much of this zone is now protected land. Both the Amistad (Friendship) International Park and the Corcovado National Park are protected by the Costa Rican government. This area is full of wild terrain that in some areas is inhabited by indigenous groups such as the BriBri, Cabecar, Boruca and Ngöbe. Many of these people live in very remote areas and maintain their traditional ways of life.
This zone is perfect for those who prefer to explore a more rugged and wild territory. Many of the trails and beaches here are free of human life and allow for a unique opportunity to get in touch with nature and forget the stresses of daily life. Additionally, this area is perfect for expert hikers as it ecompasess Costa Rica’s highest point, Cerro Chirripo. It is said that on a clear day, you can see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea from the summit of Chirripo. If you would like to visit stunning, yet un-crowded beaches, look no further than the Southern Zone. Here you will find Dominical Beach, Uvita Beach and Ballena Beach. Each is beautiful, tranquil, and an excellent place to relax a bit. Another site to see in the Southern Zone is the Nauyaca Falls. Pictures do not do these waterfalls justice, with their misty waters and cool blue pools. One thing is for certain, the Southern Zone is a beacon of natural beauty, wild adventure, and relaxation!
True treasures of nature and exotic beauty reign supreme in Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park. National Geographic defines this park as, “the planet’s biologically richest place.” The diversity found on the Osa peninsula and specifically in Corcovado is not surpassed by any region of similar size anywhere on earth. This area encompasses the only remaining old growth wet forests on the Pacific coast of Central America. Additionally, in this small section of Costa Rica alone, there are 13 major ecosystems present. Because of this incredible biodiversity, many hotels and lodges in the area have adapted an eco-friendly stance in an effort to keep all of the ecosystems in balance.
Since this area is the definition of “off the beaten path”, you should bring your sense of adventure when en route to this area. You can only reach Corcovado by 4X4 vehicle, boat or a domestic flight to Drake Bay. There are not as many lodging options in this area as in other parts of the country, and many can be difficult to reach. Therefore visitors often opt to stay right in Drake Bay. We offer mulitday packages in the Drake Bay area.
From Drake Bay, you can embark on hikes, boat rides and various excursions in Corcovado National Park. If you are not an experienced hiker, it is advised that you contract a guide to assist you in the tour of the national park. The park is a natural wonder and you will certainly see more species of animals, insects and plants here than anywhere else. This park is a favorite among animal lovers and bird-watchers alike. The dense, tropical virgin rainforests of Corcovado are truly stunning so do not forget to bring your camera while exploring.
Another fun activity is to canoe, kayak, or swim down one of the refreshing estuaries of Rivers Claro and Sirena. Should you choose to swim in these areas, be sure to use caution as there are sometimes small bullhead sharks and crocodiles in the area, although there have been no reports of attacks. This area is a gem for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and whale and dolphin watching. Lastly, at dusk, you must be sure to admire the astounding sunsets that fill the Pacific sky with vivid pinks, purples, oranges and yellows.
If adventure and exploring the wild in its natural and untouched form is what attracts you to Costa Rica, the Southern Zone is the perfect vacation for you!
Dominical/Uvita/Whale Tail Beaches
Located on the northern tip of the Southern Zone are many fantastic beaches, such as Dominical, Uvita (“Little Grape”) and Marino Ballena, known in English as Whale Tail beach for the shape that the beach creates during low tide. Dominical is a funky beach town great for camping. Relax with a yoga class, enjoy a surfing lesson, or charter a fishing boat in this southern Pacific town. This area boasts restaurants with delicacies from East India, Italy, and Costa Rica, to name a few. Dominical is also a great place to access the nearby Nauyaca Waterfalls.
Travelling south from Dominical, you will run into the quaint town of Uvita, which encompasses Costa Rica’s famous Whale Tail Beach. Whale Tail Beach is a part of the area’s national park known as Marino Ballena National Park. During low tide, the shape of a large whale’s tail will appear at this majestic beach. During high tide, the whale’s tale disappears. Established somewhat recently in 1990, the park contains the largest coral reef on the Pacific side of Central America. This is an excellent area to see humpback whale migrations from mid-July till late October (Southern Humpback Whales), and again in mid-December through March (Northern Humpback Whales), as they migrate to and from feeding and mating grounds. It is said that the first season (July to October) is the better one for whale watching.
Nauyaca Waterfalls is an ideal visit for nature and adventure lovers alike. Here you can jump, climb, swim, hike and take envy-evoking photos. The misty waters of the waterfalls are cool and create a refreshing contrast to the heat and humidity of the Southern Zone. The falls feature a spectacular 45 meter plunging waterfall, as well as a 20 meter tiered waterfall. This is a truly unique and captivating sight. We offer an exhilarating horseback ride to the falls where you can cool off in oneof the many natural pools formed by the falls. The main pool at the bottom of the falls is 1,000 square meters and 6 meters deep, so there is plenty of space to swim around.