When it comes to remote, not overly touristic destinations in Costa Rica, Drake Bay climbs to the top of the list. As a beautiful lush bay in the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay offers a magical experience to all visitors with abundant wildlife, incredible nature and beautiful coastal views. It’s an excellent place to relax or explore Corcovado National Park.
Sir Francis Drake is believed to have used this bay as a port (hence the name) on one of his voyages. Rumor has it that he even hid one of his treasures in the area in the late 16th century! The main town in the Bay is Agujitas with about 1,000 residents. Here’s all you need to know about visiting the enchanting Drake Bay (Bahia Drake).
Drake Bay Map
Drake Bay is in the Puntarenas province, 368 kilometers (229 miles) from San Jose.
How to get to Drake Bay
Drake Bay is located in the northwest side of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. You can get to Drake Bay by plane, car, bus or boat.
This is the easiest and fastest but also the most expensive way to get to Drake Bay. You can take a local flight on Sansa to the Drake Bay local airport. This flight has amazing views of the Osa Peninsula and the coast. The 1 hour flight from San Jose airport costs around $110 USD one way depending on the time of year.
This is a really fun and adventurous way to travel. There is a taxi boat from La Perla Restaurant in Sierpe to Drake Bay that runs twice a day: 11:30 AM and 4 PM. It costs ~$15 USD for 11:30 AM boat and ~$20 USD for the 4 PM boat per person. It takes around 1 hour and you get gorgeous views of the Sierpe mangrove and the coast. Read our complete guide to taking the boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay.
For those arriving to the dock in a car rental: you can drive to the Sierpe dock and park it there for your days in Drake Bay. There is a parking lot at the La Perla/Las Vegas Restaurant at the Sierpe boat dock.
Another option is to have the your car rental agency pick up the car at the dock and then you will fly to your next destination from Drake Bay. Our partner Adobe Rent a Car picks up cars at Sierpe dock. When planning your itinerary, we recommend to visit Drake Bay last if you are going to rent a car, so that you can return the car in Sierpe and fly directly back to San Jose for your flight out of SJO Airport.
Though the cheapest, this isn’t the most efficient method of transportation. From San Jose, you can take a bus to Palmar Norte, then to Sierpe and then take the boat. If you want to take the bus all the way to Drake Bay, you can take a bus from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez, get off at La Palma (Osa) and grab the local collective bus to Drake Bay at 4:45 PM ish (if it comes and not sure the schedule due to COVID changes).
You should have a high clearance car to get to Drake Bay. They have built bridges over the rivers so you don’t have to cross rivers anymore at least. A 4wd/4×4 is required in rainy season. This road is not completely paved.
If you’re renting a car, get our Costa Rica car rental discount and extra benefits!
What to Know About Visiting Drake Bay
This small town has a handful of restaurants and hotels. Drake Bay is growing slowly with a couple of new hotels and businesses every year. However, this area does not readily accept credit card and there are no ATMs or banks in Drake Bay so make sure you bring plenty of cash.
Some of the hotels don’t take credit card and require you to pay for your entire stay in cash so make sure to get enough (USD or CRC).
Read more about handling money in Costa Rica.
Keep in mind that Drake Bay may not be the right place for all travelers, especially those looking for better infrastructure and more amenities. But if you come with an open mind, you will have an amazing time as what makes Drake Bay special is the pristine nature and freedom of wildlife. Embrace that and your time in the Bay will leave ever lasting memories for the rest of your life.
Drake Bay Hotels
Most of the lodging options are small boutique hotels and modest cabins. The more expensive hotels are generally located outside of town in the hills and offer all inclusive packages. There are taxis they can call to get you to town when you want to. The cheaper places are closer to town and usually include breakfast.
Tranquilo Lodge: This hotel up in the hills offers some of the best views of the bay from the infinity pool. They have modern cabins, AC and Internet. It’s an all-inclusive hotel and prices include 3 meals a day and transportation. Read our review of Tranquilo Lodge here. $$$
Copa de Arbol: This eco-luxury resort is on 70 acres of rainforest. Their cabinas have AC and are just steps away from the beach. It’s an all-inclusive hotel with a spa. Click here for the latest rates at Copa de Arbol Beach & Rainforest Resort $$$
Pirate Cove: They offer mid-range lodging right on the beach. Pirate Cove has 10 cabins, deluxe cabins, bungalows and 3 rooms with AC and an ocean view pool. You can also take their PADI diving courses. Click here for the latest rates at Pirate Cove $$-$$$
Drake Bay Backpackers: This non profit hostel is in El Progreso, great for those on a budget. The hostel has a lounge with hammocks, a communal kitchen, nature trails, a volleyball court and a library. They have dorms and private rooms.
You can now find more vacation rentals and Airbnbs in Drake Bay as more foreigners build rental homes and self catering accommodation, such as Southern Darke Lodge.
Drake Bay Restaurants
There aren’t a ton of options but there are some.
Restaurante Delicias: Best spot for vegetarians. They offer a variety of vegetarian food, beyond the typical veggie casado. It’s in the center of town so it’s in a convenient location.
Claudio’s Grill: Claudio’s Grill has probably the best meat in town. The chef makes his own sauce and they serve prime cuts of meat. Definitely try the coconut mushroom one.
Drake’s Kitchen: Enjoy the catch of the day with a side of patacones and a blended fruit smoothie at Drake’s Kitchen. They have local food and seafood.
Things to do in Drake Bay
There are plenty of activities and adventures in and around Drake Bay to add some excitement to your trip.
Caño Island Snorkeling
This is considered the 2nd best place in Costa Rica to see abundant marine life with turtles, rays, dolphins and a huge variety of colorful tropical fish to be seen.
If you have your diving certification, go scuba diving at Cano Island, about a 45 minute boat ride from the Bay. If not, you can go snorkeling.
Read about our experience snorkeling at Caño Island.
Whale and dolphin watching
Drake Bay is one of the best spots to see humpback whales in Costa Rica, but the world. Both Northern and Southern humpback whales pass by the bay so you have an excellent chance of seeing these magnificent mammals out at sea. Divine Dolphin is a great company to go with to see dolphins and whales in Drake Bay.
Corcovado National Park
Don’t miss your chance to visit Corcovado National Park, one of the most biologically diverse places on earth when in Drake Bay. Take a day trip to San Pedrillo Station or Sirena Station to see wildlife such as tapirs, four different monkeys, birds and more. Sirena station in Corcovado National Park is close to Drake Bay and offers the best opportunities to see mammals. I finally got to see my first tapir on this day hike!
Go deep sea fishing from Drake Bay to catch fish like marlin, sailfish, and wahoo.
You can hike to Rio Claro on your own or you can take a tour to visit this beautiful clear river. Tours vary from horseback riding, swimming in the river, waterfalls and snorkeling.
The world is a different place when night falls and you can see wildlife that thrives at night on a tour. See spiders and insects with Tracie the bug lady or other animals on different night tours. Another type of night tour is the bioluminesence snorkeling and kayaking (available only certain times of the year).
Sierpe Mangrove Tour
Venture into one of the biggest mangroves in Central America by boat or kayak. You’ll see wildlife such as caimans, monkeys, snakes and a variety of birds.
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Matt W says
Just wanted to note that there are bridges across all rivers on the road to Drake Bay now. Ruta 245 from Chacarita on Ruta 2 to Rincon is entirely paved and easy. The last 25km to Drake Bay are on mostly easy-to-drive dirt roads. There are a couple of steep hills and a couple of spots that need high clearance. There’s a spot about 5km before the bay where you have to take a left turn to reach the new bridge across the Rio Drake, but there are many signs there pointing you in the right direction. We drove the road in late July during a rainstorm and had no problems.
Awesome thanks for the update! What kind of car did you guys drive?
Hello. I am looking to travel to Drake Bay for a few days at the end of the week Anything I should know about places being closed due to COVID? thank you very much
Right now pretty much we don’t have any restrictions!
Thank you for all your content it is amazing! 😀
I hesitate between Uvita, Drake Bay and Jaguar Hostal on the Peninsula because I would like to see whales, do the cano snorkeling and maybe a jungle/waterfall trip in 3/4 days mid March. Which one do you recommend, please? (ps: I’ll take my flight back to France at 9PM the last day from San Jose).
Around mid March, the whale season is ending so the chances of seeing whales does go down a lot like 40% or so
Your website has the BEST information for travel planning! I love that you’ve included all of the details, with prices and photos/videos. I’ve bookmarked several of your pages for our upcoming trip in December. Traveling to Drake was one of the things I’ve found most confusing, but you’ve cleared it up perfectly. Thank you!
I’m traveling to Osa peninsula in about a week. We’re looking at the places that you recommended (specifically Copa de Arbol and Tranquilo Lodge) We saw that you said prices start at 240 for copa and 120 for tranquilo lodge, however when we went to their website prices were 500+ a night for both places. I wasn’t sure if prices just went up since this blog was posted or if i’m looking in the wrong place. Would you be able to help us with this? We’re looking to spend about 275$ max per night. Thanks!
Hi Sab, I haven’t updated those prices in awhile (sorry) and we went to Tranquilo Lodge in 2015 so I would say it most definitely went up.
we are planning to visit Costa Rica over Christmas. We are planning to visit Arenal then beach/diving. Would you recommend us to go to Drake Bay so we could dive in Cano Island or to Conchal so we could dive in Catalina/Bat island? Which beach will be nicer?
Thank you very much!
Drake Bay is really far from Arenal so if you don’t want to have to travel so much, Catalinas is better from Conchal
Hola. que recomiendas para llegar a Drake en agosto 2020? tomar el ferry para el carro? o ir en bote?
Que lugares recomiendas para alojarte?
Hola, es mejor en bote porque las calles hacia Bahia Drake estan en mal mal estados. El bote es muy chiva porque va dentro el mangroves de Sierpe y hacia al mar. Tenemos un articulo que puede leer mas sobre el bote: Sierpe to Drake Bay boat
Bahia Drake no tiene muchos hoteles pero hay dos lujosos muy bonitos: Copa del Arbol y Tranquilo Lodge.
Hi Yeison and Samantha, just a quick update for your website: we’ve been to Restaurante Delicias yesterday and they barely offered any vegetarian food, basically two pizzas and a salad.
Thank you for putting this together it is so helpful! Are there any grocery stores in Drake Bay or do we need to stock up before coming? Thank you!
Hi Ashleigh, for full service supermarkets, I would stock up before going to Drake Bay, you’ll find the smaller markets and convenience stores.
Hi, I am travelling down to Drake bay in a couple of weeks time. I saw you said about bringing cash, do restaurants and shops not have card machines?
Hi Ella, a lot of rural areas such as Drake Bay in Costa Rica don’t take credit cards. Some of the higher end hotels may do but if you go to the places like the small local restaurants, it’s mostly cash.
Lisa Croot says
We are thinking of making a trip to Drake Bay late September 2020. Is the weather just too bad with rain to enjoy it and day trips like Cano Island, Corcavado park and such? Not sure if its better to go into Uvita if so! Thanks for any insight. We are considering Aquila Osa Inn if that helps.
End of September does get pretty rainy and the ocean gets pretty rough in that area so if it’s storming, the waves and boat ride is usually rough down there (not a smooth boat ride) but you can still do tours as the operators know the conditions and will call it off it they deem it dangerous. You will just need to be aware that Sept is one of the rainier months and the South Pacific does tend to rain quite a bit.
Drake Bay is actually a lot closer to Corcovado and Caño Island than Uvita. From Drake Bay, it’s about a 30-40 minute boat ride to Caño Island, it’s 1.5 hours from Uvita. Drake Bay is very close to Sirena and San Pedrillo ranger stations in Corcovado NP (like 30 minute boat ride or so), from Uvita it’s also 1.5 hours.
Hi Kirsten, unfortunately it hasn’t finished yet. This is very common in Costa Rica due to all the bureaucracy and slow construction and they’re not sure when it will be done.
I have read that there is a new bridge across the Drake river, which should be open since february 2019. Is this information correct or are they still working on it?
Gringo Curt’s Seafood unfortunately seems to be closed right now.
Will be traveling to Drakes Bay soon coming from Puerto Viejo. Do you suggest traveling via San Jose or the mountain route? We are still deciding if we should take the boat or drive the entire way to Drakes Bay. Any updates on current conditions of the roads all the way to Drakes Bay?
Hi Leela, I’d take the boat just because it’s way more fun and the views are super nice. Road conditions are the same for Drake (not paved, not great) but if are renting a 4×4, you can drive it now in the dry season.
Hi, thanks for your great blog, I’m learning a ton about Costa Rica in advance of my first visit in a few weeks. We’ll be coming to the Osa via Zancudo–can you tell me if there’s a good way to get to Drake Bay overland from Port Jim? Or do you have to go up and around and approach from the north? Trying to decide between staying at Drake or in the jungle on the East side of the park. Cheers!
You’ll need to drive up north from Puerto Jimenez to get to the road to Drake bay, that’s the only one. You can’t drive straight across since it’s the national park and indigenous land so you’re not allowed to drive through there. All overlanders go the route off of the 245 to Drake that way.
Thanks! We decided to stay closer to the East side and enter from near Rio Tigre/Dos Brazos, easier to do without a car. Appreciate your input!
Hi, we are travelling to Costa Rica for two weeks and we are going from Puerto Viejo to Bahia Drake by car (it’s 10hrs trip), so we are thinking in doing several stops, and spend the night in one of them, which ones do you recommend us? San Jose? Jacó? Uvita? We would like to not be very far from our destination (3/4 hr max)
Also I would like to ask which hot springs are better in La Fortuna? Are the free ones nice?
Many many thanks
Hello, I would recommend San Jose and then Uvita. Puerto Viejo to San Jose is around 5 hours, then San Jose to Uvita is around 3.5 and then Uvita to Drake is 3-4 hours.
You can read in this post about the hot springs in La Fortuna: Best Arenal hot springs
Is there a boat taxi from jaco or quepos to drake bay? If so, how much?
No, only Montezuma to Jaco.
hi guys, what is the best way to get from san jose to drake bay? i was looking at the flight option – Sansa air, but unable to connect to their website (seems their server problem). have you hear of Skyway? any feedback or review on this new airline?
Hi Katherine! The best way is to fly. We actually work with Skyway CR and have a promo code with them, it is SWMTF18 and you get 10% off and an extra 10 lbs of luggage 🙂
Joan Levinsohn says
Your blog is the best!! I can’t believe how many places you have marked on your map. Great information. I have a general question that I get lots of different answers. I will be going to Drakes Bay for one week and I would like to know if I need to get the Typhoid shot. I get lots of mixed information.
Hi Joan! Glad it’s helpful and you like it! Typhoid is not mandatory but I know the US CDC recommends it. I don’t believe I have gotten a typhoid shot, so it’s up to you since typhoid fever is not common here and not a problem.
Hi there, you mention the second best diving in Costa Rica in this post. Just wondering what you consider to be THE BEST diving in Costa Rica? Thanks so much!
Hi Bekki, that would be Cocos Island. That’s the best diving in Costa Rica.
how long is the drive to drake from Uvita
Hello Brian, it depends of the weather and time of year usually in the dry season around 3 hours and in the rainy season a little bit more, you need to have a 4×4 just in case.
Hi Polina, thanks for reading our blog! You can read about Puerto Jimenez and see a video of what the town and roads are like in this post: Costa Rica road conditions(skip to Puerto Jimenez). You can definitely get there by car but still requires a 4×4 and you can see in the video why 🙂
Thank you guys for you blog and information you share with us! We are planning to visit Corcovado in the beginning of June, but I have some doubts about the road. We will have rented 4*4, I read here, that it will be impossible to reach Drake Bay because of rivers and wet season, right? What about Puerto Jimenez, will it be possible to get there by car?
Hi guys- Once we get to Drake Bay (and “how” we do that is still yet to be decided!), is the area relatively easy to get around on foot or do we need to rely on taxis or tour shuttles?
Cindy & Russ
It depends on which hotel you stay at, there are hotels in town and around. You can walk to town from most of them but it may be up to 30 minutes depending on where it is. If you stay on the outer part of town your hotel can call you a taxi if you don’t want to walk.
Ryan Biddulph says
Awesomeness guys. We visited Playa Dominicalito a few months back. A few more hours down the road and we’d hit Drake’s Bay. We did enjoy remote jungle living for 6 weeks in Buena Vista, a community of….um…..12 LOL….on the Caribbean side DEEP in the wilderness, some 3 miles away from human beings. Got our taste of remote living but we’d swing through DB to taste the Pacific side of things.
The South is amazing. Hope you get to visit Drake one day!
Tim and Anne Hall says
We’re absolutely planning to get to Drake Bay in the future. Thanks for the great advice on getting there. We’re of to Playas del Coco next week for 3 month. We regularly follow your blog and FB page. Tim & Anne
Hi guys, hope you make it, it’s amazing! Enjoy Coco 🙂