Drake Bay Attractions
Numerous tiny, unnamed beaches and several well-known sandy stretches line the trail from Drake Bay to Corcovado National Park, and all are ideal for swimming, boogie boarding and body surfing. In calm waters, kayaking and snorkeling are also possible – just beware of crocodiles near estuaries, and always inquire about swimming conditions.
A 30-minute walk from Drake Bay, this isolated beach is only about 200 feet in length. Traversing a beautiful – albeit wobbly – suspension bridge over the Agujitas River along the way is half the fun. Playa Cocalito is often completely deserted, despite its close proximity to the small hotels in the area. Monkeys inhabit the rainforest that borders the shore, and snorkelers can spot a slew of marine life offshore when waters are calm.
Playa Caletas is another remote beach located about two miles south of Playa Cocalito. This shore looks almost identical to Cocalito, but is even less frequented by visitors because of its greater distance from the downtown area.
Playa San Josecito
A two-hour walk from Drake, Playa San Josecito is regarded as the most beautiful beach in the area. Facing west, the beach’s sunsets are spectacular – particularly during whale season, when the setting sun provides an unreal backdrop to these majestic creatures. Day trips to Playa San Josecito are popular, and some tours allow a stopover on the way to or from Corcovado National Park’s San Pedrillo Biological Station. Offshore snorkeling, sunbathing, and relaxing underneath one of the area’s many palm trees are San Josecito’s main attractions.
National Parks & Reserves:
Cano Island Biological Reserve
A 45-minute boat ride from Drake Bay and 11 miles from Corcovado National Park, Cano Island is a scuba diving and snorkeling treasure. The waters are clear and warm, and host an abundance of marine life including sea turtles, large schools of jack and needle fish, and white tip reef sharks. Fish include bicolor parrotfish, two kinds of puffer fish, surgeon fish, grouper, butterfly angel fish, wrasses, boxfish, king damsels, amberjacks and more. Previously an Indian burial ground, the island has a trail which leads to an archaeological site known for its granite spheres.
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is considered one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. Truly a nature lover’s paradise, the park contains 2.5% of the planet’s total animal species. This list includes four types of venomous snake, all four species of monkey found in Costa Rica, an enormous concentration of scarlet macaws, four species of turtle, peccaries, red-eyed tree frogs, harpy eagles, and a very small number of jaguars.
Two of Corcovado’s four ranger stations are accessible by boat from Drake Bay. The San Pedrillo Station is only about thirty minutes away, and features two trails – one of which leads to a refreshing waterfall. Fer-de-lance snakes, the most venomous in Costa Rica, are plentiful, and a guide is highly recommended.
Sirena Station is an hour from Drake Bay, and receives much less foot traffic than Pedrillo. Tapirs – rare animals that look like a cross between a horse and an elephant – are fairly common here, as well as sloths, toucans, and pumas. Overnight stays are possible in dormitory style rooms, with advanced permits only.
Proyecto Campanario (Bell Tower Project) Biological Station
The Campanario Biological Station is made up of 170 acres, three streams and four beaches that are wonderful for exploring. The area supports at least 117 species of reptiles and amphibians, 350 species of birds, and 9,000 species of insects. Tapirs, anteaters, monkeys, jaguars, peccaries and whales are just a few of the reserve’s 139 types of mammals. Trails through the primary and secondary forests weave through lush vegetation, including over 120 different tree species.
Punta Rio Claro National Wildlife Refuge
Located two miles south of Drake Bay, the Punta Rio Claro National Wildlife Refuge harbors an identical species list as its neighbor, Corcovado National Park. Many locals still refer to this refuge by its previous name, the Punta Marenco Biological Reserve. The refuge is composed of about 1,230 acres, and has no public facilities or marked trails.
Terraba-Sierpe National Wetlands
The nearby Terraba-Sierpe National Wetlands protect more than 66,850 acres between the Terraba and Sierpe Rivers, and encompass some of the largest mangrove trees in the world. Home to two rivers, turtles, caimans, frogs, 100 species of bird, and 55 species of fish, the wetlands are perfect for bird and animal observation. Canals through the mangroves can be explored in small boats or kayaks.
San Pedrillo Waterfalls
This set of three falls can be reached via a steep, hour-long trail at the San Pedrillo Ranger Station. The largest of the trio is about 80 feet tall. A cold swimming hole provides a nice respite from the Costa Rican heat.
La Llorona Waterfall
An enormous 100-foot waterfall marks the end of the Las Marias Trail from Corcovado’s Sirena Station. This inviting cascade can be seen from the boat ride to and from the park.
Rio Agujitas Waterfall
The Rio Agujitas Waterfall is about a two and a half hour canoe or kayak trip from Drake Bay. There are a number of excellent swimming holes along the way. The falls are 65 feet high, and an excellent place to find poison dart frogs, monkeys and many species of birds.
The Don Petrona Waterfalls
Located on private property, these falls are only accessible with a guide.