A few months ago, I decided I wanted to visit my family in Costa Rica, but while I was there I wanted to explore one of the few regions I had never been to, and decided upon the Osa Peninsula. Although I have spent a lot of time in Costa Rica, I had never been to Osa before, so I reached out to Kacie because the logistics of getting to and staying in Osa are more complicated than most other places I've been.
I was truly blown away. I am a teacher, but somehow I ended up living like royalty for a few days. Kacie arranged all of the flights and transfers, as well as most of the activities I did while I was there. I have no idea how Kacie seemed to know EXACTLY what I was looking for, but she nailed it! I really didn't have to do anything other than show up; everything was taken care of and went off seamlessly.
To get to the Osa Peninsula from San Jose I had to take a short flight, and I ended up being the only passenger on the plane! It was just me, the two pilots, and the cooler of refreshments they had packed for me. Getting to see the beautiful Costa Rican landscape from the air by way of private jet (aka one-engine plane:) was incredible and a new experience for me; I felt like a rockstar! As soon as my plane landed at the Drake Bay airstrip in Osa, a car pulled up and took me to a beach, where it dropped me off just as a small boat was arriving. The boat then took me to my hotel, Aguila de Osa, whose main entrance is where the Rio Drake meets the ocean.
Upon arriving, I was greeted with a welcome cocktail and sipped it while overlooking the ocean as the staff (who addressed me by name in every interaction I had with them!) gave me the lay of the land and told me my various options for activities over the next few days.
The first excursion was a tour through Corcovado National Park. The only way to access park (at least as far as I know), was from the beach, so I was picked up in the morning in a boat. The boat ride along the coast to get to the park entrance was like an excursion in itself. The views of the waves breaking against the volcanic rocks that punctuated the coastline as we cruised along could have held my attention for hours.
Upon arriving at Corcovado, we saw a tapir sleeping in the brush before we'd even entered the park. Corcovado was teeming with wildlife, and we saw everything from monkeys to bats to caymans to sloths, and about half a dozen different bird species, not to mention various kinds of tropical plants. All of the guides and park staff were clearly invested in protecting the natural environment, which was nice to see. To top it off, the kitchen staff at the park station had even prepared me a vegan meal for lunch, and it was delicious! Corcovado is definitely a great option for anyone who travels to Costa Rica with the intention of seeing a large number of plants and animals in a relatively small area.
Not to be outdone by Corcovado National Park, the river on which my hotel was situated was equally spectacular. Aguila de Osa has kayaks that are included with the stay, so guests can just walk down and take out a kayak whenever they want. After getting back from the park, I just hopped into a kayak on a whim, thinking I'd paddle around for an hour or so. Because there are only a handful of places to stay in the area, the only other person I encountered while kayaking was one other guest from my hotel. We paddled up the river together for a while and just couldn't believe how beautiful it all was. The water was peaceful and cool, and I was again mesmerized by watching the landscape slide by; I couldn't take my eyes of the vines dripping down into river, the little waterfalls along the riverbanks, and just how vividly green everything was. Eventually we got to a point where the rocks were large and we were unable to paddle any farther, but it was the perfect place to stop and take a dip.
Heading back down river we hardly had to paddle at all, and I just relaxed and zenned out as the gentle current carried my kayak back toward the hotel. Once we reached the hotel, neither of us was ready to go in, so we decided to go out into the bay (the river feeds directly into it) and check out a nearby beach. I have virtually no kayaking experience, and I was surprised at how easy it was to paddle through the ocean. After spending some time on the beach, it was getting close to dusk and we decided to paddle back out into the bay in order to get an optimal view of the sunset. One of the best decisions I have ever made. I won't try to describe the sunset that we saw that evening because I wouldn't come close to doing it justice, but suffice it to say that that memory will stay with me for the rest of my life. I still kind of wish I had a picture of it, but I was too absorbed in the moment to take out my phone, and also afraid of dropping it in the ocean:) All I did that afternoon was hop into a kayak on a whim, and three hours later I had seen the sunset of a lifetime.
I had planned to go snorkeling while I was on Osa, but because of low water visibility in the intended area, it never worked out during the days I was there. One of the alternative options that the staff at Aguila de Osa offered me was to go horseback riding. I thought it might have been something they'd just thrown together to make up for the fact that I couldn't go snorkeling, but that couldn't have been further from the truth. I had a guide all to myself, and with the exception of a couple of miles getting away from and returning to the hotel, the ride itself was through a river. Not across a river, but literally riding a horse IN a river for a few miles. Most of the time the water was only a few inches deep, but some of the time it came up to my knees/the horse's belly. I grew up riding horses, but riding a horse in a river was a brand new experience for me! My horse from childhood would have lost his mind and thrown me before we'd even set foot in the river, but these horses were troopers and obviously accustomed to traversing wet rocky terrain. The little mare I was riding clearly knew more than I did, and, contrary to typical horse-back riding, I turned all of the decision making over to her and let her navigate the river. At one point we passed a small cayman in the river and my little mare didn't even bat an eye! I really didn't have to do anything other than sit back and enjoy the scenery, which was, obviously, stunning. Eventually we came to a point where we had to dismount and continue on foot to reach our intended destination: the waterfall. During our brief hike to the falls, my guide Melvin, who was fantastic, taught me about some of the plants and their medicinal uses and told me about local conservation efforts. We swam around for a bit at the base of the falls and then rode back down the river the same way we'd come. Needless to say, this was NOT a second-best alternative to snorkeling. I really had no idea how incredible the experience was going to be when the woman at the hotel asked, "Would you be interested in horse-back riding?" and I was like, "Yeah, sure." I've traveled a lot, toured around Costa Rica a lot, ridden horses a lot, and this was still one of the coolest things I have ever done.
When recounting this trip, I'd be remiss not to sing the praises of Aguila de Osa. The hotel is small (I think it only has 15 rooms), so the staff is able to give every guest very personalized attention. The rooms are very private and come with their own patio/hammock area; even the nearby beaches have so few people that I often I had the beach area all to myself. The chef and bartenders are phenomenal, and the food and drinks were superb. I was very impressed with how well the kitchen staff could accommodate dietary needs (I am a vegan) and still prepare delicious and exciting meals. I had a 4-course dinner served to me every night as I gazed out over the Pacific, and after dinner and cocktails I would retreat to my private hammock to listen to the ocean, the rain, or watch a late-night thunderstorm roll through before going to bed. Aguila de Osa is truly committed to sustainability, which is important to me, and it shows in everything that they do from the locally-sourced menu to the paper straws and bamboo drink stirrers that they serve in the restaurant. I am already dreaming about when I can go back there.
Even having lived in Costa Rica and been there to visit more times than I know offhand, I was still struck at the beauty of the Osa Peninsula and would count this as one of the best trips I have ever taken. The Drake Bay area of the Osa Peninsula seems a world away even from other parts of Costa Rica, and it was a wonderful place to just let the rest of the world go for a few days. It was perfect for the traveler who wants some outdoorsy adventures but also appreciates a little pampering at the end of the day.
A big THANK YOU to Lauren for taking the time to write such an incredible blog post for us!!
Ready for your trip to Costa Rica?