Scared Senseless: a Boat Trip to the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica (Video Post)

Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica by boat

“The most biologically intense place on Earth.”
National Geographic Magazine

I was scared about travelling to the Osa peninsula but I never realised I’d actually be squealing with terror on the journey.

With no roads and access only by boat or foot the Osa Peninsula has maintained its wild jungles, abundant wildlife and natural beauty.

Imagine miles of uninhabited beaches, backed by thick jungle, with scarlet macaws flying overhead and spider monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys and howler monkeys rampaging through the trees.

We lived only four hours away from the Osa Peninsula but still the journey there is an adventure in itself.

“Traveling two hours by boat, you will pass through the wild Mangrove Forest of the Sierpe River, and then along the stunning Pacific Coast until you reach this tropical paradise.”
Poor Man’s Paradise

Sounds pleasant doesn’t it? But think again.

The journey boat trip start in Sierpe with a calm cruise down the Sierpe River to the river mouth which is where it starts to get scary.

The passage out of the river into the open sea is notoriously dangerous with big waves, strong currents and no lifeguards to hand if anything goes wrong.

There I was travelling with the Mucho Man, our three kids aged 4, 7 and 10, and my mum aged over 70 having been told by many friends that they wouldn’t risk the boat trip to the Osa Peninsula because it’s too dangerous.

My travel companions osa peninsula costa rica

My travel companions aged three to 70 years old

That scared me but I really want to see the Osa Peninsula so we booked a trip, drove to Sierpe and got in the boat.

We all wore lifejackets but still I wondered what I do if the boat capsised or sank. Who would I save? Would I even be able to save myself?

The boat seemed seaworthy, and our captain was experienced so off we cruised and made it through the river mouth into the open sea with no problems. But the worst was yet to come.

We were staying at Poor Man’s Paradise. It’s rustic family owned lodgings with three meals a day included in the price.

Poor Man's Paradise, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Poor Man's Paradise on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica is a short boat ride from Corcovado National Park

They had organised boat transport for us which was also included in the price with a two night stay but there is no dock at Poor Man’s Paradise, just a beach which drops steeply away to the sea.

So when our boat got close to the beach, instead of slowing down, the captain revved the engines and the air filled with the smell of diesel as we speeded up.

I had no idea what the captain was doing. I thought were going to crash straight into the beach, but magically the boat slid of the water and a short way up the beach before coming to halt without crashing into the jungle.

I squealed the whole time though.

During our stay at Poor Man’s Paradise we went on a fanstastic guided jungle hike, let the waves crash us up and down on the beach and saw a plethora of flora and fauna including the endangered tapir pictured here.

tapir in the osa peninsula, costa rica

Tapir heaven is taking a siesta in a muddy pool

Described by Wikipedia as:

“a large browsing mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile snout”, tapirs are actually related to rhinoceros.

I’m so glad I overcame that fear and faced an even greater unknown fear to visit the Osa Peninsula.

Here’s a video of someone else making their beach landing at Poor Man’s Paradise. I can’t hear them squealing but maybe they’d done it before.

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Leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you. Have you ever braved a scary journey to get somewhere special?

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  1. Seana Smith May 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    That’s a very COOL arrival by boat… glad you didn’t lose any children over the side.

    I just adore that photo of the tapir, it’s an animal we just never hear enough about, so weird looking and living such a very muckily delightful life.

    • Annabel Candy May 16, 2012 at 3:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Seana,

      Gosh, now you come to mention it if I had wanted to get rid of any family members that would have been the perfect opportunity:)

      Well worth it all to see the tapir, even if I’d never heard of one before I went to Costa Rica!

  2. Brock - Backpack With Brock May 17, 2012 at 8:31 am - Reply

    What a cool experience! I’m glad you and your family came out alright.

    • Annabel Candy May 17, 2012 at 8:47 am - Reply

      Hi Brock,

      Thank you! I have sunk in a boat before off the coast of Kenya! Glad we didn’t have any kids with us then:)

  3. Kimbundance May 19, 2012 at 7:28 am - Reply

    Oh, these are very awesome and inspiring! Thank you for sharing, this special post. What other spots have you traveled to that are your top 3 favorites in the world?

    • Annabel Candy May 21, 2012 at 11:03 am - Reply

      Hi Kim,

      Oh that is too hard! But just for you I’ll say Costa Rica, Kenya and Thailand:)

  4. Johanna August 2, 2012 at 11:23 am - Reply

    Great story, and what an experience! Loved your telling of it.
    We did a similar trip in The Philippines on a small boat with my Mum, also over 70 (couldn’t swim) and it was very scary, but nothing that a few cocktails on a tropical beach couldn’t fix afterwards!

  5. Charli | Wanderlusters June 16, 2013 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    This looks like quite an adventure! We lived in Costa Rica for 6 months during 2011 and I longed to visit the Osa Peninsula but unfortunately we ran out of time. We’re hoping to return one day. I fell in love with the lush environment and the relaxed Pura Vida lifestyle!

  6. Ben Watson February 18, 2014 at 5:11 am - Reply

    Wow, talk about an entrance :) Great shot of the tapir! Where did you stay & for how long?

    We just wrote a post on our experience in the Osa Peninsula with step by step directions on how to get to Osa from San Jose and what to do once you get there.

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