Accommodations on the Osa Peninsula can be as varied as the wildlife that surrounds them. The Osa Peninsula is a rich, biodiverse paradise, a place where whales swim alongside their calves and dolphins play and turtles nest and sloths hang and jaguars prowl and insects bite your ankles. If you’re planning a vacation there, you’re my kind of people: this is the part of Costa Rica our family returns to again and again because there’s no place else like it on earth.
But figuring out where to stay can be tricky. Lodging on the Osa Peninsula is limited due to the rural nature of the area. However, if someone tells you the only options are expensive, high-end ecolodges, don’t listen to them! I’ve seen this written in big-name guides, and it’s just not true. If you have an open mind and are looking for a little adventure, you’ll find something for every budget on the Osa, from hotels to vacation rentals to camping on the beach.
You’ll want to read all the fine print carefully and decide what types of creature comforts are important to you. The Osa Peninsula is very hot and humid and home to plenty of insects. Many places will not have air conditioning, but sleeping can be very comfortable in bedrooms that are well-ventilated with an ocean breeze. Fans help, too.
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First, a Little Geography: Areas with Lodging on the Osa Peninsula
People who visit the Osa Peninsula are usually planning to visit Drake Bay (Bahia Drake), Corcovado National Park, or the gorgeous waters of the Golfo Dulce, where dolphins and whales play.
You’ll find many options in Drake Bay, ranging from hostels to mid-range inns to the high-end ecolodges listed above. Be sure to check on the exact location of whatever accommodation you are considering. Some of the places on Airbnb, for example, are actually a couple miles out of town (not good if you don’t have a car). Other small lodges are high up on the hill above the bay, which is not a walk you would want to take with small kids after a long day on a tour.
Many of the most adventurous places to stay here are on spectacular stretches of coastline that are accessible only by boat, and you will be picked up at the beach and transported to your lodge that way.
We’ve stayed before at Pirate Cove, and consider that a good option for couples or small families. I’ve always wanted to stay at Aguila de Osa, after walking by it a few times. My husband stayed at Drake Bay Wilderness Resort years ago and absolutely loved it; it’s on the list of places we want to go back to with the kids.
Don’t discount staying around Puerto Jimenez. It’s no longer a dusty little town (now that they’ve started paving it) and it’s a good home base from which to launch adventures around the Golfo Dulce (dolphin and snorkeling tours, kayaking, beach adventures, chocolate tours, fishing) and to Corcovado National Park.
Matapalo and Carate Area
If you head south on the dirt road out of Puerto Jimenez toward Matapalo and Carate, you won’t find any sort of town, but you will run in to a variety of ecolodges. The attraction of these accommodations lies in their remote location, surrounded by nature. High-end ecolodges tend to be expensive, all-inclusive places where you have all your meals at the lodge and book all your tours through your hosts.
Northern Osa Peninsula
Closer to Puerto Jimenez, on the northern Osa Peninsula, smaller villages are seeking more tourist development. This includes the tiny town of Dos Brazos, home to the newest entrance to Corcovado National Park. Here you will find a couple little inns and hostels that may suit your fancy as well.
It seems that everything in Costa Rica these days gets the “ecolodge” name stamped on it, but the Osa Peninsula is home to some of Costa Rica’s best, truest ecolodges. If you can afford it, a stay at Lapa Rios Lodge or Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge will offer true luxury within the rainforest. Both of these ecolodges are known for excellent accommodations on expansive nature reserves.
Just outside Puerto Jimenez, Iguana Lodge Beach Resort and Spa is another lovely ecolodge option. It’s directly on the beach and has a few different room options.
If you want to stay around Drake Bay, check out Copa de Arbol Beach & Rainforest Resort or Tranquilo Lodge, both of which provide luxury accommodations and claim the ecolodge/eco resort name but do provide air conditioning.
If you are looking to get as far from civilization as possible, there’s a smattering of lodges around Carate. This little village is on the ocean and adjacent to Corcovado National Park, where the air drums so loudly with insects at dusk that you can barely hold a conversation. Luna Lodge is our favorite out here.
All of these ecolodges are in remote locations without many restaurants nearby, and you can expect prices to be all inclusive with three meals a day provided.
Hotels With Air Conditioning
The Osa Peninsula is, thankfully, rich in unique accommodations and short on cookie-cutter air conditioned hotels. You won’t find a Best Western or a Marriott out here, but that’s one of the reasons we love this area so much. If you are looking for air conditioning, your options may be limited, although more and more places are offering this amenity.
Agua Dulce Beach Resort, which is located on the beach just outside Puerto Jimenez (between Waleska’s Place and Iguana Lodge), is a pleasant option in this category. We’ve stayed there in the past, and while the rooms are rather nondescript, they have air conditioning, and there is a lovely swimming pool and restaurant in a beautiful beachfront location.
Tip: if you are staying nearby at a place without a pool, Agua Dulce Beach Resort will allow day use of their pool for a small fee, as long as they are not too busy. This is a lifesaver with small children, as the ocean here can be too rough for swimming, depending on the tides.
If you aren’t renting a car and need a room in town in Puerto Jimenez, Cabinas Jimenez has a good reputation.
If you’re looking for a sport fishing expedition, Crocodile Bay Resort in Puerto Jimenez has lovely air-conditioned rooms.
Small Inns and Guesthouses and Tent Camps
There are some very unique places to stay on the Osa. Waleskas Place, for example, is a beachfront paradise on Playa Plantanares about five miles outside of Puerto Jimenez — a series of rustic tents and bungalows along sandy paths. If you want to stay in comfortable tents nearby Corcovado National Park, check out La Leona Eco Lodge.
Usually these places will provide a communal breakfast, and sometimes dinner, too. Meeting other guests at small lodges like these is one of our favorite parts about traveling, although it gets a little more challenging once you have kids.
Airbnb and VRBO
Given the size of our family and our quest for solitude, our preference these days is renting a home. There are some spectacular home rentals on the Osa, and some of them will come with cooks and housekeepers. This is still the jungle (you are unlikely to find air conditioning, Wi-Fi may be spotty, and you should expect bugs), but there are some really unique accommodations to be had if you look hard enough.
Additionally, many smaller inns and guesthouses will use Airbnb exclusively to book their rooms. I spoke to the owner of one such establishment in the tiny town of Dos Brazos and he told me it just made sense financially to do all his booking this way. On the VRBO platform, you will likely find true vacation rental homes. On Airbnb, you will find all sorts of accommodations, so read the descriptions carefully before booking.
There are options for the budget traveler, although I probably wouldn’t attempt them with my own gaggle of children. Look for cabinas, the local term for a small motel-type set up, and for hostels on Airbnb.
In Puerto Jimenez, Hotel y Restaurante Carolina is located right in the middle of town and popular with budget travelers. The aforementioned Waleskas Place is one of the least expensive beachfront options you will find.
In Dos Brazos, Los Mineros Guesthouse is an inexpensive place to stay.
If you have a favorite place to stay on the Osa Peninsula that we haven’t mentioned, drop us a line by email or on social media and let us know what we’ve missed!