If you are planning a trip to one of the coolest places in Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park, and by any chance are thinking to stay in Drake Bay as your “home base,” you will probably have to pass through Sierpe to get there.
We finally made this trip recently after many years having an invitation from Rodrigo’s friend Elbert, who is a tour guide from the area. They met when Rodrigo was studying to become a tour guide. But for various reasons, it has been a trip we postponed until this summer, when a couple we met through Instagram motivated us to go there.
We left San Ramon around 5:00 am that morning. For us, the route is a little different than someone coming from San José. Around 8:00 am, we were in Uvita, picking up our friend from @mytravelsecret, the couple of dutchies who explored Corcovado National Park with us.
After breakfast in Uvita, we got to Sierpe, and the boat was ready to leave at 11:30 am.
There are three ways to get to Drake Bay: by plane, by bus or car, and by boat. We are going to focus on the last two options.
Our friends recommended by boat since it was the dry season. Apparently, during the rainy season, the routes are not easy to access and the boats only leave in the morning for security and may also be difficult to access depending on the weather.
Getting there by bus:
There is a direct bus from San José to Sierpe through the bus company Tracopa. However, it’s not too fast—the bus won’t make it in time to take the afternoon boat. So people usually stay in Sierpe and take the boat the next day to Drake Bay.
Also, you can take the bus to Palmar Norte (with the same company—Tracopa) and from there take a taxi to Sierpe to catch the boat.
Getting directly to Drake Bay by bus: We haven’t done it in this way, but according to some information I found from a hostel in the area:
From San Jose, you can also arrive at the hostel by taking the 8am bus to Puerto Jimenez. Ask the driver to drop you off at La Palma de Osa. From the bakery at 4.30 pm, a collective bus will arrive which can drop you right at our door. The collectivo costs around $10 and takes 1.5 hours from La Palma….- Drake Bay Backpackers
Getting there by car:
If you decide to rent a car, you can make it all the way to Drake Bay. However, the routes will require a 4WD, and some parts are really difficult during the rainy season. Although, there is an option to leave the car in Sierpe
From San José: It’s around 280 km (174 miles) away from San José and around 4 and half hours drive until Sierpe.
Once you get to Sierpe town you have two options:
- Leave the car in a parking lot and take the boat to Drake Bay (Recommended)
- Take the ferry (it’s a rustic ferry, nothing fancy) and continue with the car all the way through Drake Bay. You’ll have to follow the signs until Drake Bay and probably cross some rivers. So it’s definitely not recommended for the rainy season.
A tip for navigation: You don’t need to get a GPS with the rental car. You can download the app Waze. This makes it easier for you driving in Costa Rica. Google maps works too.
Is there a place to leave my car during my time in the park or Drake Bay?
Yes. There is a hotel in Sierpe called Oleaje Sereno next to La Perla restaurant. They offer parking if you want to leave your car. You will see a sign called Donde Jorge. Following the main route all the way down to Sierpe, you will see the big signs.
The hotel offers the service of the parking lot. The cost per day is ¢3500 ($7). They will give you a ticket that you will have to show in order to pay and get the car back.
We left the car keys in case they needed to move the car, and we paid at the end without problems. However, take all your valuable stuff with you and leave all the windows closed.
Make sure you get to Sierpe at least 30 minutes before your boat leaves.
Boat Schedule (Updated February 2018):
When we got there, a guy came and asked where we were going. He told us that we would pay them when we got to Drake Bay.
The cost for the boat was $15 or ¢8000 Colones approximately, and you pay directly to the captain.
Some hotels arrange the taxi boat for you and you just tell the men outside of the boats the name of the hotel.
If you have questions, there is a window place where they can guide you. You can wait at the restaurant that offers free Wi-Fi and also use the restrooms.
Boats during the dry season:
- Sierpe to Drake bay: 11:30 am and 4:30 pm ($20)
- Drake bay to Sierpe: 7:15 am and 2:30 pm
The boat ride:
The four of us got into the boat and they put our luggage into the front part of the boat. You can keep your personal bag with you. The ride takes around an hour. The boats are small and can take around 15 people.
The first part of the boat ride was so beautiful. We were going through the canals with scenery full of mangroves. By the way, Sierpe has one of the biggest wetlands in the country that hosts the ecosystem of the larger mangrove in Costa Rica.
It’s beautiful! I got disconnected from everything as soon I jumped to the boat!
After 40 minutes, the adventure comes. As a local, I heard about “La bocanca,” the area where the ocean and the river connect each other, which can get really bumpy. So I will be honest: I was a little scared, but it’s fun.
No worries, the guys operating the boat are certified drivers and most of them grew up in the area.
They won’t do the service if the weather is bad, so just hold on!!!!
After this part, it is around 20 minutes more to Drake Bay. They might do few stops before depending on the hotels they are dropping off.
Our luggage didn’t get wet, but my clothes did! Make sure you wear sandals and probably shorts are not a bad idea! It gets a wet landing.
At the beach hotels, tour guides and locals wait for the arrival of the people. So finally, we saw Elbert and our journey in Drake Bay started.
Things to take into consideration:
- If you feel seasick on boats, let the driver know and he will sit you in the back where it is usually recommended. Take medicine for it because gets really bumpy sometimes.
- Wear sunscreen or a cap because, especially in the morning rides, you can get sunburned.
- The downtown is small and has grocery stores and restaurants that accepted credit cards. Still, bring enough cash for your stay in Drake Bay because there are no ATM’s.
- Items to bring during your time there: headlamps, sunscreen, footwear, sandals, insect repellent, poncho, and medicine.
Once you are there, enjoy the jungle, breathe the true essence of nature and enjoy the place with the 2.5 % of biodiversity of the world. If you need more information please let us know in the comments!