Located in southern Costa Rica, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is only accessible by boat on the gulf of Golfo Dulce, where it borders the remote Piedras Blancas National Park. To get there, you can either drive or fly to either the towns of Puerto Jimenez or Golfito. Staff from Nicuesa Lodge will pick you up at either place and take you across the gulf by boat to the lodge on its 165-acre private reserve.
Since Nicuesa Lodge is remotely located, included in your reservation are all of your meals and snacks and boat transfers. You also have included unlimited self-guided hikes in their reserve, and free use of kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, snorkeling and fishing equipment. There are many nature and adventure tours available (for a fee) which you can enjoy with Nicuesa’s excellent naturalist guides.
How to Get to Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge by Flying
Flying is the fastest and easiest way to get to southern Costa Rica and Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge. Both domestic airlines of Nature Air and Sansa Airlines offer several flights a day departing from the Juan Santamaría International Airport by San Jose. You may reserve your flights online, or Nicuesa Lodge’s reservations staff can help you with these arrangements.
The flight takes approximately 50 minutes to arrive to either Puerto Jimenez, on the Osa Peninsula side of Golfo Dulce, or Golfito which is on the eastern mainland side. Flying in small 19-passenger planes – that are twin engine and meet all safety standards – is excellent for sightseeing. Have your camera ready during the flight because the scenery is spectacular!
Most morning flights have clear visibility and as you leave the Central Valley, you’ll fly over rugged green mountains, little villages, and along the Pacific Coast. You’ll fly past the Manuel Antonio National Park and Ballena Marine National Park – if you’re lucky it will be low tide and you can see the amazing “whale’s tail” sand spit. The Sierpe River, at the entrance to the Osa Peninsula, looks like a huge silver snake winding through a carpet of green jungle; this is one of the largest last-remaining lowland coastal jungles in Central America. As you pop over low mountains, Drake Bay and Cano Island in the Pacific will be on your right, and the beautiful blue and turquoise gulf of Golfo Dulce will be to your left.
The air fields in Golfito and Puerto Jimenez are simple runways. After landing, your pilots will unload the luggage onto the tarmac where you merely pick up your bag and go. A Nicuesa Lodge staff member will be there waiting for you to take you by taxi to the boat dock.
Puerto Jimenez is a quiet little town with a “frontier” feel, justified by its location at the tip of the Osa Peninsula on the edge of the wild jungle of the Corcovado National Park. The larger town of Golfito was once the center of operations for United Fruit Company’s banana production in southern Costa Rica and northern Panama. As you drive through town to the marina, you will pass restored old, wooden British-colonial-style houses built for United Fruit Company management in a neighborhood called the “American Zone”. You will also pass the large duty-free shopping zone, which helped revitalize Golfito’s economy after United Fruit closed its operations in 1985, following a banana blight.
How to Get to Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge by Driving
Driving is a slower, more scenic way to get to Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge that lets you experience the picturesque landscapes of Costa Rica. The drive time is approximately 5 hours on well-maintained roads to travel the 329 km between the Juan Santamaría International Airport and Golfito, recommended by Nicuesa Lodge as the place to leave your vehicle.
The easiest route is to drive down the Coastal Highway (Route 34) past the colorful beach towns of Jaco, Quepos, Dominical and Uvita; and continuing on the Pan-American Highway (Route 2) to the town of Rio Claro where you take Route 14 toward Golfito.
In Golfito, Nicuesa Lodge recommends parking your car at Samoa del Sur Restaurant and Cabins by the marina, which has 24-hour security. The cost per day for parking there is $15.
The Boat Ride to Nicuesa Lodge
Your adventure getting to Nicuesa Lodge continues skimming across the calm blue-green waters of the Golfo Dulce in one of the lodge’s canopied boats. The trip takes about 35 minutes from either town. Keep an eye out for dolphins, sea turtles, and sea birds like pelicans and Frigatebirds. In August or September you might see migrating humpback whales.
The scenery is mesmerizing. The coastline is dense with green forest and low mountains, and the gulf reflects the immense sky. There are no buildings to be seen, just pristine jungle in all its natural beauty.
Soon, you will arrive in a small bay to the long boat dock at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge. Here, the clear water looks like liquid jade, reflecting the endless shades of green palm trees and rainforest that crowd the edge of the pebble and sand beach.
Welcome to paradise!
Take advantage of Nicuesa Lodge’s special promotion through Dec. 15, 2016: Reserve 3 nights and get the 4th night free!
Article by Shannon Farley