Why is the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica such a favorite place to visit?

For me, the Osa Peninsula is one of the most worthwhile places to visit in Costa Rica. The small stretch of remote rugged jungle in the southwestern corner of the country, bounded by the deep blue Pacific Ocean to the west and the placid Golfo Dulce to the east, is renowned by scientists, explorers and nature lovers as an astounding paradise.

Covering an area of 700 square miles, this last remaining stretch of tropical humid rainforest in Costa Rica is estimated to hold 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity. The natural report card is impressive:

  • More than 700 species of trees, with close to 80 being endemic
  • 463 types of birds, including the largest population of Scarlet Macaws in the country
  • 140 species of mammals, including the exotic tapirs and jaguars
  • 117 kinds of reptiles and amphibians
  • More than 25 kinds of dolphins and whales
  • 4 types of sea turtles

The southern Pacific Ocean, and especially Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf), are vital breeding and reproducing areas for endangered hammerhead sharks and the world’s migrating Pacific Humpback Whales. Activists have begun a campaign to create a “Multiple Use Marine Protected Area” for the waters along the entire coast of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, to safeguard the abundant yet threatened marine life.

The Osa Peninsula protects more than 366,000 acres of land and sea in at least 13 national parks, wildlife refuges and private reserves – the largest being the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve (149,593 acres), Corcovado National Park (104,900 acres), Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands (66,850 acres), and Piedras Blancas National Park (34,642 acres).

This is the spot that spawned Costa Rica’s eco-lodges and gave rise to the burgeoning industry of sustainable travel in Costa Rica.

What to do on the Osa Peninsula:

Where to stay by the Osa Peninsula

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is an environmentally sustainable eco-lodge by the Osa Peninsula. Its 165-acre private preserve joins with the Osa Conservation Area. The unique adventure travel destination is located on the remote inner coast of the Golfo Dulce, backed by thick jungle and the Piedras Blancas National Park. The award-winning eco-lodge offers family vacations, honeymoon trips, nature and adventure vacations, and yoga classes and retreats.

Article by Shannon Farley

Costa Rica’s Rich Biodiversity Reveals 5,000 New Species

It is amazing, that in this day and age, scientists are still discovering completely new species of plants and animals in the world. You would think that everything had already been discovered.
In Costa Rica, for instance, recent reports reveal that 5,000 new species of animals and plants have been discovered and classified between 2011 and 2013. The finding is part of the country’s National Biodiversity Strategy (ENB in Spanish) for 2014-2020, which follows the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. Most of the new 5,000 species found are insects. The others include a few orchids, mushrooms, mollusks, fish, reptiles and birds.

In the world so far, scientists say they have identified between 1.5 and 1.8 million animal and plant species, about half of which are insects. Beetles are the largest group with 300,000 species. In comparison, there are only 4,500 species of mammals recognized on the planet. Costa Rica, although a tiny country occupying only 0.03% of the planet’s landmass, hosts more than 500,000 plant and animal species. Keeping with the world trend, Costa Rica has about 300,000 kinds of insects. (Anyone who has ever walked into a Costa Rican rainforest without bug repellent knows this!)
Scientists estimate there are probably roughly 8.7 million species existing on Earth, according to a 2011 study in the journal PLoS Biology, published by the Public Library of Science. The crucial point is that approximately 83% of those plant and animal species have yet to be discovered. Scientists calculate that there are probably 6.5 million species living on land, and 2.2 million in the ocean, but that 86% of land-inhabitants and 91% of ocean-dwellers are still roaming at large undiscovered, described or cataloged, reports the study.

At Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, you can see an abundance of plant and animal life. Located
on the Golfo Dulce next to the Piedras Blancas National Park, the award-winning eco-lodge features several unique ecosystems – primary and secondary rainforest, ocean and mangrove forest. Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge offers nature and adventure tours, yoga classes and retreats, family vacations, and honeymoon trips.

Humpback Whales come to Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce

In southern Costa Rica, the tranquil blue waters of the Golfo Dulce stretch between the Piedras Blancas National Park and the Osa Peninsula. It is an area of pristine tropical wilderness and abundant wildlife. The Gulf’s calm jade green-blue surface makes it easy to see dolphins frolicking, sea turtles swimming, fish jumping out of the water, and marine birds diving for those fish. Starting in August, the Gulf gets even busier with visiting migrating Humpback Whales. Known as a tropical fjord, the “inner sea” of Golfo Dulce is a critical habitat for Humpback Whales and is vital to the species’ survival, according to the Center of Cetacean Investigation of Costa Rica (CEIC). Whales arrive annually to breed and give birth in the warm waters of Costa Rica’s South Pacific Coast, from the Ballena National Marine Park just south of Dominical down to the Golfo Dulce.


The annual migration of Pacific Humpback Whales is one of the most remarkable journeys by any creature on the planet. The marine mammals travel between 3,000 and 5,000 miles each way, from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, making them one of the farthest-migrating animals on Earth. Northern Hemisphere Humpbacks travel from Alaska and British Columbia to Mexico, Hawaii and Central America, for the months of December to March. Southern, Antarctic-based Humpback Whales spend their winter months near Australia and as far north as Costa Rica from June to November. They are most likely to be seen in Costa Rica between August and October.
The southern whales are more common to see in Golfo Dulce, according to research by the CEIC. Females swim into the shallow waters of the Gulf’s interior to birth their young and breastfeed them. Males concentrate in the outer area of the Gulf waiting to breed with available females. The CEIC and other environmental organizations, including Earthwatch, are working to create a Marine Protected Area within Golfo Dulce to safeguard the whales’ reproductive and feeding grounds, and to establish buffer areas surrounding these critical habitats. “(There is an) urgent need to create connectivity between different marine protected areas to maximize the effectiveness in the protection of species and resources,” note CEIC researchers.
Humpback whales are an endangered species with international government-protected status. They are easy to see since they live at the ocean’s surface. They swim slowly and are known as the “acrobats of the sea” for their aerial frolicking. Humpbacks also are known for their “songs” – long, varied, and complex sequences of squeaks, grunts and other sounds. Only males have been recorded singing and they seem to produce the complex songs only in warm waters – thought by scientists, therefore, to be mating calls. Golfo Dulce also is home to important resident and migratory communities of Bottlenose Dolphins, Spotted Dolphins, Spinner Dolphins, and the occasionally seen False Killer Whales. Visit Golfo Dulce.
Stay on Golfo Dulce at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, and see Humpback Whales and dolphins in person. The award-winning eco-lodge offers whale-watching boat tours of the Gulf to see marine life such as dolphins, sea turtles and whales. Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located on a 165-acre private preserve bordering the Piedras Blancas National Park. A TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner, the sustainable lodge is a unique adventure travel destination for its remote, pristine wilderness location.