San Jose to Corcovado, All You Need To Know
Corcovado National Park is located in the Osa Peninsula, in the South Pacific of Costa Rica. It is the most biodiverse place on Earth, according to National Geographic. When you plan to visit Corcovado National Park from San Jose, several available ways of travel are possible. The travel duration and cost greatly depend on your choice of transport. There are different locations from you can have your tour departure to Corcovado National Park: Puerto Jiménez, Drake Bay, and Sierpe.
Renting a car
From San José to Puerto Jiménez, it is a paved road all the way. No 4×4 is needed. However, if you use your car to drive up to Carate to visit La Leona station, you would need a 4×4 to travel the 43 km from Puerto Jiménez to Carate. Otherwise, transport to Carate can be provided in a shuttle from Puerto Jiménez or the intersection of Matapalo. Sirena station is not accessible by car; you either have to take an overnight tour to walk from Carate to Sirena (20km), or you access Sirena by taking a 90-minute boat ride from Puerto Jiménez.
Driving time from San José to Puerto Jiménez: 5+ hours
Driving time from Puerto Jiménez to Carate: +/- 2 hours
From San José to Drake Bay, a 4×4 is necessary for the last 30 km who are not paved and pass through the mountains. There is no more river crossing to get to Drake Bay, and there are bridges now.
Driving time: 6+ hours
From San José to Sierpe, only the last 15 km are not paved, but the road is flat and usually in good condition; a 4×4 is not necessary. The parking in Sierpe costs $6 per day at Restaurante Don Jorge La Perla del Sur, and you can leave your car overnight if you are traveling to Drake Bay.
Driving time: 3 hours
Which car rental company to choose?
If you plan to rent a car in San José and return it to San José, there are plenty of companies you can choose from online that are based right at the international airport. However, if you plan to rent a car in Sierpe or Puerto Jiménez or drop off your car in these areas, it will be cheaper to choose the local company National Rent-A-Car (Puerto Jiménez), or choose one of the closest rental car companies in Uvita.
National Rent-A-Car in Puerto Jiménez: + (506) 2735-5175
In Costa Rica, it is easy to get disoriented as most of the roads are not straight. You should get one of the following Apps on your phone: MAPS.ME or Gaia GPS. It is important that you download the maps ahead while you have a signal. Some Apps work with internet/phone signal, which will be useless in some remote areas of Costa Rica, including some stretches of the highway, but these two should work. The App Waze is popular in different countries but will not work everywhere in Costa Rica because it works with the internet.
Most cars in Costa Rica have a manual transmission; make sure to ask for an automatic car if you do not have experience driving a manual transmission.
Rent your car in advance. If you plan to rent a car during the high season, you need to pre-book your car ideally more than 3 months in advance. You will have difficulty finding a rental car if you wait last minute.
The company Transfer del Sur will pick you up directly from the airport or at your hotel in San José and bring you up to the doorstep of your final destination. They travel up to Puerto Jiménez. The shuttle is not 4×4, so it doesn’t go to Drake Bay, but it can drop you off in Sierpe or on your way to Puerto Jiménez.
It is a very convenient, flexible, and affordable way to travel to the Osa Peninsula. You need to book and prepay ahead. They accept Paypal if you are outside the Country.
Phone numbers: + (506) 8369-2624 or + (506) 8806-2925 | Whatsapp: + (506) 7070-9282
They do not speak much English at the moment of the reservation. If you do not speak Spanish, it will be easier for them to read a message on WhatsApp in English than talk over the phone.
Taking the bus is a great and cheap way to travel through the Country.
To Puerto Jiménez: The bus company traveling to Puerto Jiménez is Transporte Blanco Lobo. You can take a single bus from San José that travels 7 days a week. You can buy your ticket online up to one week before traveling.
Approximate travel time: 6 hours (including a couple of breaks to go to the bathroom and a 30- minute break in a cafeteria to eat)
Phone number: + (506) 2771-2550
To Sierpe: There is a direct bus with the company Tracopa traveling to Sierpe every day. To prepay your bus ticket, you can download the Tracopa App or buy it at the station (make sure to arrive 30 minutes before, or if possible, go to the station the day before).
Approximate travel time: 3.5 hours (including a break to go to the bathroom)
Phone number: + (506) 2221-4214
To Drake Bay: No bus travels straight from San José to Drake Bay. You can take the bus with the company Tracopa up to Sierpe. Once in Sierpe, you can take the ferry to Drake Bay. The bus and boat schedule allows you to travel from San José to Drake Bay in one day.
Approximate travel time by bus: 3.5 hours (including a break to go to the bathroom) Approximate
Travel time by boat: 50 minutes
Boat schedule, price, and information:
Boat transfers are 7 days a week, all year round. The duration to Drake Bay by boat is 90 minutes. No reservation is needed (you can’t pre-book).
You must arrive 30 minutes before in Sierpe and ideally 1 hour before between December 15th and April 30th and between July 1st to August 30th (high season).
Make sure your luggage is well closed up, and you should bring a luggage cover, wrap it up or put it in a garbage bag if it rains, as no luggage protection will be provided. The boat experience through the Sierpe river and the biggest mangrove forests of America is incredible.
To Golfito: There is a direct bus with the company Tracopa that reaches Golfito every day. Once in Golfito, you can take a 30-minute taxi boat to Puerto Jiménez. The taxi boat costs 3500 colones per person and travels several times a day from 7:00 am until 4:30 pm (weekdays); the schedule is different on weekends.
There are 2 roads that go to the South of Costa Rica, one by the coast, called Costanera, and one by the mountain called Cerro de la Muerte. If you take the one by the mountains, it will take at least an additional hour to reach your destination. If you tend to have transport sickness avoid taking the route by Cerro de la Muerte, and you should take a motion sickness tablet 30 minutes before taking the bus.
The airline Sansa flies to Puerto Jiménez and Drake Bay several times a day, all year around. However, in October, the rainiest month of the year, some flight gets cancelled. So, if you are flying during this time of the year, be aware that your flight might be rescheduled to the next day if there is a storm. Apart from that, this is a popular, fast, and safe way to travel to your destinations.
Before booking, make sure to ask or look on the website for the amount of luggage you can bring. If your luggage exceeds the maximum weight you are allowed, you will be charged an extra fee for each kilo. Also, if you have a lot of baggage and the plane is full, there is a slight possibility that your luggage will be sent on the next flight.
If you have a purse, backpack, or small carry-on, this can go on the plane with you. Keep the heaviest stuff with you (just remember you will need to pass through security with your carry-on).
Phone number: + 506 2290 4400 or + 506 2290 4100 | From USA: 1 877 767 2672
You can take a private flight from San José to a more specific destination, such as Carate. Also, if your international flight arrives later than the last domestic flight departure or if the domestic flight is sold out, a private flight might be the solution.
Of course, a private flight might be expensive if you are a solo traveller, but if you are, let’s say, four people with a limited time in the Country, this is the fastest way to travel. Note that it is not possible anymore to fly directly to Sirena in Corcovado National Park.
The private company Aerocaribe is the one traveling to the Osa Peninsula.
Phone number: +506 2231-0608 | WhatsApp: +506 6030 3270
Which transportation is the best?
The one that suits you better. There is not an option better than another one. It usually depends on your budget, time, and interests.
Booking a Tour with Osa Green Travel
Are you a month to three months away from your travels? We would love to help you with your next Corcovado National Park Tour. Want to know more about us? Check out our raving reviews on Trip Advisor. We pride ourselves every year on getting a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.
Leaving a Green Experience at the Osa Peninsula!