Port of Puntarenas, Central & South Pacific, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Central Pacific region is a highly popular tourist destination, especially for its easy access to the Central Valley. Only one to two hours from the capital city of San Jose, you have beautiful beaches, fun coastal resort towns, the country’s most important Pacific ports, and fantastic surfing, sportfishing, sailing, scuba diving, and other water sports. Lined with a stunning mountainous coastline, the Central Pacific is a transition zone from tropical dry forest to tropical rainforest. It is not as humid as the Caribbean Coast or the South Pacific; however, it is rainier than Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula.
The Central Pacific region extends from the port city of Puntarenas to the mouth of the Barú River, where Costa Rica’s South Pacific begins at Dominical. Its main towns of tourism interest are Puntarenas, Jacó, Quepos and Manuel Antonio. The Central Pacific also includes the Nicoya Gulf islands, which are accessed from the ferry port at Puntarenas. The port of Caldera, just south of Puntarenas, is the country’s main Pacific port for cargo and cruise ships. Driving down the coastal highway from Puntarenas to Dominical, you will be enthralled with the stunning scenery.
The Central Pacific’s national parks and other wilderness areas are its biggest attractions. It is a region with great biodiversity of abundant species of plants and animals. Considered the “crown jewel” of Costa Rica’s national parks, the Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the smallest yet most-visited of all of the parks.
Approximately driving times from San Jose Airport to:
From San Jose Airport to Approximately Driving times
  • Port of Puntarenas
1.15 hours
  • Tarcoles Bridge
1:15 hours
  • Jaco Beach
1:30 hours
  • Esterillos Oeste
1:45 hours
  • City of Parrita
2 hours
  • Quepos and Manuel Antonio
3 hours

South Pacific of Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s South Pacific region is a wild tropical paradise teeming with wildlife and lush vegetation. From enchanting, secluded beaches to celebrated ecotourism destinations, Costa Rica's South Pacific is an outdoor adventurer's dream. The climate here is hot, tropical and rainy throughout the year, and the South Pacific’s forests are some of the most bountiful in the country. 
The South Pacific stretches from Dominical south down the Pacific Coast and eastward across the rugged Talamanca Mountain Range to the Panamanian border. The region encompasses such famous sites as the Costa Ballena (Whale Coast), the Ballena National Marine Park, the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park, Caño Island Biological Reserve, Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf), the La Amistad (Friendship) International Park and World Heritage Site, and Mt. Chirripo – Costa Rica’s highest peak. The beaches along the South Pacific Coast are some of the world’s most pristine, and include such legendary surfing spots as Pavones, Zancudo, Dominical, and Matapalo.
The remote and untouched Osa Peninsula is home to the vast Corcovado National Park, named by National Geographic Magazine as the most “biologically intense place on Earth.” Spanning 108,100 acres, nearly a third of the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado is an awe-inspiring destination for adventure travellers who come to experience the virgin lowland rainforest and diverse wildlife that resides within the park's limits. Roughly 10 percent of all mammals found throughout the Americas live in Corcovado, and it is home to the largest gathering of Scarlet Macaws in the country. 
The list of things to do in the South Pacific is extensive: hiking, multi-day trekking and camping, mountain climbing to the summit of Mt. Chirripó, cultural tours to indigenous reserves, whale and dolphin watching tours, exploring mangrove estuaries by boat or kayak, sportfishing, surfing, scuba diving and snorkelling, sea kayaking, swimming, and beach time.
You can reach the South Pacific by travelling along Highway 34, which runs down the scenic Pacific Coast, or by crossing the Talamanca Mountain Range from the Central Valley. There are domestic airports at Palmar Sur, Puerto Jimenez and Golfito for national flights.
Approximately driving times from San Jose Airport to:
From San Jose Airport to Approximately Driving times
  • Port of Dominical
3.45 hours
  • Uvita Beach & Ballena Bay
4:00 hours
  • Ojochal
4:15 hours
  • Palmar Norte
4:30 hours
  • Sierpe
4:45 hours
  • Puerto Jimenez
5 hours