Drake Bay Activities
Bird and Wildlife Watching
By just stepping out of your hotel you may cross paths with agoutis, frogs, coatis, sloths, monkeys and a multitude of interesting insects. Commonly sighted birds include toucans, tanagers, hummingbirds, woodpeckers and common black hawks. Camouflaged species may go undetected by the untrained eye; hiring a local naturalist guide will definitely increase your chances of spotting well-hidden creatures. Scarlet macaws are wild and abundant in Drake Bay, and seeing them in their natural habitat is nothing short of magical. They make their presence known by a piercing squawk that can be heard from quite a distance away.
Drake Bay’s exhilarating canopy tour is made up of nine platforms, six cables, and one rappel that drops 80 feet to the ground. The adventure begins high in the hills, at the convergence of the Rio Agujitas and Rio Claro, and is generally reached by ATV or on horseback. Less daring folks can watch the action and keep an eye out for wildlife from a 30-foot observation walkway.
Dolphin and Whale Watching Tours
The waters near Drake Bay boast an incredibly long season for humpback whales, with migrations coming from both North and South America. During “whale season,” December- April and July-October, spectators aboard passing boats, and even on the mainland, can spot whales breaching in the bay.
The most common dolphin sightings include spinner, spotted, and bottlenose dolphins. Spinners travel offshore in groups of hundreds of individuals, jumping and performing flips in the air. Bottlenose and spotted varieties also dally in acrobatics, often swimming in mixed groups and riding at the bows of passing boats.
Corcovado’s Pedrillo Biological Station features two main trails. The first is about an hour long, leading to a waterfall and swimming hole. The second is a loop through the rainforest and by the beach. Venomous snakes are prevalent in the area, and it is important that visitors go with a certified guide.
The Sirena Station at Corcovado is much less trafficked than Pedrillo, with six trails varying in length from one to ten hours. While the surf looks great, entering the water is not advised – aggressive bull sharks commonly trawl the salty waters. Many elusive species, like tapirs, pumas and a number of rare birds, are seen more often here than in other parts of the park.
For a strenuous and unforgettable coastal hike, follow the trail that begins by the beach, past the Aguila de Osa Inn. Cross the suspension bridge over the Aguila River and hike steeply uphill for about ten minutes. Turn left, noting the sign pointing towards the bridge (it is easy to miss on the way back), and pass by Hotel Paloma on the right. Follow the signs to the first beach: Cocalito. The shore winds southwest for about six hours on foot, ending at Corcovado National Park – and passes by several lovely beaches along the way.
Horseback riding along the shore and through Drake Bay’s primary forests is one of the most peaceful ways to explore the area. Guides are familiar with their horses as well as with the topography of the trails, offering half-day tours at reasonable prices.
The Rio Agujitas is a wonderful place to kayak at high tide. Crocodiles here are small and generally regarded as harmless. The Rio Claro sports much rougher waters and larger beasts. Kayaking in the open ocean is also enjoyable, and usually tranquil enough for even beginners to maneuver. Many hotels rent kayaks to guests for a nominal fee.
Half or full day boat and kayak tours to the Terraba-Sierpe National Wetlands, are available. Bird watching is especially good here, and people come from all over the world to observe the avifauna in this unique ecosystem. Monkeys (four species), sloths, anteaters and other wildlife are often spotted among some of the tallest mangroves in the world.
Get to know Drake Bay’s beaches, rainforests, farms and back roads on a new Cannondale suspension mountain bike. Tours run from one and a half to three hours, and range in level of intensity and skill.
Experience a night tour with “Tracie the Bug Lady,” an expert in all things creepy and crawly. The adventure lasts about two and a half hours, and gives visitors an opportunity to see long-horned beetles, jumping spiders, canopy cockroaches, kinkajous, anteaters and an array of snakes and frogs.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
Cano Island is Drake Bay’s hottest spot for snorkeling and diving. Year-round warm water and excellent visibility, even in cloudy weather, make it worth the 45-minute boat trek. Along the way, passengers have the opportunity to view leaping dolphins and skipping rays, along with a variety of seabirds and flying fish. Once under the sea, divers can observe a variety of marine life, including bicolor parrotfish, jewel damsels, Moorish idols, barber fish, golden phase puffer fish, spotted sharpnose puffer fish, surgeon fish, grouper, butterfly angel fish, wrasses, boxfish, king damsels, amberjacks, and more.
Other popular snorkeling spots can be discovered around the isolated shores along the beach walk leading to Corcovado National Park. San Josecito, in particular, hosts a variety of life when waters are calm. For the physically fit, kayaking or hiking out to these beaches – and then snorkeling – is an exciting way to explore the area.
Discover your inner angler on an exciting inshore, offshore or river fishing excursion. Rooster, jacks, black tuna and mackerel are popular inshore catches, while sailfish, marlin, mahi mahi, yellow fin tuna and snapper are caught offshore. Passing whales, dolphins and sea turtles keep fishermen entertained during dry spells – but these waters are so incredibly rich that expeditions are almost guaranteed to come back with some sort of catch for dinner.
The Rio Agujitas and Rio Claro estuaries boast the area’s prime surfing spots, and are best reached by boat. Locals tend to prefer Rio Claro’s rocky point break above all others. The river mouths at the nearby Ganado and Sierpe Rivers, along with Playa Rincon, also have decent sandy-bottom beach breaks. Another notable spot is at Rio Llorona’s estuary, where waves have been known to reach heights of 16 feet. The best time to surf around Drake Bay is between half-low and half-high tide.
If the beach isn’t quite relaxing enough, partake in one of Drake Bay’s yoga classes. Focus on keeping your mind in the present and heal those tired muscles. Yoga is the perfect remedy for soreness brought on by hiking, kayaking, swimming and other strenuous outdoor activities.