South Pacific Costa Rica
Costa Rica's South Pacific region is very rural, to put it one way. The area historically relied on agriculture and life revolved around that fact. Cultural aspects of the inhabitants of this region are marked by the typical "campesino" lifestyle, or the 'countryman' lifestyle. Nevertheless, this area of Costa Rica also presents important cities and towns with their respective urban lifestyle.
This region is also very tourism-oriented. There are important national parks, such as Chirripo National Park, and even an international park (shared with Panama) called La Amistad International Park.
It is good to know that Costa Rica's south pacific inhabitants tend to use the word "Usted" instead of "Vos" or "Tu", meaning "you".
The "Costanera Sur" (Southern Costa Road) between Dominical and Quepos has finally been completed (May 2010) after many years of work. The coastal highway is now paved all the way from border to border. Coming from Central Valley one may choose between this route and the Panamerican Highway. On the main roads between Perez Zeledon and Paso Canoas TRACOPA runs several busses which conect as well to San José and the Central Valley.
Osa Peninsula, where you will find Costa Rica’s jewel of the National Park System, Corcovado National Park. Osa continues to provide adventure travelers with great photos of monkeys, tapirs, cats,dolphins, whales and exotic birds. What most people don’t realize is that a new super hwy # 245 was just completed, so now it’s only a 5 hr. drive from San Jose vs. the usual trek over the mountains and through raging rivers. Navigating pot holes the size of Hollywood swimming pools are now cherished memories.
The days are over when you just abandoned your rental car along the side of the pot hole riddled road and hitchhiked your way to Puerto Jimenez. Yup…new asphalt, bridges, painted yellow lines, passing lanes, guard rails and bus stops in each town. You could certainly sneak under the radar and land a small plane just like the ole days. Most people don’t know, but Puerto Jimenez was a dusty old gold mine town in its hay day, built completely in support of eager and persistent gold miners and the richest deposits of Gold in the world.
Dirt roads came to The Osa 28 Years ago when president Nobel Peace Prize Winner - Oscar Arias was President of Costa Rica back in the early 80’s and he signed a deal with Ronald Reagan. The Roads for Peace project was born and the US Army corp. of engineers got busy building roads, bridges and schools. USA could keep a close eye on all of the Ollie North and Noriega activity in the mountains high above the city of David, Panama. Costa Rica and Taiwan were the only two countries that benefited from the short lived Roads for Peace program. Life for Costa Ricans has never been the same since.
28 years later the road is all finished up. Coincidentally ICE has upgraded the electrical capacity in the area and we have several new airstrips and 3-G wireless technology . But as usually, they’ve already over sold the band width, so don’t bother checking your e mail between 4-9 pm. and forget about weekend surfing, your best surfing is still in Matapalo.
Funky Puerto Jimenez is starting to catch up with the rest of the world. With the new road and improved infrastructure all neat and tiddy, The Osa could be ready to join the ranks of Tamarindo and Jaco, however most locals don't even want to think about it.
Most people visiting The Osa Peninsula usually plan a week or two vacation, and that can get expensive while staying at beach lodges and resorts, especially if you are traveling as a family. Most people want to stay on the beach when visiting Southern Costa Rica, but what most people don’t know about Costa Rica, is that beaches are unbelievably HOT ! Full of Purajas ( sand flees ) black sand and open to the public, so you don’t get the privacy you deserve while your on vacation. Most of the lodges and eco resorts on the Osa Peninsula are off the grid, so adequate power, hot water and the 5 star amenities our civilization has grown to expect are a hit and miss.
Visit the Finca Sonador 30 km south of Pérez Zeledon. The Finca Sonador is a refugee project founded in 1979. Nowadays 400 families live in the community, growing mainly coffee and sugar cane besides the food they consume on their own. Tourism is still a by income here and money goes straight into the families you stay with.