Lokal (Intro) Guide to the Osa Peninsula

By Kelley Louise

Tucked away in the southwestern portion of Costa Rica lies the Osa Peninsula, a small corner of the country that's home to at least half of all species living in Costa Rica. The region is home to 2.5% of earth's biodiversity – all living in synergy in a highly concentrated area of just 700 square miles.

All about the Osa

The Osa peninsula region, located in the southern portion of country, is particularly special to us at Lokal, as it served as a core part of the inspiration to build our platform. Before we dive in, learn more about the stories behind what has driven us to launch Lokal:

Getting There

To get to the Osa Peninsula, you'll have to fly into Puerto Jimenez, a tiny airport located about a 40 minute flight from San Jose. Take a small plane that holds about a dozen people, and jetset down to paradise. The flight is quick, and makes for some pretty epic photo opps along the way.

The Osa's abundant nature, unique wildlife and friendly people make it an amazing travel destination, but the wrong kind of tourism could damage its fragile environment and change local culture. Fortunately, several local communities are taking it upon themselves to set a path for developing sustainable tourism projects that directly support conservation efforts and alternative livelihoods for local people.

Meet the Locals

On each of our trips to Costa Rica, we've handselected the guides we work with so that travelers can have immersive experiences and connect directly with locals. Throughout our most recent trip, we worked closely with three local guides:
Xinia is one of our local guides in Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre. Travelers can adventure with her to her mountainside cabin (Descanso El Pizote) on the border of Corcovado National Park, a hike which takes about an hour and a half. An afternoon with Xiña includes exploring her farm and visiting a waterfall in the area. For the early birds, we recommend waking up early to watch the sunrise a lookout spot nearby Xinia's cabin in the middle of the jungle.
Juan is a gold miner who has spent more than 40 years mining for gold in the Osa. Juan has told us that he loves showing travelers his land and explaining the tradition behind his craft – especially because the extra income allows him to support his family without relying entirely on gold mining (which can be detrimental to the environment if done too frequently).

We also work closely with Carlos and his siblings at his property in Rancho Quemado, a place where you can explore Laguna Chocuaco for a birdwatching canoe ride on his lagoon, where travelers have the chance to spot up to 20 species of birds.

Carlos, pictured on the left, and his brother on the right. Photos by Dave Krugman.

What to Eat

On our trips, all of our meals are prepared by locals, usually at their homes or at community-owned ecolodges. We prefer this style because it gets you closer to the culture. A typical Tico dish includes a seafood or chicken dish, rice and an assortment of fresh vegetables.

Where to Stay

When visiting the Osa Peninsula, especially when traveling with a local guide, it's easy to follow an itinerary that brings you throughout several areas in the Osa – allowing you the time to explore multiple parts of the region. Below, a selection of just a few of our favorite places.
Naguala is a treehouse + ecolodge hybrid, and spent our time enjoying more swimming holes, hiking, reading, relaxing, practicing yoga and more.

Danta Lodge and La Leona are two more of our favorite locations to go off-the-grid and appreciate the beauty of the Osa Peninsula.

Where to Go

Isla del Caño is one of the top places in Costa Rica to spot marine life. It’s a small island in the Bahia de Corcovado where you can spot manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles, whales, a wide variety of fish — and if you’re lucky, manatees as well.

One of the best things to do in the Osa is to spend an afternoon at San Josecito Beach for a picnic lunch and horseback riding.

Of course, Corcovado National Park is not to be missed. The area is made up of the only remaining old growth wet forests on the Pacific coast of Central America, and travelers hiking through the area have the chance to spot scarlet macaws, squirrel monkeys, tapirs and even jaguars. We recommend taking your time to move through the area, soaking up the gorgeous views where the jungle juts into the rainforest, and exploring to find hidden waterfalls along the way.

The recommendations throughout this article are just a portion of our (very long) list of recommendations for things to see and do in the Osa Peninsula. From its beautiful rainforests and beaches down to the hospitality of the local Ticos, the region will always hold a special place in our hearts. To experience the beauty of the Osa firsthand, you can book an experience through our platform.

Kelley Louise

She's the Marketing Maven at Lokal and a travel entrepreneur passionate about storytelling and social good - you can find more from Kelley over at The Culture Collective and Impact Travel Alliance where she's working to transform the travel industry.