- Summary: Remote village on the Osa Peninsula; southern gateway to Corcovado National Park.
- Landscape: Beaches, Rainforest, River
- Attractions: Corcovado National Park, Nesting Sea Turtles
- Activities: Bird & Wildlife Watching, Dolphin & Whale Watching, Hiking
- Caters to: Couples/Honeymooners, Independent Travelers, Nature Lovers
- Quick Facts: 28 miles from Puerto Jimenez ; Sea Level ; Hot and humid ; 70-91°F
Lined by sparkling Pacific waters and lush rainforest, Carate is one of the Osa Peninsula's most secluded wonders. Located two miles south of Corcovado National Park's La Leona Ranger Station, this nature-lovers paradise is known for its undeveloped beaches, biodiversity, and outdoor adventures.read more close
Decidedly off the beaten path, Carate's biggest draws are its isolation and astonishing natural beauty. Since Drake Bay and Puerto Jimenez are the Osa Peninsula's most popular tourism destinations, visitors to Carate often feel as if they have the great outdoors all to themselves.
Early-morning birdwatching tours depart before dawn to glimpse scarlet macaws, roseate spoonbills, tanagers, hummingbirds, trogons, egrets and other species. Guided hikes into Corcovado National Park reveal even greater biodiversity – at least 367 species of birds, 140 mammals, 107 reptiles and amphibians, and 40 freshwater fish species inhabit the park.
During World War II, Carate was one of only two locations home to offshore gold dredging operations. While commercial interests ended in the 1980's, machinery and other remnants of the lucrative business still dot the area. Today, panning for gold is a popular pastime, and gold prospecting tours lead visitors to the Carate River for lessons in unearthing buried treasure.
Since Corcovado National Park is less than an hour hike away many travelers base themselves in Carate and explore the southern portions of the park on day trips. La Leona ranger station offers camping facilities for up to 15 people, including three bathrooms and three showers. A cooking area with potable water is also available. Advanced permits and reservations are recommended. While no official trails exist at Leona, the beach and area rivers provide excellent exploration opportunities. Hikers often spot sloths, poison dart frogs, toucans, scarlet macaws and squirrel monkeys. More elusive species include Baird's tapir, jaguars and white-lipped peccaries. The two-mile beachfront hike from Carate to La Leona Station takes about 40 minutes.
Daily horseback riding tours weave through jungle forests, along pristine beaches, and into private wildlife reserves. Stop to enjoy panoramic views and take a break to bathe in natural hot springs. Tours are available for all rider skill levels.
Kayaking tours to nearby lagoons and mangroves are a popular day trip from Carate. Calm waters allow for leisurely excursions through wetland habitats, where egrets, herons and roseate spoonbill are often spotted. Sea kayaking is also possible, although strong tides create conditions best suited to experienced kayakers with serious adventure in mind.
Cast a line for snook in the Pejeperrito Lagoon, or fish for snapper, jack and snook along the shore. Offshore fishing excursions are also available, and usually depart from nearby Puerto Jimenez.
Tree Climbing & Waterfall Rappelling
Embark on one of Carate's signature adventures: an 8-hour combo excursion through the area's most climbable trees and impressive waterfalls. Discover powerful cascades along the Carate River, and belay up mammoth trees for incredible views of the forest canopy and Pacific Ocean.
The Osa Peninsula is an important nesting site for four species of endangered sea turtles: Olive Ridley, leatherback, hawksbill, and green sea turtles. Seasonal tours embark nightly for local nesting grounds, where guests may observe the turtles' process of site selection, cleaning, egg laying and return to the ocean.
Places to Stay:
Due to its secluded location, Carate's lodging options are limited to a handful of eco-lodges, tent camps and small hotels. Since restaurants are scarce, most accommodations include three daily meals in their rates, which range from $70-$200 per person, per day. Electricity is often supplied using solar power, and may only be available during certain hours of the day.
Carate is located approximately 28 miles southwest of Puerto Jimenez, the southern gateway to the Osa Peninsula. All methods of transportation arrive to Puerto Jimenez, where guests may choose to continue on via rental car, colectivo bus ($8 per person; 6 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.), taxi ($80 for up to 4 people), or pickup through their Carate hotel.
Air: The fastest way to reach Carate is on a domestic flight. Nature Air and Sansa operate daily flights to Puerto Jimenez. Another option is to charter a plane directly to Carate's airstrip.
Bus: From San Jose: $12.50; 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.; 8 hours. Bus departs from the intersection of Calle 14 and Avenidas 9/11 (Blanco Lobo Station). 2257-4121. Return: Buses depart Puerto Jimenez for San Jose daily at 5 a.m. and 9 a.m., and also cost $12.50.
Note that some Carate hotels are not accessible via car. You will have to park offsite and pay a daily parking rate to store your vehicle.