Discover what to do in the South Pacific
Tourist activities possible in the south of the country vary by area, and may be related to culture, adventure or nature.
Horseback riding in the south offers myriad possibilities for visiting natural places, communities and cultural and heritage sites, including Rivas de Perez Zeledon, Dominical, Palmar Sur, Rincon de Osa, Puerto Jimenez, Sierpe and San Vito, as well as several beaches, such as Dominical, Ballena, Tortuga, Drake, Platanares, Carate and others. In addition, the Puerto Jimenez–Preciosa Beach Preserve horseback ride takes place during Holy Week.
Hiking is a popular way to enjoy the region’s natural and cultural attractions. Outstanding areas include Chirripo, 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 roads ideal for both cycling and mountain biking. Interesting trips include Palmar Sur–Sierpe, Rincon de Osa–La Palma, Dominical–Parque Marino Ballena, Golfito–Cacao Beach, San Vito–Agua Buena and Jimenez–Carate Beach, to name just a few.
Well-developed communities offer sodas (small restaurants serving local food), cafes, restaurants and, in San Isidro de El General, the market, where visitors can sample traditional Costa Rican fare as well as international cuisine.
In the outskirts of Ciudad Neily, the Fila de Cal caverns offer visitors the adventure of exploring their many chambers.
Bird, wildlife and nature-watching
Public protected areas such as Ballena, Terraba-Sierpe, Golfito and Corcovado, as well as the Wilson Botanical Garden, offer wonderful experiences amid the region’s natural diversity.
Photography is always a very popular activity thanks to the amazing cultural, archeological and scenic subjects waiting to be photographed.
Sportfishing is easy to enjoy here, thanks to the Gulf’s riches and places like Puerto Jimenez, Golfito and Zancudo that all offer boating excursions and other sportfishing services.
Chirripó mountain race
Unique in Central America, this competition takes place every year during the last week of February, in the village of San Gerardo de Rivas in Perez Zeledon. More than 200 athletes participate from Costa Rica as well as entrants from other parts of the world in this 14k race. The ascent is steep; athletes climb from 1,000 to 3,500 meters in the Valle de los Crestones in very short times.
Rural tourism activities and services
Las Quebradas Lodge and Biological Station: Located in the town of Quebradas, eight kilometers from downtown San Isidro de El General. Activities include four trails between 500 meters to two kilometers long allow bird-watching, butterfly gardens, organic farms and coffee plantations, as well as horseback riding.
Montaña Verde environmental school: Located in the town of Rivas, eight kilometers from San Isidro de El General, on the highway to Chirripo National Park. Activities include horseback rides, shopping for handicrafts and organic coffee and visits to agro-ecological farms.
Durika lodge and biological preserve: Located 18 kilometers north of Buenos Aires de Puntarenas. Activities include hiking on the preserve’s trails and through indigenous reservations and visits to Durika Hill.
Tesoro Verde eco-lodge: Located in the village of Agujitas, four kilometers from Drake Beach. Activities include horseback tours in the mountains, guided hikes, visits to nearby waterfalls and pools and just enjoying nature.
Ernesto Perez C. Lodge and Research and Training Center: A 60-hectare preserve located in the town of Rincon, on the road to Puerto Jimenez. Activities include hiking and enjoying nature on four kilometers of trails, fishing and boat trips to the Golfo Dulce mangrove swamps.
Rey Curre handicraft shop: Located in the town of Rey Curre, 10 kilometers from Buenos Aires on the southern Interamerican highway. Handicrafts made by women artisans include engraved gourds, natural-fabric bags, masks, balsa-wood ornaments and more.
Boruca La Flor handicraft shop: Located in the town of Boruca, nine kilometers west of the southern Interamerican highway. Handicrafts include tablecloths, centerpieces, hats, engraved gourds, natural-fabric bags, masks, balsa-wood sculptures and more.
Hotel Canto de Ballenas: Located in the community of Uvita, 750 meters from Punta Uvita Beach. Activities include whale and dolphin-watching, visits to Isla del Caño, mangrove swamp and estuary tours, bird-watching, hiking on trails in tropical forest, mangrove swamps and beaches and visits to butterfly gardens.
Longo Mai lodge: Located in Buenos Aires de Puntarenas. Activities include tours to neighboring communities, forests and waterfalls. Organized guided tours are available to Cabecar hill.