By Staff writter
Nestled between the Osa Peninsula and Costa Rica’s
south Pacific Coast is Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf), a large bay
ringed by secluded beaches and the wonderful biodiversity
of the region. Of the many tourist attractions Costa Rica
has to offer, Golfo Dulce is
the perfect destination for nature lovers, both those seeking
adventure and those who want only to relax under a palm tree
on the beach.
Circling the warm blue waters of
Golfo Dulce is a tropical rain forest where one may encounter
four species of monkey (spider, white-faced, squirrel and
howler), Poison Dart frogs, Morpho butterflies, anteaters,
agoutis, coati mundis, jaguars, ocelots and margays.
Beautiful birds abound, such as scarlet macaws,
toucans, hummingbirds, great curassows, crested guans, trogons,
aracaris, honey creepers, herons, tinamous, woodpeckers, wood
creepers, ant birds and manikins.
During a 1996 visit by the
Greenpeace ship Moby Dick, Captain Joel Stewart commented
that there is "so much biodiversity... so many species, that
one is almost forced to defend it."
Prophetically, a new national Park
was recently declared in the area: the Piedras Blancas National
Park. It takes its place alongside the Golfito Wildlife National
Refuge and the Golfo Dulce Forestry Reserve.
Conscious that nature and sustainable
tourism can complement each other, the area features eco-friendly
lodges as well as some of the country’s best sportfishing
Among the best of
the former is Golfo Dulce Lodge,
a small bungalow settlement
about 300 meters from San Josecito Beach, surrounded by undisturbed
first-growth lowland rainforest, right beside Piedras Blancas
Swiss-owned and operated, Golfo Dulce
Lodge (German/English/Spanish) is only accessible via a 20-minute
boat ride from either Golfito or Puerto Jimenez. Golfo
Dulce Lodge encompasses
more than 300 hectares (750 acres), acquired to conserve the
existing virgin rainforest, and to establish a haven where
nature and animal lovers can experience an almost untouched
environment. The 300 hectares feature ecosystems such as primary
and secondary forest, an extensive heliconia field, and pasture.
The eco-friendly philosophy of Golfo Dulce Lodge
includes support for the official ‘Profelis’ wildcat rehabilitation
center, and for the scarlet macaw release program of the world-renowned
‘Zoo Ave’. Visitors to the lodge will have first-hand views
of these beautiful birds, which make their homes in the trees
surrounding the comfortable guest bungalows.
Profelis has helped reintroduce captured
margays (Leopardus wiedii) and ocelots (Leopardus pardalis)
into their natural habitat. In 1999 Zoo Ave released a group
of highly endangered scarlet macaws (Ara macao) into Piedras
Blancas National Park as the first stage of a long-term project
to establish a third self-sustaining scarlet macaw population
in addition to the two existing groups in the Corcovado National
Park and the Carara Biological Reserve.
On the western shore of Golfo Dulce
is the Osa Peninsula, which National Geographic has called
"the most ecologically intense place on earth."
near the town of Puerto Jiménez, is Crocodile Bay Lodge,
a resort spread over 44 acres of tropical gardens, with restaurant,
bar, pool, tackle & gift shop, roof-top observation deck
and spacious air-conditioned rooms, each with a private deck.
Sportfishing is a specialty at Crocodile Bay
Lodge; its 10 boats and experienced captains are available
year-round for anglers to enjoy fishing for sails and marlin
in peak season, and plenty of jack, runners, mackerel, amberjack,
roosterfish, and big snapper inshore.
Nearby is the Bahia Esmeralda
hotel, located on a lush hillside overlooking the gulf and
surrounded by 70 acres of primary and secondary rain forest,
filled with exotic plants, birds and animals unique to the
region. This lodge also features a natural spring-fed pool,
barbecue area, and numerous trails where one can explore virgin
Within minutes’ walk are deserted tropical beaches
and world class waves, a favorite with surfers, both amateur and professional, because of the warm
tropical water throughout the year and numerous, challenging
point and reef breaks.
Surfing is only one of the many activities
available in the area. There is sea-kayaking, horseback riding,
snorkeling, hiking, swimming and, of course, sportfishing. The waters off Puerto Jiménez, Golfito and Zancudo
also abound with sail sand marlins. Inshore, one can find
jacks, runners, mackerel, amberjack, roosterfish and large
There are two modern marinas in Golfito,
both offering fishing charters and slip facilities for incoming
Dulce, with its profusion of small coves and rocky islats
and shoreline, is also excellent for small barracuda, snapper
and corvina (sea bass). Snook there sometimes run over 40
pounds. Inside the Zancudo peninsula, and farther north, at
the mouth of the Esquinas river are also great places for
On the southern tip of the Osa Peninsula
is the beautiful
hotel, set in a private nature reserve spread over 1,000 acres.
How to get there:
There are two airports in Golfo Dulce:
Golfito and Puerto Jiménez. From San José, it’s a 45-minute
flight to either. One can also take the Inter-American Highway,
but the drive will take several hours.
Once in Golfito or Puerto Jiménez,
local transportation by boat to the lodges, hotels and beaches
The Osa Peninsula
With Drake Bay, Corcovado National Park,
and Golfo Dulce, it's worth the trek. BAHÍA DRAKE. The Osa
Peninsula's Drake Bay was named after Sir Francis Drake (1540-96),
the British explorer who, legend has it, anchored here more
than four centuries ago. The rugged coast that stretches south
from the mouth of the Río Sierpe to Corcovado has small beaches
backed by thick jungle, ending in rocky points and dark, igneous
islets. The tiny villages and nature lodges scattered along
the coast are hemmed in by the rain forest, which is home
to monkeys, sloths, scarlet macaws, and hundreds of bird species.
A trip here is a true tropical adventure, with plenty of hiking
and some rough boat rides. Most people reach this isolated
area by boat via the Río Sierpe, though direct flights are
available, and hardy backpackers occasionally hike north out
of Corcovado (two hours to Marenco, four to Drake Bay).
Once a sleepy fishing village, Dominical is
slowly being "discovered." Its magic lies in its combination
of terrestrial and marine wonders: the rain forest grows
right up to the beach in some places, and the sea offers
world-class surfing. The beaches here are long, practically
empty, and perfect for strolling and shell collecting.
- PARQUE NACIONAL CORCOVADO
Comprising 435 sq km (168 sq mi) on the tip
of the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park is one of
the largest and wildest protected areas in the country.
Much of the park is covered with virgin rain forest, where
massive espavel and nazareno trees tower over the trails,
thick lianas hang from their branches, and toucans, spider
monkeys, scarlet macaws, and poison dart frogs abound. There
are no roads in the park, and the ones that approach it
are dirt tracks that require four-wheel-drive vehicles most
of the year. Visitors often arrive by boat on day trips
from the nature lodges in Drake Bay, but the best way to
explore the park is to sling on a backpack and hike into
the wilderness. There are three entrances to Corcovado:
San Pedrillo to the north, Los Patos to the east, and La
Leona to the south. From Puerto Jiménez to La Leona, take
a four-wheel-drive vehicle 1 hr to Carate and hike 20 mins;
to Los Patos, take 20-min drive to the Río Rincón and count
on 2- to 3-hr hike to entrance.
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For more information on visiting Costa Rica to view this spectacular
event please visit Costa Rica’s TravelWEB @ www.crica.com, or by calling our toll free number
at 1-800-788-7857 or 1-866-822-2269 .