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 extremely bio-diverse Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay offers a magical experience to all visitors with its abundant wildlife, incredible rainforests and beautiful coastal views. It’s an excellent place to relax, experience the rainforest and beaches and visit Corcovado National Park.
Drake Bay is in the Puntarenas province, 368 kilometers (229 miles) from San Jose. The main town is called Agujitas and has a population of around 1000 full time residents.
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!
How to Get to Drake Bay
Drake Bay is located in the northwest side of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. Getting to Drake Bay is half the fun due to its remote location.
You can get to Drake Bay by plane, car, bus or boat. The easiest and fastest way to get to Drake Bay is to fly into the local Drake Bay Airport (50 minutes from San Jose). The most popular way is to take the boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay (1-1.5 hours). Read our detailed guide on how to get to Drake Bay by plane, boat and car.
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 Air to the Drake Bay local airport. This flight has amazing views of the Osa Peninsula and the coast. The 50 minute flight from San Jose airport costs around $180 USD one way depending on the time of year.
Sometimes the flight will stop in Quepos before Drake Bay and this will take 1 hour. In high season, there are normally 7-8 flights from San Jose to Drake Bay in one day.
By Boat from Sierpe
There is a public taxi boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay that runs twice a day: 11:30 AM and 4 PM. It costs $20 USD per person and the boat ride is around 1 hour. This boat ride is really fun 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 leave your rental car in a parking lot in Sierpe while you are in Drake Bay. This option is for those who still want their rental car after they come back from Drake Bay.
Another option is to visit Drake Bay as your last destination in your itinerary. If you do it this way, then you can have the your car rental agency pick up the car in Sierpe. Then after your time in Drake Bay, you’ll fly to San Jose International Airport for your flight home. Our partner Adobe Rent a Car picks up cars at Sierpe dock and we will be happy to assist our readers who rent a car through us with our Costa Rica car rental discount to arrange their car rental return/pick up in Sierpe.
If you’re on a budget, you can take the public bus. However, there isn’t really a direct one to Drake Bay so the best option is to bus to Sierpe to catch the boat.
From San Jose, you can take a bus to Palmar Norte, then to Sierpe and then take the boat.
If you need to drive to Drake Bay, you can. From Sierpe, it takes around 3 hours and a high clearance car is recommended. In rainy season, a 4×4 is required. This route is not completely paved, but it is doable, especially in dry season.
Read our in-depth guide to driving to Drake Bay here.
If you’re renting a car, get our Costa Rica car rental discount and extra benefits!
What to Know About Visiting Drake Bay: The Town
The small town of Agujitas in Drake Bay has a handful of restaurants and hotels. Drake Bay has grown quite a bit in the last few years. New hotels, restaurants and vacation rentals appear each year.
However, not all businesses 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.
The main town of Agujitas is home to the main beach called Playa Colorada. The public boat drops off and picks clients up from there.
You’ll see lot of stray dogs running around and playing on the beach, people laying in hammocks and locals riding around on bikes. Being such a small town in a remote destination in Costa Rica, the local residents of Drake Bay are very laid back beach people.
More and more of them work in tourism, as Drake Bay’s popularity has soared in the last couple years but many locals still stick to their roots, farming and fishing for a living.
Drake Bay Hotels
Most of the lodging options are small boutique hotels, modest cabins and hostel like rooms. The more expensive hotels usually some sort of rainforest resort, located a bit outside of town in the hills and offer all inclusive packages.
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. $$$
Copa de Arbol: This eco-luxury resort is on 70 acres of rainforest. Their cabinas have air conditioning and are just steps away from the beach. It’s an all-inclusive hotel with a spa.
Pirate Cove: They offer mid-range lodging right on the beach. Pirate Cove has 10 cabins, deluxe cabins, bungalows and 3 rooms with AC and an ocean view pool. You can also take their PADI diving courses.
Aguila de Osa Rainforest & Marine Adventure Lodge: Upscale rainforest resort with only 13 rooms. All have ocean views and balconies. No air conditioning. Their property has their own trail to other beaches like Playa Cocalito and connects to Playa SanJosecito. Walking distance to town. Check out our video review here. $$$
Some other options are Martina’s Place, Sukia Hostel, Pacheco Cabins, Vista Drake Lodge and Rancho Corcovado Lodge. All simple, basic lodging near town and close to the beach.
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 Drake Lodge.
Drake Bay Restaurants and Services
As mentioned before, there isn’t a proper bank or ATM in Drake Bay. Make sure to bring plenty of cash in local currency. USD is OK but local currency is best.
There are several mini markets, restaurants, tour centers, clothing stores, local bakeries, scuba diving shop, liquor stores, ATV rentals and a dental clinic in Drake Bay now. You’ll see a ton of signs for tours.
Some restaurants in Drake Bay to check out are Kalauna Bistro, Marisqueria Roberto’s, Gaby’s Fast Food Truck, Soda Mar Y Bosque, Restaurante La Choza, Restaurante Delicias, Claudio’s Grill and Marea Alta.
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.
Playa San Josecito
Arguably the best beach in Drake Bay, Playa San Josecito is perfect for those who like hiking, jungle and beach. You can take a boat there but it’s more of an epic adventure to walk. It’s about a 2 hour walk from the Aguila de Osa Resort trail. You can also stop by Cocalito Beach on the way.
We recommend to visit in the morning, it’s best not to walk the trail from Playa San Josecito at night. But if you want to visit there in the afternoon to watch the sunset, we recommend to arrange a boat with your hotel to bring you back (around 20 minute boat ride).
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.
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.
This is only during certain times of year when it’s very clear and the water clarity is good. This nighttime tour will take you to a spot in Drake Bay to see bioluminesence which is super cool! You get to swim and float around in it which makes you feel like you’re swimming around in a shimmering lightbulb.
How to Plan an Itinerary with Drake Bay
We’ve written a 1 month Costa Rica itinerary that has Drake Bay as the last destination. However, you can condense this itinerary down to two or three weeks to fit your needs.
If you want to have an easy visit to Drake Bay, the best way is to book a hotel that offers a package with roundtrip transportation, activities and meals included. This is for those who want a more luxury experience in Drake Bay. Aguila de Osa Rainforest and Marine Lodge offers packages with lodging, roundtrip transportation by private boat from Sierpe and activities (Corcovado National Park/Cano Island Snorkeling).
Read About Other Similar Tourist Destinations in Costa Rica
Costa Rica Vacation Checklist
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