Wild for Wildlife in Drake Bay
Half of Costa Rica’s 500,000 animal species are found on the Osa Peninsula – a genuine wonderland for wildlife lovers. Intrepid travelers will discover mountainous terrain framed by luxuriant rainforests and secluded beaches, home to the country’s best locales for observing endangered creatures like the jaguar, Baird’s tapir and giant anteater. Picturesque Drake Bay is a convenient base for exploring the Osa’s many highlights, from Cano Island’s billowing schools of tropical fish, to the rich biodiversity in Corcovado National Park.
Whales are regular visitors to Drake Bay, which has one of the longest humpback seasons in the world. Large numbers of humpback, pilot and beaked whales pass through the scenic bay between December-April and July-November. Bottlenose and spotted dolphins are common too, and often frolic alongside tour boats. Book a dolphin and whale watching excursion for close encounters with these gentle creatures, and keep an eye out for mating sea turtles and rays as well.
Warm waters, great visibility and prolific marine life make Cano Island one of Costa Rica’s hottest snorkeling and scuba diving spots. Colorful reefs, volcanic mounds and eighty-foot walls create an amazing habitat for white tip reef sharks, moray eels, sea turtles and huge schools of tropical fish. Just a 45-minute boat ride from Drake Bay, Cano Island day trips include snorkeling or two-tank dives, lunch, and a few hours of beach relaxation. Get ready to swim among sharks!
Named “the most biologically intense place on Earth” by National Geographic, Corcovado National Park gives refuge to 367 species of birds, 140 mammals, 107 reptiles and amphibians, and 40 freshwater fish. It’s the only place where you can see all four of Costa Rica’s monkeys: white-faced capuchins, spider monkeys, howler monkeys and the endangered Central American squirrel monkey. Everywhere you look, you’ll find a vibrant cross-section of jungle life, from rainbow-colored toucans to the endangered Baird’s tapir. Day hikes depart from Drake Bay, and overnights at the park are popular with serious naturalists.
The Terraba Sierpe Wetlands offer superb birdwatching year-round, so get out your checklist – tiger herons, ospreys, roseate spoonbills and black-necked stilts are just a few of the area’s avifauna. Take a kayak tour through the lush estuary and look for green iguanas, silky and collared anteaters, sloths and caiman among some of the tallest mangroves in the world. Explore one of the country’s most unique coastal ecosystems, located 30 minutes outside of Drake Bay.
Creepy Crawly Fun
An exciting night hike with Tracie the Bug Lady is a local staple, and an essential stop on your wildlife expedition. Armed with a flashlight, you’ll discover a diverse world of nocturnal creatures like red-eyed tree frogs, jumping spiders, eerie insects and lots of snakes. Not everything is creepy crawly: wide-eyed kinkajous and anteaters are other nighttime favorites. You’ll glean interesting facts on tarantulas, cicadas and the aggressive nature of army ants on this informative two-hour tour.