South Pacific – Corcovado – Golfito
The Corcovado – Golfito region encompasses the coastal area from Dominical in the north to Punta Burica at the southern end of the country. This region includes several natural attractions belonging mainly to the Cordillera de Talamanca mountain range. Known for its stunning biodiversity, natural beauty, and hardy residents, the Southern Pacific Zone contains several wilderness areas of great importance in terms of both nature and tourism. A variety of activities may be enjoyed in this region, including hiking Costa Rica’s tallest mountains, horseback riding, rafting, sport-fishing, diving, bird-watching, and nature viewing. Visitors are often awe-struck by the great variety of plant and wildlife species, especially whales, macaws and families of squirrel monkeys endemic to the central and southern Pacific coast.
The wealth of natural attractions makes this region ideally suited for adventure and ecotourism activities. From secluded tropical beaches to soaring mountaintops where low temperatures foster ecosystems and geological formations found nowhere else in Costa Rica, it is a region of sharp contrasts in which tourists can visit vastly different environments in a short period of time. Also of great scenic beauty are the region’s rivers and waterfalls. In short, the Southern Pacific offers a stunning variety of attractions just waiting to be discovered.
Two very important protected areas are located in this region: Corcovado National Park, defined by National Geographic Magazine as “the most biologically intense place on the planet”; and the Biosphere Reserve, declared a World Heritage site and part of La Amistad International Park.
As one would expect, accommodations in this region tend to cater to nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Several world-renowned jungle lodges are located in the Corcovado area offering guided nature treks and gourmet cuisine, while intimate hotels and many surfer oriented lodgings dot the scenic coastline further north.
South Pacific – Corcovado – Golfito
From cultural, adventure or nature pursuits, there is no shortage of activity options available for every taste and budget.
Horseback riding in the south offers myriad possibilities for exploring nature spots, communities and cultural and heritage sites, including Rivas de Pérez Zeledón, Dominical, Palmar Sur, Rincón de Osa, Puerto Jiménez, Sierpe, and San Vito. Standout beaches in the area include Dominical, Ballena, Tortuga, Drake, Platanares and Carate. In addition, during Easter, the Puerto Jiménez–Playa Preciosa Preserve holds its annual horseback ride through some of Costa Rica’s most breathtaking scenery.
Hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy the region’s natural and cultural attractions. Outstanding areas include Chirripó, Piedras Blancas, La Amistad and Corcovado National Parks, as well as an endless number of beaches and forested areas, both public and private.
The Southern Zone features a variety of backcountry roads ideally suited for adventure and nature-watching. Touring is possible on regular or mountain bikes. Among the most visually interesting routes are Palmar Sur–Sierpe, Rincón de Osa–La Palma, Dominical–Parque Marino Ballena, Golfito–Playa Cacao, San Vito–Agua Buena and Jiménez–Playa Carate.
Picturesque communities and small towns offer sodas (small restaurants serving local food), cafes and inexpensive restaurants. Costa Rica’s ubiquitous roadside stands feature delicious seasonal fruits and assorted goodies, making them a good place for a snack and leg stretching. In San Isidro de El General, the regions largest city, the local market offers visitors traditional Costa Rican fare as well as international cuisine.
Located on the outskirts of Ciudad Neily, the Fila de Cal is a system of caves and caverns offering visitors an exciting time of adventure and exploration among its many subterranean chambers.
Birds Wildlife and Nature Watching
Protected areas such as Ballena, Térraba-Sierpe, Golfito, and Corcovado provide visitors with many opportunities for exploring the region’s natural diversity.
Photography stands out as a popular activity due to the varied cultural, archeological and scenic options available, as well as the wealth of flora and fauna, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, ranches, African palm, and sugarcane plantations.
Sport – Fishing
The Gulf’s abundant marine life and the area’s quality infrastructure and services have made it a favorite among anglers who come to try their hand at some of the world’s best sport-fishing. Boats may be hired out of Puerto Jiménez, Golfito and Zancudo.
Chirripó Mountain Race
Unique in Central America, this competition takes place every year during the last week of February, and includes over 200 athletes from all over the country. Participants start in the village of San Gerardo de Rivas in Pérez Zeledón and race fourteen-kilometers across mountainous terrain that includes a short but very steep ascent (from 1,000 to 3,500 meters) up to the Valle de los Crestones (Crestones Valley).