Are you traveling to Puerto Jiménez (Costa Rica) and wondering what to do, what its beaches are like, which are the best places to visit, and where you can go snorkeling?
In this guide, I will tell you what to visit in Puerto Jiménez, which tours are most recommended, HOW TO GET TO PUERTO JIMÉNEZ and what to see during your stay.
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Puerto Jimenez in Golfo Dulce (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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Puerto Jiménez is a pretty coastal town on the Osa Peninsula. The closest beaches are located in Golfo Dulce and, thanks to its geography, the waters are calm and perfect for bathing.
It is surrounded by the Corcovado National Park, the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve and the Piedras Blancas National Park. As you can imagine, it is a region that has a great diversity of fauna due to the long expanses of forest and jungle.
The town itself is not very large, but it does have a small jetty from which the tours depart and it is an ideal place to watch the sunset and spot dolphins as they approach the shore.
They’re close enough that you can see them jump and swim with their fins sticking out, it’s quite a sight!
What to do in Puerto Jimenez (Costa Rica)
Puerto Jiménez is not one of the main tourist places in the country, and most people who end up here aim to visit the Corcovado National Park.
It is a great idea to spend a few extra days in this corner of Costa Rica, since it has beautiful places that are worth visiting. For me, it was one of the best stops on the route.
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is located south of Puerto Jiménez on the Osa Peninsula. It’s made up of thirteen different ecosystems, including mangroves, swamps, and rainforests.
This park is a crucial and incredibly important place in Costa Rica, boasting the highest density of biological diversity in the world. You’ll have the chance to spot many different animals in the wild, such as the quetzal (a gorgeous bird with an incredibly long tail), eagles, pumas, jaguars, sea turtles, and crocodiles.
All of this sounds amazing, but it’s important to note that this is also a potentially dangerous place to visit. If you choose to explore this natural paradise, you need to know that hiring a guide is mandatory.
From Puerto Jiménez, you can find several guided tours available. Depending on your budget and the amount of time you have, you can opt for a 2-NIGHT STAY (👉price) in Corcovado to visit different areas of the park or, if you have limited time, take a 1-DAY TOUR (👉price) and focus on the Sirena station area.
Bioluminescence in Puerto Jiménez
You’ll have the chance to witness bioluminescence in Puerto Jiménez. If you’re not familiar with this phenomenon, it involves microorganisms that emit light as they move through the water. It’s truly a beautiful sight, with the water being filled with small, colorful lights.
During your stay in the area, don’t miss out on this amazing experience. I highly recommend taking a BIOLUMINESCENCE TOUR (👉price) with a guide who knows the best locations and timing to go. Additionally, you can even go snorkeling safely to observe the bioluminescence from underwater.
Spot crocodiles and dolphins
In the area around the pier, you can rent kayaks for a journey through the mangroves that lead from the sea to the lagoons. You can either go solo or opt for a guided KAYAK TOUR (👉price), where a knowledgeable guide can tell you all about the surroundings.
The river mouth leading to the lagoon area is an ideal location to spot crocodiles and dolphins. It’s a great excursion to take, not just for the breathtaking scenery but also for the chance to see some incredible wildlife.
If kayaking is not your cup of tea, you can also choose to go on a BOAT TOUR to spot DOLPHINS (👉price). It’s a comfortable and stunning way to experience the sea and the amazing wildlife of Golfo Dulce, without putting in too much effort.
Explore Golfo Dulce
Golfo Dulce is a beautiful bay on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It’s home to a wide variety of marine life, including whales, giant sea turtles, and dolphins. The region surrounding the Gulf is rich in biodiversity, with lush tropical jungle that harbors monkeys, poisonous frogs, anteaters, sloths, and a wide variety of birds, such as toucans and scarlet macaws.
You can choose to explore the area on your own or embark on a 2-DAY TOUR (👉price) by boat and kayak, which will allow you to go hiking, enjoy water activities, and see the highlights of this bay.
This is a park next to the lagoon where wild crocodiles quietly inhabit. But without bars or any kind of protection, they run around freely while people stroll or sit quietly on a bench.
You will also be able to observe other animals such as monkeys and different types of birds. I recommend that you go as it is a fun place and in the heart of Puerto Jiménez.
To complete the experience to this crocodile park, the entrance is half hidden between bushes and makes it a book adventure.
Playa Preciosa (Beach)
Playa Preciosa is a very long beach that is quite close to the center of Puerto Jiménez and It has some accommodations.
This is a wild beach with an area of palapas and the sea is suitable for taking a dip. The landscape is very natural, and it is a quiet place away from the crowds.
It’s a good option for a half-day excursion, but take sunscreen because there’s not much shade on this beach!
Playa Sándalo is another place to snorkel in Puerto Jimenez. Not far from the coast there is a reef with different types of fish and the water is not too deep.
Unlike Playa Blanca, Sándalo is much quieter and more relaxed, as the beach is quite muddy and not comfortable to walk on.
These two beaches are very close to each other, and can easily be visited in the same day using public transport.
Playa Blanca is located in the part of above Golfo Dulce and its waters are very calm, as if it were a lake; although the beach itself is not particularly pretty.
People usually get together to ride to have lunch on the beach and swim for a while and, in addition, you can snorkel. I spent the afternoon there and was able to see two rays, puffer fish, a giant tortoise and a dolphin from afar.
For me it was one of the best excursions I did in Puerto Jiménez, due to the authenticity of the place and the huge turtle I managed to see.
BEACH + PUERTO JIMÉNEZ VIEWPOINT
It is a pleasant place because of the atmosphere. The main area of Puerto Jiménez is made up of a street with some restaurants and a viewpoint next to it from the sea.
At the end of it all is a beach where people hang out. The water is very calm and the beach at high tide almost disappears, leaving a path full of palm trees with people sitting having a coconut or a beer.
On the beach itself there is a restaurant in particular that always plays loud music, and it is very fun to buy a coconut, sit on the sand and listen to the music while surrounded by families who go there to spend the afternoon.
Although there are restaurants, this place is not non-touristy or cramped, and you can eat something and enjoy the views of the bay.
King Louis waterfall
The King Louis Waterfall is in the middle of nature, and is suitable for bathing if you dare to dive into its cold waters.
The waterfall and the environment are beautiful and pleasant: the water falls from very high and the place is very quiet and away from the road and people.
King Louis is located in Cabo Matapalo (south of Puerto Jiménez) and has the advantage of being very close to the area’s beaches; this way you can organize a more complete excursion and see a little more of this area of Costa Rica.
Cabo Matapalo (Beaches)
Unlike the previous beaches that are in the inner part of Golfo Dulce, the beaches in and around Cabo Matapalo have stronger waves, and there are also fewer people and tourists.
It is a good place to surf as the waves are stronger; but keep in mind that these are virgin beaches without a lifeguard, so you should practice this sport accompanied.
I also recommend this area to disconnect and enjoy the nature of the place being alone or almost alone, since there are a lot of white-faced monkeys!
How to get to Puerto Jiménez
I’ll show you how to get to Puerto Jiménez from two common starting points: San Jose and Drake Bay.
I’ll give you a brief summary of the journey below, but if you want to read about the trip in more detail, I’ll also explain how to get to Puerto Jiménez from San Jose and Drake Bay.
How to get to Puerto Jiménez from San José
You have three ways to go to Puerto Jiménez: by transfer (👉price), bus and car.
Hiring a shuttle (👉price) is the fastest and most comfortable way to make the journey (you will arrive in about 5h 30min or 6h). It’s also safer, because you won’t have to go up and down with your bags.
If you want to go by bus, I recommend you leave early, since the journey is long and it is always better to arrive day and with enough time to find the hotel. The ticket price is 8,265 CRC.
The last option is to go in car. Puerto Jiménez is located at a distance of 374 km from San José, and it will take about 5h 30min or 6h to reach your destination. The path is pretty clear and you shouldn’t have any problems.
How to get to Puerto Jiménez from Drake Bay
To get there from Drake Bay you can decide between going in transfer (👉 price), bus and car.
If you’re looking for comfort, arranging a shuttle is the best option in this case. You’ll be picked up directly from your hotel and taken to your new accommodation in Puerto Jiménez.
The second option is to go by colectivo and then change at La Palma to catch the bus that will take you to Puerto Jimenez. The entire journey will cost around 5,000 CRC.
If you decide to go by car, you have to know that the road is not in the best conditions and you will have to cross 4 rivers.
You should contact the hotel beforehand, so they can tell you what the conditions are (they get worse in the rainy season) and advise you (it is recommended to make the journey in a 4×4 off-road vehicle).
Where to stay in Puerto Jiménez
There are two areas that I recommend to stay in Puerto Jiménez, depending on whether you are looking for something calmer or to have more facilities.
First there is the most central area (that of the town itself), here you will have several restaurants and a large supermarket. Within the town, the best area to stay is next to the beach, since the views are more beautiful and there is more atmosphere. The only drawback I see is that it is a bit far from the main supermarket.
High budget: BOTANIKA OSA
If you are looking for something further from the downtown area to be able to enjoy the beach and relax, I recommend that you stay at Preciosa beach. It is a beach not far from the center of Puerto Jiménez (you can get there by bike) and the beach is long and quiet. You can spend the afternoon on a sun lounger and enjoy nature.
High budget: IGUANA LODGE
Quiet and a bit far away
There are also quite a few lodgings in Cabo Matapalo; although they are far from the center of Puerto Jiménez. The advantage of staying here is that the beaches are very beautiful, you will be in the middle of the jungle and you can visit the waterfalls!
There are very nice hotels next to the beach, and they will be perfect to unwind for a few days. You can get to Cabo Matapalo by private transport or by bus.
Is it worth visiting Puerto Jiménez?
Puerto Jiménez was one of the places I enjoyed the most during my trip to Costa Rica. It has something special that makes time stop and you can relax.
It has the advantage of not being as touristy as other places in the country and you can feel the local life; although due to its proximity to the Corcovado park it is still focused on tourism.
I recommend that you spend a few days in Puerto Jiménez and give this beautiful coastal town a chance.
Tours in Puerto Jiménez
Puerto Jiménez is a region abundant in wildlife and nature, boasting opportunities for visiting pristine beaches, snorkeling, birdwatching, crocodile viewing, kayaking, and more.
There are different TOURS and ACTIVITIES that you can do during your trip, so you can make the most of your stay:
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.
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.
Have a great time during the excursion and enjoy Puerto Jiménez as much as you can!
FAQs when planning your trip to Puerto Jiménez
Puerto Jiménez is a small coastal town situated on the Osa Peninsula (Puntarenas), in the southern region of Costa Rica. It’s located about 355 km away from San José, the capital city of the country
Four days would be an ideal duration to spend in Puerto Jiménez, allowing you ample time to visit the Corcovado National Park, enjoy its pristine beaches, discover the mangroves, and witness the beautiful waterfalls in the region.