Sitting in the northwest corner of the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay offers an escape from the crowds surrounded by dense jungle and beaches. With a tiny town consisting of a couple convenience stores and small local restaurants, 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 one of the most remote places 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.
Prices are listed in USD below.
How to Get to Drake Bay
There are three ways to get to Drake Bay: boat, plane or car. The most popular way is to take the boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay. Below are more details on each way to get to Drake Bay. You can read our full guide to get to Drake Bay here.
- Boat from Sierpe: The most common method to get to Drake Bay. Take a public or private taxi boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay. This boat ride takes around 1-1.5 hours one way.
- Plane: Sansa Air, a local airline, flies into Drake Bay as it has its own local airport. In high season (December through April), there are usually around 5-7 flights a day from San Jose (Domestic Terminal). One way ticket costs around $165-180 USD, 50 minutes non stop.
- Public Bus to Sierpe: The best way is to take the public bus to Sierpe and then get the boat to Drake Bay as there isn’t really a formal direct bus to Drake Bay. From San Jose, you can take the bus to Sierpe (830 AM with Empresa Tracopa from Calle 5, Ave 18-20). It takes ~5 hours and runs everyday. This bus drops you off right at the boat dock where you need to purchase boat tickets and board the boat.
- Driving: There is one main route to Drake Bay. From Sierpe, it takes around 3 hours. A high clearance car required in dry season, a 4wd highly recommended in rainy season (May through December). Read our detailed guide to driving to Drake Bay and don’t forget our Costa Rica car rental discount.
- Private shuttle: If you aren’t renting a car, you can book a private shuttle which will drop you off in Sierpe. Then you will get the boat to Drake Bay. There are no shared shuttles to Sierpe.
If you want to book a private shuttle or arrange a car rental, please feel free to contact us with your details and we’ll be happy to help you arrange it all!
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 with their private boat, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to arrange it by yourself (getting to Sierpe on your own and purchasing the public boat tickets).
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.
Sierpe to Drake Bay Boat Schedule
The public boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay schedule is at 11:30 AM and 430 PM. It costs $20 USD per person and you will pay it in cash to the boat captain. Public boats are on a first come, first serve basis. In high season or peak season like Christmas and Easter, it is recommended to arrive around 1-2 hours early to buy tickets.
Where to Purchase Public Boat Tickets
The office to purchase the public (colectivo) boat tickets is at the Donde Jorge Bar, Restuarante y Embarcadero. There is a huge sign outside for Donde Jorge, you can’t miss it.
There is a ticket office inside the restaurant, go up to the window to buy tickets. If there isn’t anyone there or it’s closed, knock or go around the side and knock on the door.
They will ask you which hotel you are going to in Drake Bay. If your hotel happens to be a bit outside Drake Bay such as San Josecito, Rincon or Jungla, there may be an extra fee to get dropped off there instead. They will let you know. Make sure to keep your boat ticket they give you.
The boat ride from Sierpe to Drake Bay and vice versa is around 1 hour. Sometimes it may take around 1 hour and 30 minutes depending on conditions.
Private Boats from Sierpe to Drake Bay
I asked the Restaurante Las Vegas how much they would charge for a private boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay. They said it costs around $350 USD total up to 10 people plus luggage.
If you miss the public boat or if you’re coming in a big group, then you can inquire a private boat at the Restaurante Las Vegas. They offer private boats from 6 AM until about 4 PM at any time you need to leave.
This private boat is not for those who have a boat arranged with their resort. For example, Aguila de Osa has their own private boat launch and private boat for hotel guests. Their boat launch is in a completely separate area from the public boat launch and is part of the packages they offer.
Drake Bay to Sierpe Boat Schedule (Public)
The public boat from Drake Bay to Sierpe is at 7 AM and 230 PM. It costs $20 USD per person and you will pay it in cash to the boat captain. The boat will pick you up on the main beach of Drake Bay. It will be at the same spot where they dropped you off.
How to Get 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 boat launch dock in Sierpe to purchase public boat tickets and get on the boat.
On Google Maps and Waze, enter La Perla Del Sur or Donde Jorge Bar, Restuarante y embarcadero in Sierpe as your destination. You do not need a 4×4 or 4wd to get to Sierpe. From San Jose International Airport, the drive to Sierpe is around 5 hours one way without stops or traffic.
We do not recommend to drive to Sierpe the day you land because there is no guarantee you will get there to catch the public boats. It is a very long drive with high possibilities of heavy traffic near the airport. It is better to rest your first day and then leave the next day. If you absolutely want to get to Drake Bay the day you land, then it is best to take a local flight from the San Jose Domestic Terminal.
If you’re taking the bus, you can take the public bus from San Jose or Palmar Norte. From San Jose, there is a bus to Sierpe (830 AM with Empresa Tracopa from Calle 5, Ave 18-20) everyday, takes around 5 hours. Then, there are public 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.
*IMPORTANT* The last boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay is at 4 PM and we recommend to arrive in Sierpe at least 1 hour before to purchase public boat tickets which are on a first come, first service basis. So if you’re taking the public bus to Sierpe, it is best to leave as early as possible so you make sure you can get boat tickets and that you do not miss the last public boat!
A private shuttle costs approximately $300 USD total from San Jose to Sierpe (~6 people plus luggage).
Renting a Car and Taking the Boat in Sierpe
If you’re planing on renting a car and driving to Sierpe yourself to take the boat to Drake Bay, here is the information on how to do it. We also have a Costa Rica car rental discount with Adobe Rent a Car and we can help you arrange your pick up/delivery from Sierpe if required.
If Drake Bay is at the end of your itinerary and you plan to fly from Drake Bay to San Jose International Airport to catch your flight home, then you need to return your car in Sierpe as you won’t need it anymore during your time in Drake Bay
Rental car companies do not have an office or headquarters in Sierpe, however companies can pick up the car there for an extra fee. Most car rental companies have a window for car delivery and pick up in Sierpe, usually between approximately 10 AM to 3 PMish. Our partners Adobe Rent a Car collects and delivers cars in Sierpe between 9 AM – 3 PM.
Returning your rental car in Sierpe: You will meet your car rental agency at a pre-agreed upon destination. The normal meeting point is at the Restaurante Las Vegas, just a 1 minute walk from the public boat launch at La Perla del Sur.
IMPORTANT: Our best recommendation is to arrive at 10 AM so you have enough time to return your car and purchase the 1130 AM boat tickets. This is for the morning boat. If you want to take the 430 PM afternoon boat to Drake Bay, you need to arrive in Sierpe by 3 PM to have enough time to return your car and purchase public boat tickets.
Check out our 1 month Costa Rica itinerary that has Drake Bay at the end!
The next scenario would be for those who visit Drake Bay at the beginning or middle of their itinerary and want to pick up their rental car in Sierpe after their time in Drake Bay
This scenario also means that you are arriving to Sierpe on your own.
Picking up your rental car in Sierpe: The normal meeting point is also at the Restaurante Las Vegas, where you will meet your car rental company’s agent to finish paperwork and collect the car.
IMPORTANT: Most car rental agencies deliver cars to Sierpe dock between 10 AM to 3 PM so the safest option is to take the 7 AM boat from Drake Bay to Sierpe. Our partner Adobe Rent a Car has operation hours in Sierpe between 9 AM to 330 PM ish so if you getting your rental car with Adobe, they are able to deliver your car for both the morning and afternoon schedule.
Extra Fee for Sierpe
Many car rental agencies charge an extra fee for car pick up and delivery to Sierpe. It is usually around $50 USD but it can vary depending on where you picked up your car at the start of your reservation or are returning your car at the end of your reservation.
If you want to keep your rental car during your time in Drake Bay, then you will need to leave it at a parking lot in Sierpe. There are several private parking lots in Sierpe, very close to the boat launch.
There is a parking lot right across from the Las Vegas Restaurant. This one is a covered, private parking lot. They charge 4000 CRC per day ($8 USD). The owners live in the connecting building to the parking lot. The parking lot closes at 5 PM so make sure you get there before closing time to get your car. You will pay when you pick up your car.
There are a few more parking lots near the La Perla del Sur. They are not covered parking lots though. These ones cost 3000 CRC or $6 USD per day. Learn more about handling money and local currency in this post.
IMPORTANT: Make sure to keep the parking slip they give you. Even if they’re secure parking lots, make sure you don’t have any valuables in the car. Roll up your windows and lock the doors.
The Boat Ride From Sierpe to Drake Bay
The boats are not very big (holds around 12-15 passengers) but they are covered on the top. However, 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, especially in the rainy season when it can start raining all of a sudden!
They have a waiting area at the restaurant for clients. While you wait, you can have a meal, get a drink, snack or just chill.
At about 15 minutes before departure time, the boat captains will start rounding people up. They’ll start calling out hotels once boats are ready to be loaded, so make sure to pay attention.
They’ll take your bags for you to load into the boat and you can keep your backpack or purse. 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.
After you and your luggage make it safely to shore, you will need to look for your transportation to your hotel. I highly recommend to pre-arrange this as there aren’t many taxis in Drake Bay. If your hotel is in walking distance, great! If it isn’t, then definitely arrange transportation with your hotel.
For recommendations on hotels in Drake Bay, we stayed at Tranquilo Lodge which was amazing. We’ve also stayed at Aguila de Osa Rainforest & Marine Adventure Lodge which was wonderful.
Leaving Drake Bay to Sierpe
If you are taking the public boat back to Sierpe from Drake Bay, the boat will pick you up where it dropped you off when you first got there. It is also on a first come, first serve basis so it’s best to arrive early.
The boat from Drake Bay to Sierpe is at 7 AM and 230 PM, $20 USD per person which is to be paid to the boat captain in cash.
Tips for Taking the Boat From Sierpe to Drake Bay
- 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.
- PUT ON SUNSCREEN! Although the boats are covered, the sun will still hit you on one side. Half my face was in the sun for a good hour and I got the funkiest tan line.
- Make sure you don’t leave any valuables in your car if you are parking your car, roll up the windows and lock the door. They offer a secure parking lot but it is best to bring your valuables with you and leave your parked car as nondescript as possible.
How to Get to Other Destinations in Costa Rica
Costa Rica Vacation Checklist
- First time to Costa Rica? Read our First Time in Costa Rica guide.
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