Are you in Costa Rica and wondering how to get to Drake Bay? In this article, I’ll provide information on how to get there from different locations (Sierpe, San José, Uvita, Dominical and Manuel Antonio).
If you’re in UVITA (TRANSFER) or its beautiful neighboring towns DOMINICAL (TRANSFER), or MANUEL ANTONIO (TRANSFER), I’ll guide you on how to get to Sierpe by transfer or bus, and then take the BOAT (👉price) to Drake Bay.
For those who plan to travel with your own vehicle or RENT a CAR, I’ll provide information on the available routes for getting to Drake Bay.
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Drake Bay in Costa Rica
If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica (👉COSTA RICA GUIDE), you should know that it is a country characterized by the beauty of its beaches, mountains, volcanoes and the diversity of its wildlife.
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Drake Bay is an inaccessible destination located in the south of Costa Rica. Its main attraction is its wild and incredibly preserved beaches. It is a perfect destination if you are passionate about the sun, the sea, wildlife and hiking, and especially if you are looking for a little adventure!
In addition, Drake Bay is one of the best known accesses (along with Puerto Jiménez) to visit the CORCOVADO National Park.
In Drake Bay itself you can also go on a night hiking or watch birds in their natural environment. Without forgetting about SNORKELING in Isla del Caño and, for the most daring, you can go DIVING between columns of corals!
How to get to Drake Bay
Although a little away from everything, Drake Bay is well connected to the main points of the Costa Rican geography. It has access by air, land and by sea, but depending on the weather and where you come from, one option or the other will be better for you.
Below I describe how to get to Drake Bay by car, plane, bus, boat and shuttle from the Pacific area, San José and Sierpe; and a little further down you will find information to decide where it is best for you to stay (including accommodation options) and what you can do in this beautiful place.
How to get to Drake Bay from SIERPE
The pier to head to Drake Bay is located in Sierpe. There you will come across a variety of bars and restaurants where you can grab a bite or a drink while you wait for the BOAT (👉price and SCHEDULE). Departures from Sierpe are scheduled twice daily, from Monday to Sunday, and the trip takes around 1 hour.
The boat’s main stop is at Playa Colorada, but it also reaches other beaches that are further away. Don’t forget to ask about it before getting on the boat in case you need to pay an additional fee.
When you get there, you’ll notice that the boat’s fare is more costly for foreign visitors than for locals. It’s always this way, they’re not changing the price for you or for the tourists you’re traveling with specifically.
How to get to Drake Bay from SAN JOSÉ
If you’re starting from San José, you’ll have more options to pick from. You can travel by bus, transfer, or plane. I’ll give you the rundown on the different modes of transportation:
To Drake Bay by TRANSFER
The boat’s main stop is at Playa Colorada, but it also reaches other beaches that are further away. Don’t forget to ask about it before getting on the boat in case you need to pay an additional fee.
This option is definitely more convenient than taking the bus, as you won’t have to worry about any transfers. All in all, the journey should take you about 6 hours, including the transfer and boat ride.
To Drake Bay by PLANE
Drake Bay has its own airport, and there are regularly scheduled FLIGHTS (👉price) from Juan Santamaría airport, making it an efficient option for those who want to save time or go directly to Drake Bay without spending a night in San Jose.
The flight takes only 50 minutes, but be sure to arrive at the airport 1 hour prior to your scheduled departure time. Once you land at Drake Bay airport, you’ll need to take a taxi to reach Playa Colorada, costing approximately $10.
To Drake Bay by BUS
–Direct Bus: a direct bus departs from San Jose to Sierpe at 8:30 in the morning. You’ll need to head to the Tracopa bus terminal located at Plaza Viquez (between Calle 5 and Avenida 20).
The trip takes approximately 6 hours, giving you ample time to relax and grab a bite to eat before the BOAT (👉price and SCHEDULE) to Playa Colorada leaves at 4:00 PM. If you’re heading to a different beach, let the boat staff know your destination before boarding (in case you have to pay extra).
–Bus to Palmar Norte: To take this option, first, you’ll need to go to the Tracopa terminal and board the bus to Palmar Norte, which takes around 5 hours and 30 minutes. From Palmar Norte, you’ll then need to travel to Sierpe by taxi and take the boat (taxi ride costs about 5$). This method of transportation is less comfortable compared to taking the direct bus. The bus ticket is 7,750 CRC (14.50$ o 13.44€).
Getting to drake bay from UVITA, Dominical & MANUEL ANTONIO
There are two options for getting from Uvita, Dominical, or Manuel Antonio to Drake Bay: by bus or by transfer. Let’s dive into each option:
Getting to Bay Drake By transfer
I highly recommend this option, as there is no direct bus service to the Sierpe pier, and it could significantly delay your trip.
Transfers are available from UVITA (TRANSFER), DOMINICAL (TRANSFER), and also from MANUEL ANTONIO (TRANSFER). The driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you directly to the Sierpe pier. From there, you can board the BOAT (👉price and SCHEDULE) to Drake Bay.
Getting to Bay Drake By BUS
Getting from Uvita and Dominical to Drake Bay requires multiple bus or taxi transfers, followed by a boat ride at the Sierpe pier, making it a time-consuming and complicated journey.
If you’re staying in Manuel Antonio, I wouldn’t recommend getting to Sierpe by bus, as you would have to take a taxi to reach the first bus, adding to the already complicated journey.
Here’s how you can make the trip smoothly:
1. from Uvita & Dominical to Palmar Norte
In all 3 cases you will have to start by taking the bus that goes along the coastal road to Palmar Norte. The bus has stops at different points in Palmar Norte, and it is better to look at the map or ask before getting off to be sure. From Uvita the ticket is 1600 CRC. If you depart from Domincal, it will be a bit more expensive, but you can you this price as a reference.
If you go to Drake Bay, you can choose to get off at one of these 2 stops:
- the stop where all the taxi drivers are waiting for tourists to take them to Sierpe to catch the boat (it’s super easy to recognize, when the bus doors open you’ll hear: “taxiiii, taxiii”)
- you can also get off where the bus stop that goes to Sierpe is.
2. from Palmar Norte to Sierpe
Bus: the cheapest option is to go by bus, but there are timetables (ask at the hotel), few buses run and you will surely have to wait. The bus from Palmar Norte to Sierpe costs 375 CRC and takes 40 minutes to get there.
Taxi: personally I recommend you go by taxi, since it is immediate and, although you arrive early in Sierpe and have to wait for the boat to leave, the landscape is more beautiful: you can have a drink while you see the river, the parrots and maybe some crocodile
The taxi will cost you about $5 and, if you want to save, you can try to share expenses with other tourists. As you can see, for the difference in price it is not worth going by bus.
Personal experience: I decided to take the bus because I thought they would pass more often, and because I got angry with the only taxi driver in the area because he kept chasing me around town like a stalker. If I went back, I wouldn’t risk having to wait at the stop and go by taxi.
3. from Sierpe to drake bay
And now for the exciting part, the one-hour BOAT (👉price and SCHEDULE) ride. The scenery is breathtaking, with lush mangroves, the river mouth, and breathtaking views of the beaches from the sea.
The boat makes a stop at Playa Colorada, which is the most common disembarkation point, but it can also reach other secluded beaches (be sure to let the boat crew know, in case you have to pay extra).
As the above link suggests, the trip can be a bit pricey for foreign visitors, but visiting Drake Bay is worth it! To save on costs, you can make the return trip by minibus to Palma to see Puerto Jiménez.
How to get to Drake Bay by CAR
Driving to Drake Bay is a convenient choice that offers plenty of freedom and control. However, it’s important to note that the final stretch of the journey can be a bit rough, so you should take that into account before making a decision. In this guide, we’ll provide you with directions, specifics, and tips to make the trip safely.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can travel with your own vehicle or rent a car to travel through Costa Rica by road. I’ll tell you all the details you need to make the journey and some useful information.
Renting a car in Costa Rica
Road trips are a fantastic option and, in Costa Rica, you have a variety of vehicles and pick-up locations to choose from to meet your needs. In case you decide to RENT A CAR, I’ve listed a few pick-up locations near your destination and tourist areas that you might want to visit on your trip.
Also, keep in mind that you have the option of picking up and dropping off the car at different locations. For instance, you can pick up the car in San José and return it in La Fortuna.
|Car rental in SAN JOSÉ||Car rental in LA FORTUNA|
|Car rental in LIMÓN||Car rental in TAMARINDO|
|Car rental in UVITA||Car rental in PUERTO JIMÉNEZ|
|Car rental in QUEPOS y MANUEL ANTONIO||Car rental in LIBERIA|
Directions to get to Drake Bay by CAR
Drake Bay has two points of entry: by sea and by land. If you choose to drive, it will depend on the type of vehicle you have and the river conditions.
- Driving by land: you can reach the location I indicated on the map and then turn onto the Rincón road. The road leading to Drake Bay is not well-paved and you’ll need to cross four rivers to get there. Keep in mind, the river depths will vary depending on the time of year, whether it’s the dry or rainy season.
- By sea: you’ll need to head to the Sierpe pier and take a BOAT (👉price) to Drake Bay. You can park your car at one of the nearby restaurants for around US$5 per day.
Recommendation: It’s a good idea to get in touch with the hotel a few days ahead of your trip so they can provide updates on the current conditions and offer advice. They recommend traveling in a 4×4 off-road vehicle for the journey.
Where to stay in Drake Bay
The Bahía Drake tourist hub is situated in Colorada Beach and has a variety of hotels and hostels, as well as two supermarkets and a few restaurants to choose from. Although there’s enough to cover daily essentials, the dining options aren’t exactly extensive.
Staying on Isla del Caño is prohibited, as it is a nature reserve and doesn’t offer any accommodation on the island.
Staying at Colorada Beach
Regarding Bahía Drake, I believe the only compelling reason to stay near the tourist zone is if you need to have access to a nearby supermarket.
Furthermore, one disadvantage is that the majority of accommodations are not located on the beach, but rather on an uphill road that’s not visually appealing.
JINETES DE OSA HOTEL (👉price) boasts a prime location with direct beach access and rooms offering sea views. It comes with a complimentary buffet breakfast and massage services, ensuring a relaxing stay.
JACAMAR (👉price) is a hotel close to the restaurants area and has the added convenience of free private parking. It provides massage services and rooms with private balconies, ensuring a comfortable stay.
SUKIA (👉price) is a hostel that only offers shared dorms and is surrounded by nature. It has a hammock area for socializing and relaxation, as well as a small restaurant for mealtime enjoyment.
Staying at another beach
If you’re only planning on staying in the area for a few days, I believe it’s a better option to choose another beach where you can experience a more relaxed atmosphere, immerse yourself in nature, and have the ocean right in front of you.
Staying in the center of the trail will be extremely convenient for shorter hikes, allowing you to explore the beaches along the trail at a more leisurely pace.
At OCEAN FOREST ECOLODGE (👉price), you’ll be staying in charming wooden cabins located right on Rincón de San Josecito beach. The property boasts a garden and a restaurant that serves up local cuisine, as well as a variety of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
SUNSET TUCANO LODGE (👉price) features cabins with breathtaking views of the sea and comfortable hammocks for you to relax in. The room rate includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and parking is provided for free.
BELLA VISTA CORCOVADO (👉price)) is situated on the gorgeous Rincón beach and offers accommodation that includes a garden, free private parking, and a bar with amazing views of the bay.
GITANA HOTEL (👉price) is the perfect place to rest and relax and it also features a restaurant serving delicious meals. The rooms come with a terrace or sea views, allowing you to enjoy a surroundings close to nature.
LIFE FOR LIFE (👉price) is also the home of a sea turtle conservation project on San Josecito Beach. It offers options for private rooms and shared dorms and has a restaurant serving local food.
CORCOVADO JUNGLE HOSTEL (👉price) is a unique place in the middle of nature, located right next to Caletas Beach and has its own restaurant. It offers options for 2-person camping tents and shared dorms.
Tours and activities in Drake Bay
In Bahia Drake, there is a wide variety of tours and activities available for all tastes and ages, from hiking in the rainforest to diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific. Explore the unique fauna and flora of the region and learn about the culture and history of Bahia Drake.
Useful stuff for your trip to Costa Rica
Below, you will find some products that will be very useful during your trip to Costa Rica.
In addition, the options that I recommend are committed to the environment/social causes and are vegan.
Carrying a waterproof windbreaker in your suitcase is essential in case temperatures drop, it rains unexpectedly, or to go hiking.
When traveling, it’s important to choose a jacket that is lightweight, takes up little space and that you can use in different situations; that is to say, that transpires, is waterproof and has a hood to protect you properly from bad weather.
Gopro 11 Black
The GOPRO 11 (👉 PRICE) is a great choice if you are visiting natural areas, practicing adventure sports or want to make videos underwater, e.g. while scuba diving or snorkeling.
In addition, with its stabilization and Horizon Lock function, it will allow you to make incredibly stable videos even in adverse situations (such as walking, running or riding a motorcycle). In addition, it comes with an amazing 5.3k image quality.
👉 GOPRO 11 PRICE + specs
3-in-1 hiking shoes
These La Sportiva shoes are designed to run in the mountains, thanks to this you can use them for hiking, go out to run and do tourism ; saving space in your suitcase.
They are made with goretex, which means they protect you from the inclement weather weather (such as rain, ice or cold) and are adherent to the ground. This makes them ideal for traveling due to their versatility.
Best time to visit Drake Bay and Caño Island
Drake Bay is located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. In this area the seasons are divided into the dry season (from December to April) and the rainy season. With heat peaks between November and March.
If you are interested in snorkeling or diving in Caño Island, the conditions are better during the warm season. Since the rainy season takes place from May to November and the visibility to enjoy the underwater life gets worse.
In order to better decide when to visit Drake Bay, you have to know that the whales arrive in Costa Rica twice a year: from July to November, and from December to March. It is an ideal time to plan your trip and observe these incredible animals in their natural habitat.
What to do in Drake Bay
The main attraction of Drake Bay and its surroundings are the paradisiacal beaches, the fauna, and scuba diving and snorkeling. I will tell you about some of the places and activities that you cannot miss during your stay.
Playa Cocolito is one of the beaches on the trail, and it’s pretty quiet. It is divided in two by a small stone wall and provides a little more privacy.
There is a grassy area to lie down where people usually gather, and it has a hotel where you can spend the night.
Playa Caletas seemed to me to be one of the best beaches in Drake Bay, and although it has a hotel on the beach itself, it is not at all noisy, but you can easily find yourself alone.
It is super neat and tidy, and you can peacefully swing on a wooden swing while admiring the views. When I went, I could see two eagles trying to catch a pelican with no luck.
Isla del Caño is a protected park that is located just off the coast of Drake Bay.
Tours are organized for snorkeling (70 $US) and diving (2 dives for 135 $US) and a short stop is made on the island. The seascape is very beautiful, it is full of towering columns of coral.
Warning: it is not a type of snorkel that I would recommend for people who are afraid of deep water, since you will be swimming in the open sea and the depth is about 10m.
Is Costa Rica SAFE to Travel?
Costa Rica is a moderately dangerous country, where nothing should happen to you if you go carefully and take precautions. Remember to follow these recommendations:
- In case of robbery, do not resist physically.
- Do not show a high purchasing power, that is, do not go with jewels, bags, etc … that are expensive.
- Be careful if you go out at night, and stay in crowded places where you are surrounded by other people.
- Thefts are usual, so don’t go with the camera or mobile in your hand or hang out of your neck.
- Try to avoid carrying the backpack on the back. Put it in front of you, or use a belt pouch or a cross bag.
Personally, I spent 3 months traveling alone in Costa Rica (I visited San José, Puerto Viejo, Tortuguero, Dominical, Uvita, Bay Drake and Puerto Jiménez) and I did not find myself in any really serious situation.
Going down the street with the camera, several Costa Rican people approached and warned me that they were carefully with robberies, since they told me that they are very frequent.
In my case, during the trip they tried to steal 2 times and, luckily, I realized on time and I could avoid it. In any case, it is always a good idea to have travel insurance (👉5% discount) that can compensate you financially and help you if a medical emergency occurs.
If you are interested in traveling alone, I recommend this article about the reasons and benefits of traveling alone and this other article with tips for traveling alone being a woman. I encourage you to try it since it is a great and very profitable experience for oneself.
Eating VEGAN in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is not a country faced with vegan food. Anyway, they have some traditional dishes that are vegan or that you can ask without egg or sauces such as the pico of rooster (rice with beans for breakfast), black bean soup or rice with vegetables.
You should always ask if the purés or soups are made with some type of dairy product or meat broth, since at first glance they might seem vegan dishes but not be.
In San José you can find some vegan restaurants, but when you leave the capital the offer is very limited or non -existent. Next, I make three recommendations and in this link you can read tips to travel vegan.
- Try to stay in hotels that are characterized by cooking vegan and vegetarian dishes. This is the best option and the most practical for not having to be looking for places where to eat comfortable without always repeating the same dishes.
- Before going on a tour that includes a meal, always mention that you are vegan or vegetarian, so that they can adapt the food.
- Costa Rica is a country where you can find a variety of fresh products (fruits and vegetables) to prepare salads and breakfast with fruits. In any city or town, you will easily find some supermarket or stalls on the street where you can buy groceries.
FAQs about getting to Drake Bay
Yes, both private and shared transfers (👉price) are available for travel between Sierpe and Manuel Antonio, and vice versa. The journey takes approximately 2 hours to cover the 128km distance.
You can park your car at one of the restaurants in the pier for about $5 per day (in either dollars or colones). These parking areas are mainly for tourists and are considered the safest option. From there, you can simply board the BOAT (👉price and schedule) to reach Drake.
There are several transportation options available to reach Drake Bay, including transfers, boats, airplanes, buses, and cars. The mean of transportation you select will depend on your point of origin, the time of year when you plan to visit Bahia Drake, and your budget.