Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica
Province of Puntarenas
Golfo Dulce Travel Guide
Golfo Dulce is located at the south of the Province of Puntarenas, between the Osa Peninsula and Costa Rica's southern Pacific coastline. The area contains 50% of the flora and fauna of the country and hugs pristine beaches, rivers and a tall evergreen forest, which is protected as the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve. As one of the wettest places on Earth, with over 200 inches of rainfall a year, the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve is known for its biodiversity.
In May 2018, the government of Costa Rica assigned the wetlands in northern Golfo Dulce as a sanctuary for the scalloped hammerhead shark, creating 4,000 hectares of ‘no-take’ zone: the first shark sanctuary in Costa Rica. Golfo Dulce was also announced a Mission Blue hope spot in 2019, following the recognition of the unique biome of the tropical gulf as home to marine life including the scalloped hammerheads, humpback whale and four species of dolphin. Mission Blue, aims to raise awareness and protect areas of the sea highlighted as “critical to the health of the ocean”.
Things to do in Golfo Dulce
Birdwatching at Piedras Blancas and Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve
Piedras Blancas National Park and Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve are the lesser known neighbors of Corcovado National Park. As an important gathering point for birds, Piedras Blancas is one of the best places in the country for birdwatching. The high levels of humidity that persist all year round make for a lush and green forest where many plants and animals can be found. Other than birds, you can also spot jaguar, coatis and monkeys.
Golfo Dulce’s warm and clear waters, protected from the open Pacific Ocean, are an extraordinary habitat for marine life. Besides being a crucial birthing spot for migrating humpback whales, Golfo Dulce is home to several kinds of dolphins, sea turtles, rays, sharks and numerous tropical fish. Thanks to these nutrient-rich waters, snorkeling in Costa Rica in Golfo Dulce can be an amazing experience of wildlife encounters. During whale-watching season in July, August and September in the gulf, you might see a visiting humpback whale mother and her calf, or a male whale looking for a mate. Almost always you will see dolphins, and if you’re really lucky you might spot a massive (and gentle) whale shark.
Close to shore, the clear water’s blues and grays reflect endless shades of green palm trees and jungle that crowd the water’s edge. Look down and you’ll probably see colorful fish swimming below your kayak.
Golfo Dulce tours to other destinations nearby
Corcovado National Park
Venture through primary rainforest, explore a breathtaking waterfall and soak in all of what Corcovado National Park and the beautiful surroundings have to offer. You will have the chance to see many diverse animal species, birds, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods. It’s one of the most important national parks in Costa Rica and is home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity.
Golfito is a town directly west of the Golfo Dulce that has turned to the Duty-Free Shopping Center as its economic strength. Before its economy was based on the vast palm oil plantations and before that on the banana plantations. For most tourists, it serves as a getaway to the surrounding destinations.
Zancudo is a remote shoreline northwest of the Golfo Dulce. Zancudo attracts tourists with its pristine beaches and natural beauty; it is one of the less inhabited areas of Costa Rica.
Surfing at Pavones
Pavones is located south of the Golfo Dulce. The economy of the town is primarily based on local fishing; however there is also a large eco-tourism and surf-tourism draw. Pavones is a popular destination for hikers, and also contains the second longest point break on Earth which attracts countless surfers.
Location and Map
The easiest way to get to Golfo Dulce is by taking a 45-minute flight from San Jose to either Golfito or Puerto Jimenez. Sansa Airlines, Aerobell Airlines as well as various other private charters such as Aero Caribe CR have several flights a day departing from San Jose. You can also drive from San Jose to Golfito. It will take approximately 5 hours to get to Golfito. We recommend to take the coastal route via the Costanera/Route 34, passing by Jaco, Quepos and all the way south to Dominical and Uvita. Once in Golfito you can leave your car in a private garage and take a boat ride to your lodge.