17 Special Things to Do in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica 2024

Welcome to Puerto Jimenez in the Osa Peninsula! This quintessential fishing town might be small, but it is the biggest town in the Osa Peninsula and the most popular launching pad for tours, hotels, and other adventures in this most remote and sparse region of Costa Rica. I just got back from an adventure-filled trip in Puerto Jimenez, here are the special things to do in Puerto Jimenez and travel tips how to best do them!

I. Transportation: How to Get to Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica 

Instead of Liberia, you’ll need to fly into San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city. This is the most direct way to reach Puerto Jimenez: Fly to Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José (SJO), and then:

  • Plane: The most popular option is to take one of the small flights to Puerto Jimenez (PJM) on Sansa. But this needs to be booked way ahead of time because there are only seven flights per day due to the remoteness of the area. The last flight leaves at 4:00 PM. So that means you either arrive early to Costa Rica or spend a night and then leave the next day. The flight is less than an hour. 
  • Car: See if your accommodation of choice offers one. But the ride from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez will be about 8 hours. 
  • Bus: You can take a Transportes Blanco-Lobo express bus, which has two daily trips to and from Puerto Jimenez. The cost is C7,500 ($15). 
  • Boat: From Golfito, you can ride a water taxi to Puerto Jimenez for C3,500 ($7). If you want a private experience, you can arrange your accommodation.
  • Car Rental: You can rent a car at the SJO airport. I recommend reputable companies like DiscoverCars.

II. Puerto Jimenez Basic Travel Tips

  • Getting around Puerto Jimenez: The best way is by taking a taxi, renting a car, or joining guided group tours. If you want to rent a car, I recommend getting an SUV instead of a sedan since you’ll be higher off the ground and that’ll help you with the unpaved roads and potholes. If you’re going to be driving into harder-to-reach areas, especially with inclines, a 4×4 car is a must. But I recommend just going on pre-organized tours or hiring private drivers, so you don’t have to worry about all the logistics.
  • Weather in Puerto Jimenez: This area in Costa Rica has a hot, tropical climate. In the coldest time, the weather is in the 90s and very humid! So don’t bother bringing a hair straightener here. The dry season is between January and March and the rainy season is from August to October.

III. Things to Do in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica

1. Visit Corcovado National Park

Featuring unparalleled biodiversity with countless species of fauna and wildlife, including 300 mammals, Corcovado National Park is a must for hikers and lovers of wildlife sightings. On top of being one of the most ecologically diverse places on Earth, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You need to book this ahead of time because they only allow about 150 permits per day, so it sells out fast. If that happens when you’re there, you need to ask one of the guides to email the park and ask them if there are any cancellations. That’s how we got a tour at the last minute! 

The most popular entry points are:

  • La Leona Ranger Station: From Puerto Jimenez, you’ll take an almost 2-hour drive on a 4×4 car (leaves at 5:30 AM) to the town of Carate. From there, you’ll hike for 20-30-minute (approximately 3.5 kms) along the hot and sunny beach. Then, you’ll have to do more hiking within the park. Please note, La Leona is known to have relatively fewer animal sightings than the next entry point.
  • La Sirena Station: This one requires a 90 minute boat ride, departing from different docks in Puerto Jimenez. This boat ride can be choppy but most notably, the disembarkment can be a bit dangerous. There is no port, so you have to jump out of the boat into about knee high water and walk through tons of rocks/pebbly beaches. If it’s a windy or wavy day, it can get scary to get on/off the boat. Our boat almost tipped over with the waves when we were trying to get off. And then getting back on, three men had to hold down the boat on each side as we all ran in to get on with the waves pushing the boat in. Whew.
  • El Tigre: Third one from Puerto Jimenez is El Tigre, which Osa Wild does tours to. It’s not along the beach.

Please note: A guided tour is mandatory since you need to go with a licensed park guide. There are many tours to Corcovado National Park, but you want to ensure you go with a reputable company because of the conditions I just mentioned. Some boats are better and safer than others. Some don’t even give you life jackets. There are the two best companies:

  • Osa Wild: This travel agency is locally owned. They do one-day and multi-day Corcovado tours.
  • Crocodile Bay: This one is based out of the Botanika Osa Peninsula and they have their own private dock that’s just a 10 minute walk from your hotel room. This was perfect for us!

Through Osa Wild, you can book a 2-day Corcovado National Park tour through La Leona, but if you want a longer adventure, opt for this 3-day tour. There are also 2-day tours through other entrances such as Sirena (from Puerto Jimenez) and El Tigre (near Puerto Jimenez). I did the visit in a day because I didn’t want to camp uncomfortably in sticky hot weather, but I heard it is best explored between two and three days.

2. Kayaking in Mangrove Forest River + Playa Preciosa

Learn about the mangroves at Preciosa Platanares Wildlife Refuge and the wildlife that surrounds it, including monkeys, raccoons, and various reptiles and birds. We did a tour with Botanika Osa Peninsula Hotel via Osa Dreams Tours, which left right from the hotel’s private beach area. We kayaked through the beach and into the river area. From there, we took a break at one of the warmest beaches I’ve ever swam in: Preciosa Beach. Here, they also bring you freshly cut fruits!

You can join this guided mangrove kayak tour with Aventuras Tropicales Golfo Dulce, Botanika Osa Pensinsula, directly with the locals at Osa Dreams Tours or book this tour with Osa Wild

3. Go Horseback riding

You can also explore the jungles of Osa Peninsula through a horseback riding experience. I went with Explore Osa Tours and their service is lovely! We rode across rivers, up and down mountain trails to see magnificent trees and panorama sights. We also spotted several monkeys along the way. 

You can also book a horseback riding tour with Rancho Tropical. They’ll take you to the jungles of Matapalo and along the beach. For a horseback riding experience at Tamales River, you can join one hosted by Osa Wild.

4. Day Trip to Golfo Dulce

Located on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Golfo Dulce is an extraordinary gulf known for its exceptional biodiversity and pristine beauty. Located between the Osa Peninsula and Costa Rica’s mainland, it is known for being one of the few tropical fjords in the world. The gulf is home to an abundance of marine life, including dolphins, humpback whales, and various species of fish. 

Nature enthusiasts can enjoy the following activities here:

5. Matapalo for Surf Lessons & Waterfalls

Cabo Matapalo (or Cape Matapalo) offers beaches perfect for surfing and tropical rainforests. If you’re new to surfing, consider a 2-hour surfing lesson at Pan Dulce Beach! Alternatively, besides surfing lessons, you can do stand-up paddle boarding with or rent boards from Pollo Surf School.

Matapalo is also home to King Louis Waterfall, a 30-meter cascade, which is a quick hike. To explore the area, you can:

6. Ziplining

Ziplining is an iconic part of visiting Costa Rica. For canopy exploration, don’t miss out on experiencing a zipline tour. There are many ziplining experiences, but here is one of the most popular ones:

  • Osa Palmas at La Palma offers the longest and fastest zip line in the area, providing an exhilarating experience of flight across the forest and ocean views. The tour includes six zip lines and platforms reaching up to 180 feet (60 meters) in height, with the final line sending you flying over the length of five football fields. The adventure lasts approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes and operates twice daily at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Key highlights include breathtaking 360-degree views and the option for dining. The tour departs from all major hotels in Puerto Jimenez and Matapalo, and you’re advised to bring sunblock and bug spray.
  • Crocodile Bay works with Bosque Mar, a zipline company, to offer a zip line canopy tour in Miramar, which is a 10-minute drive from Puerto Jimenez. The 4-hour tour departs from Crocodile Bay’s reception at 8:30 AM or 1:30 PM. The price is $158.20 per person, which includes taxes, drinks, snacks, and fruits.

7. Look for Gold at Dos Brazos

The Dos Brazos community runs on ecotourism by Corcovado el Tigre. Among hiking, horseback riding, bird-watching tours and cooking classes, they offer a gold panning tour, which gives guests the chance to take part in the process of panning for gold by hand. This tour spans 3 hours and costs $40. Alternatively, you can book a gold panning tour by Osa Wild with a local “Orero.”

8. Farm and Chocolate Tours

Costa Rica has an abundance of green pastures and is home to an agricultural richness that makes it an easy destination for farm visits! At Rancho Raices, a 50-acre family farm, you can join an educational chocolate tour for $40. The tour will begin with walks through the forest and farm, a demonstration of the various stages of processing cacao and cocoa grind, and finishes with a fruit and chocolate tasting! You can also book a tour there with Osa Wild or join a Choco tour with Finca Kobo, which also offers accommodations.

9. Go E-Biking

Biking in Puerto Jimenez is a fun way to explore the town and its biodiverse surroundings and diverse landscapes. If you’re new to biking, make sure you ask for the e-bikes so you don’t struggle on inclines. You can rent e-bikes at Botanika Osa Peninsula, or embark on a personalized bike tour with Silvie, who provides a unique and tailored experience. Joining an exclusive mountain biking tour by Osa Bike is a good option, too. 

10. Experience Animal Watching and Tours

You’ll see tons of animals all around the Osa Peninsula. Macaws and monkeys are abundant everywhere; you’ll hear them in trees and easily see them as you move around. 

Costa Rica is also known for its extraordinary eco-preservation efforts, including the banning of hunting in national parks. Now, this is one of the most biologically intense places on earth, teeming with hundreds of mammals and other animal species. 

Sloths, in particular, are a big attraction in Costa Rica. From Puerto Jimenez, you can visit them by booking this tour with Osa Wild. The Valverde family guarantees a great experience by sharing stories. Traditionally, plating a tree and extracting sugar cane to cap off the tour is done.

Another special animal-watching experience in this part of the Osa Peninsula is whale watching from August to December. If you’re visiting in these months, don’t miss this experience by booking a whale watching tour in Puerto Jimenez that includes snorkeling and fishing! 

11. Go Sportfishing

Want to catch a yellowfin tuna? Costa Rica has a shallow continental shelf, making it one of the top sportfishing destinations. Whether you like to do it inshore or off-shore, check out Crocodile Bay, which offers fishing boats and a world-class experience with a professional sport fishing team. They leave right from their private dock at Osa Botanika.

12. Take a Cultural Tour at Aguas Ricas

This one-day cultural tour is led by Mariano, a local of the Ngöbe indigenous tribe who welcomes you to his community. It starts with a smoke-cleaning welcome ceremony, and then one of the tribe leaders will share the traditional stories their ancestors have preserved for decades. You also get to see how they live, explore trails, learn about medicinal plants and remedies, and engage in traditional activities with the community. 

If you want a more in-depth experience, you can stay at the Aguas Ricas Lodge, a rustic bed and breakfast hosted by Mariano and his family. Going on this tour gives the family additional income and allows them to continue to stay in this area. Note: You will have to hire a taxi to take you there and back.

13. Get a Massage

You will definitely need a break with all the adventurous things to do in Puerto Jimenez. Make sure to allot a day or two for relaxation that includes a massage!

  • Body Mind Soul: This queer-friendly yoga studio in Puerto Jimenez offers reiki-infused therapeutic massages for $120 for 1.5 hours and $150 for 2 hours.
  • Botanika Osa Peninsula: This Puerto Jimenez resort has a small spa area that offers massages, some involving hot stones, along with products native to Costa Rica. Their massage rates range from $95 to $180 for 50 or 80 minutes. It’s not cheap but if you’re already staying in the hotel, it’s super convenient and I liked the massage!
  • Baihui Massage: A massage in the middle of the forest that will definitely have you feeling in harmony with nature!  

14. Day Trip to Drake Bay

On the northwestern side of Osa Peninsula sits Drake Bay, a small town frequented by wildlife lovers. You can get here through the Rio Sierpe or a 2-hour drive from Puerto Jimenez. This is the second most popular base in the Osa Peninsula after Puerto Jimenez. Most travelers stay in the town of Aguitas here as a launching pad to Isla del Cano and for access to Corcovado National Park

You’ll also find gorgeous beaches like Playa San Josecito, natural pools, waterfalls, rocky points, rainforests, and forest trails. But please be advised that most visits here are pre-booked.

In Drake Bay, you can join this full-day tour for a jungle hike that includes rappelling, swimming, and seeing caves at Corcovado National Park. You can also book this 2-day Corcovado-Drake Bay tour at Sirena Ranger Station

But if you want a longer experience, don’t miss this 5-day tour that includes both Sirena Ranger Station and Caño Island, an amazing snorkeling and diving spot (listed below). 

Note: There are no ATMs or banks in Drake Bay, so while some places accept cards, be sure to have cash before arriving here just in case. 

15. Terraba-Sierpe National Wetlands (Rio Sierpe) Day Trip

Explore Terraba-Sierpe National Wetlands, which includes the estuary of the Terraba and Sierpe rivers, on a day trip for an immersive nature experience. As the largest mangrove system in Costa Rica, it is home to exotic birds, reptiles, and monkeys. You can navigate the intricate mangrove forest waterways through a serene boat ride and learn about the history and rich ecosystem of this place.

If you want a combo that includes Corcovado National Park, booking this tour is your best option. For an experience that’s more focused on the Terraba River side, you can join this tour. Ballena Tour Costa Rica also offers a tour there. I also saw that there are kayaking tours here! Make it a full day experience since it’s 2 hours away from Puerto Jimenez.

16. Isla del Caño Day Trip

This 300-hectare island and its surrounding coastline were officially designated as a protected biological reserve in 1978. This has preserved its turquoise, crystal-clear waters, which make it an excellent spot for scuba diving and snorkeling. Sharks, octopuses, seahorses, dolphins, whales, and ore are common sights!

You can book day trips to this island, like this half-day Caño Island snorkeling tour. Or, for whales and dolphins, you can join this tour. These tours start in the morning or afternoon (which is perfect if you’re coming in from Puerto Jimenez). The boat ride from Bahia Drake is 45 minutes, so combine this day trip with a visit to Drake Bay (listed above)! Starting super early you can do your own itinerary: Rio Sierpe → Drake Bay → Isla Caño. 

History fact: We can find prehispanic indigenous history at Isla Caño. It was a burial ground for the Chiriquis people, and you can find the iconic large boulder spheres here, too.

IV. Best Hotels in Puerto Jimenez

  • Lapa Rios Lodge by Böëna: This mountain retreat, located in the middle of nature, offers a breathtaking rainforest experience with luxurious tree house accommodations, a beautiful view of Matapalo Beach, a trail system with a waterfall, and rich wildlife. You can book now on Expedia and reserve on Booking.com.
  • Botanika Osa Peninsula, Curio Collection by Hilton: Located right in Puerto Jimenez, this stylish boutique hotel promises a modern and immersive rainforest retreat, combining upscale comfort with nature. Experience the best of both worlds with indulgent amenities and the stunning natural beauty of the Osa Peninsula. You can book a room on Booking.com or reserve one on Expedia.

V. Related Blog Posts

VI. Author’s Biography

Gerry is the editor and founder of Dominican Abroad, a popular travel and culture blog that shows people how to travel meaningfully, highlighting cultural gems and unique experiences. Follow her on Instagram @DominicanAbroad.

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