We had always planned to hike into Corcavado National Park at the tip of the Osa to the Sirena ranger station and stay over for a few days marveling at one of the most bio-diverse areas of North America. When I had originally researched it, you could do the hike solo with a little planning. Effective February 1, 2014 all people entering the park are required to have a certified guide. This takes a lot more planning and a lot more money (I looked and most of the guides we found were charging around $500 for two people for the three day hike). So instead of hiking into Corcovado, we decided to get as close to it as we could and do the “poor mans Osa,” seeing as much wild landscape and wildlife as we could before we hit the end of the road at Corcovado.
Playa Pan Dulce
First off, driving on this side of the peninsula is easy compared to the Drake bay side. Much more pavement and a lot less rivers to cross. Our first night here was spent free camping at Playa Pan Dulce in a shaded nook next to the ocean. This was a pretty beach, but not great for swimming so we only stayed a night.
We loved this beach! There was so much wildlife that I spent two days watching monkeys and scarlet macaws all around us for hours at a time. I just could not get enough of the monkeys. They are crazy cute and would fly through the trees in large groups with babies on their backs! Matapalo also had a good beach break with crystal blue water and during the mornings we watched surfers brave the strong waves.
The current was the only bad part of this beach, it was very powerful and swimming felt dangerous. After our first night here I texted Toby and Chloe, because we also had a wifi signal on our sim card for some crazy reason, and begged them they to come join us. Chloe goes nuts for monkeys, and we missed the company, so I lured her with promises of crazy wildlife and a homemade Thai red curry.
Warning, many animal pics to come…..
The final beach before you arrive at Corcovado park is Carate beach. It is long, wild, rough and beautiful. The drive here was across a few smaller rivers and through jungle. It was a really pretty drive and the road was not bad at all. On this beach there were only a few access points on the beach, so we decided to just drive up and find a place to camp, right on the sand. We were so close to the tide line I was a little nervous, but it all worked out. The four of us tried to swim a few times and were taken on a roller coaster ride in the powerful breakers. This was a very unsafe beach to swim at, but also really fun. Not recommended for anyone but a strong swimmer.