Sitting in the northern corner of the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay offers an escape from the crowds surrounded by dense jungle and beaches. With a small town consisting of a couple pulperias and sodas, Drake Bay is the ideal spot for a few days of peace and quiet or as a home base to explore the Osa Peninsula.
It’s considered the most remote place in Costa Rica and is quite an adventure to get there. If you’re visiting Drake Bay, read our guide on taking the boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay.
How to Get to Drake Bay
Getting to Drake Bay is quite an adventure itself as it’s one of the most remote places in Costa Rica. There are three ways to get there: boat, plane or car/bus, each with their own pros and cons.
- Plane: There are a few local airlines that fly into Drake Bay, the main one being Sansa. You get stunning views of the coastline. Flights are about 40 minutes and around $180 one way in high season.
- Bus: From San Jose, you can take the bus to Sierpe (830 AM with Empresa Tracopa from Calle 5, Ave 18-20). It takes 4.5 hours and runs everyday.
- From Puerto Jimenez, you can grab the bus to San Jose and ask the driver to drop you off at La Osa. Then you have to flag down the local bus at around 445 PM to get the bus to Drake. Though it’s cheap, the bus to Drake Bay is also a local colectivo and runs only once a day (if it comes).
- Driving: There is one road that leads you all the way to Drake Bay, which is pretty wild so it is required to have a 4×4. It’s safer to drive in dry season when water levels are low. Driving isn’t recommended in rainy season where water levels can get very high and you can get stranded due to heavy rains and storms.
- Boat: The most common method to get to Drake Bay. Take a taxi boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay, about one hour.
Renting a Car
If you’re planing on renting a car and taking the boat, here is the information on how to do it. We also have a Costa Rica car rental discount (click to make a reservation) with Adobe Rent a Car.
Returning a car in Sierpe: There aren’t car rental companies in Siepre but companies will pick up the car there for an extra fee. With Adobe, their closest office is in Uvita but they can pick up and deliver to the Sierpe dock for a fee.
So you can drive to Sierpe dock, have Adobe pick up the car and then go to Drake Bay so you don’t need to worry about parking the car. The latest Adobe can go to Sierpe dock is at 1 PM so you need to take the earlier boat.
Renting a car in Sierpe: Then if you want to rent a car after your Drake Bay trip, Adobe can deliver the car to Sierpe dock when you arrive so you don’t need to go to their office in Uvita. You also have to take the earliest boat because Adobe doesn’t deliver the car to Sierpe dock past 1 PM.
Taking the boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay
Taking the boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay is very fun and has gorgeous views. Many hotels include boat transportation in their packages but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to arrange it by yourself.
Here is the map of the route you will take for the boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay.
You can see you will go through the Sierpe mangroves and out onto the coast for this boat ride.
Getting to Sierpe
The launch point for the boats is in Sierpe so whether you’re driving, going with a shuttle or taking the bus, you need to get to the La Perla del Sur restaurant next to Hotel Oleaje Sereno.
If you’re taking the bus, there are buses from Palmar Norte to Sierpe everyday at 4:30, 7, 9:30, 11, 13:30, 14:30 and 17:00 which takes about 40 minutes.
If you’re driving, stay on the Costeanera Sur until you reach the intersection for Palmar Norte, about 45 minutes from Uvita. Take a right at the main intersection, go across the bridge and take the next immediate right (there are signs) to Sierpe, another 10-15 minutes drive.
Stay on the main road once you reach Sierpe and drive all the way through town until you see a big sign that says La Perla del Sur Adventures. Turn left and this is where you’ll get your parking pass. There will be a guy handing out passes and he’ll tell you where to park.
The parking lot is to the right of the sign and it costs 3,000 colones a day. Keep the pass he gives you, you’ll need it to pay when you come back.
Sierpe to Drake Bay Boat Schedule
The taxi boat is called Don Jorge and there are two departure times for Drake Bay: 11:30 AM and 330 PM. It costs $15 USD per passenger at 11:30 AM and $20 USD at 330 PM.
Talk to the man directing the cars but if you can’t find him, go into the office next to the restaurant. Tell them which hotel you’re going to and they’ll tell you when which boat you’ll go on and when it’ll be ready. You can wait in the restaurant.
You pay them when you reach Drake Bay before you get off the boat in either dollars or colones.
If you check in at the Las Vegas Bar and Restaurant, there are also other taxi boats that run throughout the day. In case you miss the two scheduled ones from Don Jorge, you can ask around the restaurant as there are usually many locals waiting around there with their boats.
The boat ride
The boats are not very big (holds probably around 12-15 passengers) and they don’t wrap your luggage so make sure your belongings are nicely zipped up. It’s unlikely your luggage will get wet but you never know, so bring garbage bags with if you are worried.
They’ll take your bags for you to load into the boat and you can keep your backpack or purse. They’ll start calling hotels once boats are ready so listen for your hotel.
Once everyone is ready, you’ll begin your journey through Sierpe river and you’ll see glimpses of the mangrove on the way.
After about 40 minutes or so, it’s time to merge into the ocean. This part is a bit bumpy depending on the tide, so hold on! The boat captains are all very familiar with this area however, so don’t worry. They know how to navigate and cross the river mouth to the ocean pretty well.
The first time we took this boat ride it was fairly smooth but the second time, oh boy! It was quite an adventure and it was exciting yet a little terrifying. We waited for about 20 minutes while the boat captain observed the waves and finally got a break for us to zip through.
From there, it’s about 20 minutes to Drake Bay. The views of the coast are spectacular! This is why taking the boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay is highly recommended – you don’t get to experience the thrill of boating in a river and ocean if you drive or fly.
Arriving at Drake Bay
Once you reach Drake Bay, they’ll help you unload your luggage and get you off the boat. Make sure you’re wearing sandals or flip flops and shorts or roll up your pants because it is a wet landing.
For recommendations on hotels in Drake Bay, we stayed at Tranquilo Lodge which was amazing!
Drake Bay to Sierpe Boat Schedule
The public boat from Drake Bay to Sierpe is at 7:15 AM and 2:15 PM. The AM costs $15 USDper person and the PM costs $20 USD per person. You can also see if your hotel can arrange a private boat transportation for you in case those times don’t work out.
Tips for Taking the Boat From Sierpe to Drake Bay
- You can’t pre-book reservations so arrive in Sierpe at least 30 minutes early. In high season, at least 1 hour. It was really crowded when we went beginning of January and we were afraid we wouldn’t get a spot.
- Fees recap: 3,000 colones ($6) a day for parking, $15 per passenger at 11:30 AM, $20 per passenger at 4 PM
- If you get seasick, take anti-nausea medicine and bring some ginger ale or ginger candies. It depends on the wind and tide how bumpy it is.
- Make sure you don’t leave any valuables in your car, roll up the windows and lock the door. It’s a secure parking lot but you don’t want to take any chances
- Wear sunscreen. At 11:30 AM the sun is high and bright and half my face was in the sun for a good hour.
Once in Drake Bay, relax and enjoy the beautiful Osa Peninsula. Go snorkeling at Cano Island or hike Corcovado National Park, two of the best activities to do in the area!
How to Get to Other Destinations in Costa Rica
Playas del Coco/Gulf of Papagayo
Christine Mitterbauer says
We’re travelling with our 1 year old baby, would you say this trip is safe and makes sense with a baby? (I would wear her in a carrier on my chest)
The only thing is that the ocean conditions can be pretty rough from Sierpe to Drake Bay so it’d depend on what time of year you’re going, the last time we did this boat ride, it took an extra hour because the waves were so rough so we were just waiting out in the ocean while the boat captain attempted to find a break to get through… for a 1 year old baby I would honestly say to take a flight, as it’s hard to predict how conditions will be
Vicki Nichols Goldstein says
Great article and so helpful. How do we get from Utiva to Sierpe so we can take the boat to Drake Bay? We will be traveling this March 2023.
You can take the public bus or a taxi
Where in Drake Bay is the ferry terminus? Can’t seem to find it on any street map. Is there some sort of jetty or pier?
It is from Sierpe dock, you can type in SIerpe River Ferry on Google Maps
Matias P says
Hi! is it possible go from drake bay to sierpe on boat?
Yes, there is a section in this post about taking the same public boat back to Sierpe from Drake
All this info is so helpful – thank you! One question – we’ll be leaving our rental car in the parking lot in Sierpe, but we’ll have a couple of large suitcases with us. Can these go on the boat to DB? If not, is the parking lot secure enough to leave them in the car?
You can bring your luggage on the boat to Drake Bay
Hi, thanks for the variable Informations.
Actually, the boot captain charged 25 US $ from Sierpe to DRAKE bay. Intentional overcharging or new pricing police?
Probably is the new price as gas has gone up a lot recently and high tourism season prices may be more
Jennifer Lipp says
Hi. Thank you for the info. I’m still a little bit confused on transportation to Drake Bay. If I fly from SJO to Drake Bay airport, how do I get to the boat in Sierpe? Do I have to take a bus or taxi from Drake Bay airport to the Sierpe boat launch? If yes, how long is the drive from Drake Bay airport to Sierpe? Planning on staying at a resort that says you can’t drive there so we plan on returning rental car at SJO before heading to Drake Bay. Thank you.
If you fly from SJO to Drake Bay, you will land directly in Drake so you won’t take a boat from Sierpe.
Are these departure times the most recent? I’ve seen different times listed on other sites!
Hi Angela, these times are pre-COVID so they might have changed, we plan to take this boat in the next few months so hopefully can get an updated schedule but I’ll also see if I can find a recent one if they’ve changed it.
There aren’t really any other beaches quite like Conchal in Costa Rica and definitely not in Drake Bay. They do have one particularly nice beach but it is not like Conchal with the shells and turquoise clear water.
Marina Kozlov says
Is it worth it if we just want to go visit the beach ? We stayed in playa Conchal and we loved the beach and can’t find anything like this on Uvita area. Please let me know if it’s worth it to go for the day . Thank you
Do you know if you can bring a surfboard on the boat?
I am not 100% but I think so, or at least if the public boat you cannot, you can probably find a private boat operator who can
Can you make it a day trip leave the same day?
I guess you could but Drake Bay is really worth to stay at least one night to experience it… but if you want to visit in a day, I would hire a private boat so that you can set your own pick up and return times.
We are dropping our rental car in Sierpe and taking the boat, flying back to SJO. Where should we park or rental car for the rental company to pick it up. Same lot you described?
Hi Scotty, yes it’ll be the same lot, they’ll meet you at the restaurant.
Hi, what a great and thorough article! Thank you! We do have a 4×4 and are currently in Monteverde so not rainy season. Would there still be any caution against driving to Drake Bay? Also, if we decided to take the boat over, would taxis be the best way to get around while in Drake? Would you know general costs..?
Hi Kristin, we spoke to some hotel managers in Drake Bay and they still don’t recommend to drive there because of the road conditions. The town itself is super small so depending on where you are staying, you can walk if you’re in town but make sure to check your accommodation location and ask your host to call you a taxi if you need one.
Muriel Russell says
Hi. Loving your blog as we prepare for our first trip to Costa Rica!
Love the idea of Drake Bay remoteness and opportunities to see wildlife, especially whales and dolphins. Our trip is mid july to early August. If we make the effort to go to Drake Bay should we skip Ulvita? Is it better to spend more time at Drake Bay? If so can we return the hire car at Sierpe and pick another one from there when we return? We have 3 weeks in total.
If you don’t have time to visit both, I’d go with Drake Bay since it is more remote than Uvita. You can return your car rental at Sierpe and pick up there too, but if you are planning to keep the car your whole trip, it’d be cheaper to just park the car in Sierpe because if for example, you rent your car in San Jose Airport, then you return it in SIerpe, there is a $70 USD fee (with Adobe Rent a Car, not sure about other companies). Then if you get a car delivered to Sierpe and return it in SJO, there’s another $70 USD fee and that would be 2 separate reservations.
It’d be cheaper to keep the car and pay for the parking while you’re in Drake.
Another option is to return the car in Sierpe and then fly back to San Jose from Drake Bay (If San Jose is your next destination).
One of the most complete logistic guide for Sierpe+Drake Bay. THANK YOU!
Ben Murrie says
Hello! If we ended up braving the drive to Drake Bay, is there actually anywhere to park? Some of the hotels say they have free parking, but they all run through mass sites (hotels.com, etc) so you never really know.
You can ask your hotel if they have a parking lot, since it’s such a rural area there aren’t like dedicated public parking lots but I would check with your hotel first.
Hi do you know how regular the public buses are from Sierpe to Palmar and then onto Uvita please?
I’m not sure but I recommend to check the Costa Rica by bus Facebook group to see if anyone has posted the schedule there.
Super helpful info, thank you – one quick question: is it possible to take the CAR ferry to Drake Bay? Aka to get to Drake Bay *with* your rental car instead of leaving it in Sierpe? I see pictures online of a super small ferry boat in Sierpe that can hold up to 2 cars – is that working? Is Drake bay area easily driveable with a 4×4?
Hi Chiara, I don’t have any knowlede of a ferry boat in Sierpe that can take cars, it is just the passenger one and people leave their cars at the parking lot in Sierpe.
Drake Bay is not recommended to drive unless you have a 4×4 in dry season, in rainy season it is not advised there are several rivers that get very full during rainy season.
Hi! Just in case we miss the ferry, is there any chance to have other boat? Or is it really only 2 times a day?
Very useful article! Thanks!
Hi Nemo! I would think there would be private boats with locals offering their services, the ferry times are for the open ones so they’re cheaper. If you miss it, you could try to get a private one, it’ll be more expensive but I would think there would be that option but I’m not 100% positive since we used the normal ferry.
Hi Sammi. How would you recommend finding a private boat option? Thanks!
From last I heard you can just go to the restaurant and ask around, and there will be locals with their boat offering private rides. I’m not sure how it is due to COVID, unfortunately I am not sure on the current situation, sorry 🙁
Richard A Logan says
There is a small car ferry on the river, often moored on the north side of the river slightly downriver from the dockside cafe. My partner used it to get our new quad across the river several years ago and I have seen that boat many times since then. A problem is that the ferry just crosses the river to a rarely maintained dirt road leading to Drake through the jungle. Many maps don’t even show that road and it is not suitable except to a serious 4-wheel drive vehicle piloted by a bold driver. For example, there could be a tree across the road—to cut or drag or drive around.
We know of this ferry since one of our acquaintances runs a 4×4 overlanding trip to Drake taking this ferry but they always come very equipped with winches, cables and other equipped cars due to the road conditions you mentioned. We haven’t gone yet but hopefully one day we will since we like overlanding and have the equipment.
Can anyone confirm that the boat taxi from Sierpe to Bahia Drake runs on Christmas Eve and or Christmas Day?
Hi Cara, it should be running. I would ask your hotel you’re staying at in Drake just in case but they should be.
The trip from Sierpe to Bahia Drake sounds awesome! Do you think, it is possible in late August? We heard that it might get hard to reach the Osa Peninsula during the wet season because of floatings… but we would love to get from Sierpe to Bahia Drake to visit Cocovado!
HI Tatjana, I think it is still doable but I would definitely check conditions. If it’s storming or raining too hard, they won’t run it for safety reasons. I would ask your hotel in Drake Bay to see what they think because we went in January, the start of summer.
Robin Taylor says
We will have a rental car and would like to turn it in before taking boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay. Where is the closest rental car facility to Sierpe?
Hi Robin, the closest place for car rentals is in Uvita. We have a partnership with Adobe Rent a Car and they can pick up the car from Sierpe free of charge for Mytanfeet readers. You can check rates and make a reservation here: Costa Rica car rental discount
Does anyone know contacts of taxi boats or prices/schedule from Drake to Sierpe? The hotel was asking 40pp which is quie a lot I think..
Hi Sanna, the public boat leaves at I believe 7:15 AM and 2:30 PM and it is $15 pp for the AM and $20 pp for the PM.
Thanks you for all the information. We look forward to our trip to Bahia Drake from Quepos.
You’re welcome, enjoy your trip!
Could you please briefly tell me how you did to travel from Quepos to Drake Bay? At what time did you have to leave Manuel Antonio area?
Thank you very much!
Thanks for such clear and detailed info. Does the taxi boat stop at all requested hotels/hostels? i.e. jungla del jaguar is 12 km away from center, would it be problem if I book?
Hi, yes so when you go to buy tickets, they’ll ask you where you’re getting off. We stopped at like, 3 or 4 other places before we got off at Drake Bay.
Hi, thank you so much for this post! I was wondering if I travel with a big luggage, will I be charged more for the boat ticket? I was thinking of going from Sierpe to Drake Bay and finding a hotel there, so I need to take all my luggage with me.
Hi Monika, no I don’t believe so unless you’re bringing like, 5 check ins or something then they will need to make sure they have enough space but we saw people bringing big check ins each and we brought a few carry ons and backpacks between us since we had our camera gear.
Alan Rogers says
How long is the taxi ride from Palmer Sur to the boat? The only flight available on SANSA lands at 10:20am and the boat leaves at 11:30am……will we make it?
Hi Alan, you should. According to Waze it’s about a 18 minute drive so you should be able to grab a taxi right when you land and get to the Sierpe ferry in time to buy tickets.
This is an excellent article although I’m reading it after our trip to Drake Bay in January. We were lucky to have Casita Corcavado make the arrangements for us. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t have gone because I couldn’t find this type of info on my own. I was certainly concerned about the thought of leaving a rental just parked for several days. Everything you included was described perfectly, with the photos and map certainly helpful in locating landmarks like Don Jorge’s restaurant. The river taxi trip in itself was beautiful and so cheap. Where else could you possibly get a boat ride like that for $15? Thanks for posting this great info. I wish I had found your blog before our trip.
Hi Cindy! Aw I wish you found it before too but I’m glad that Casita Corcovado made all the arrangements for you – it can be very tricky for this kind of transportation in that area since it is hard to find on the web which is why I wrote this article. Hopefully you will come back to Costa Rica one day and thank you for reading our blog!
Robyn K says
It looks like a small boat — what if more people show up than it can hold? Are the rest out of luck or does it take multiple trips?
Hello Robyn, every boat has a limit (For security reasons) they all need to be licensed by the cost guards. When a boat reach the maximum amount of people they are authorized to carry they will use the next boat. there are dozens of boats waiting at the dock and no company will put you at risk. Thank you for reading our blog!
Is it possible to reserve spots days ahead, or may not necessary?
No, just make sure to get there at least 30 minutes before departure time to buy tickets. In high season it gets pretty crowded so arrive at least 30 minutes before.
Thanks this was helpful
Do you know the timetable for the boats back from Drake to Sierpe please?
Hi guys, if you check Astrid’s comment, the boats leave 7:15 AM ($15) and 2:30 PM ($20) last time I checked.
Can you hire a private captain to take you to Drake from Sierpe if you miss the 11:30 or 3:30 boat? How much is this?
Hi JT, you probably can as there are boat captains at the ferry but I am not sure how much it is. I would guess around $100 at least maybe but I’m purely guessing. If you booked a hotel in Drake Bay, you can ask them and see if they have any private transportation you can pay for.
Thanks very much for this info, great post. I would like to ask your advice.
We were supposed to fly to Drake Bay directly, but due to maintenance at the airport, we will instead land at Palmar Sur air strip. From there were will need to take a taxi / bus to Sierpe and then the boat to Drake.
If we want to take the bus to Sierpe, is this the same one you mention that leaves from Palmar Norte? And if so, it is close by or would we be better of taking a taxi to Sierpe and then the boat? It would involve quite a wait as we land at 12 noon, but I guess we can have lunch at the restaurant.
Hey guys, I highly recommend grabbing a taxi to Sierpe from Palmar Sur, it’s only about $12. Buses leave from Palmar Norte but not always to Palmar Sur since it is a super tiny town so it’s best to take a taxi which is more reliable. You’ll have a few hours to kill but you can hang out at the restaurant and you can use their Wi-Fi there.
Luis Díaz says
Aunque soy de costa rica nunca he viajado a peninsula de osa… voy a hacerlo este fin de semana. Este artículo fue muy útil… gracias !
Although I’m from Costa Rica I have never traveled to Osa Peninsula … I’ll do this weekend. This article was very helpful … thanks!
Hola Luis! I hope you have a wonderful time in the Osa Peninsula, it is amazing!! Gracias por leyendo nuestro blog! 🙂
Thanks for the info and the photos (it’s always nice to SEE what we are getting into) 😉
Any idea what the schedule is for the return boats? We need to let our next place in Dominical know what time we will arrive.
Hi Astrid, the schedule for return should be: 07:15 am Boat Drake – Sierpe: $15
02:30 pm Boat Drake – Sierpe: $20 (that was the last I checked). I would recommend asking the hotel you are staying in Drake Bay just to confirm.
Lucy Garcia says
Hi! How reliable is the boat transfer as far as departure times? I have to decide whether to return rental car in Uvita and take shared shuttle to Sierpi or keep rental car and park in Sierpi for six nights! Not sure if it would be safe to leave rental car that long. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thank you.
The schedules are very reliable and they are pretty punctual each time we’ve taken the boat. We parked our car for 5 nights before and they have a secure parking lot with a guard. Of course don’t leave anything valuable in the car but it is safe. But I’d recommend returning the rental car since you’ll be paying for 6 days of rental and it will just be sitting in the parking lot.
I’ve been trying to find out where to leave my car in Sierpe…thanks a bunch! The article was perfect.
You’re very welcome! 🙂 glad it helped!
Anandan Iyer says
A very well-researched article. I have never heard about Bahia Drake before. Thank you for sharing the valuable information about the place, the things to do, how to reach their, timing, parking, etc. this article would be of great help for the future travellers.
Yes everyone should go to the south of Costa Rica, is one of our favorite places in the country.