Costa Rica Expat City Guide

Southern Pacific, Costa Rica


The Southern Pacific (Dominical to Osa Peninsula and beyond) is located on the southwestern coast of the country and the bottom of the Puntarenas Province. The region was dubbed by Lonely Planet the “most adventurous corner of Costa Rica”, and National Geographic has called it “the most biologically intense place on earth.”  With these monakers as a starting point, let’s dive into this incredible location.

To many, the South Pacific is primarily the Osa Peninsula and further south.  The areas to the north of the region (Dominical, Uvita) are sometimes classified as Central Pacific, and for others the South.  We are classifying it as the south as they share many of the unique traits that make this region special. The The region is bounded to the northwest by Drake Bay, to the west by the Pacific Ocean, and to the east by the Golfo Dulce – one of the only tropical fjords in the world.  The Osa Peninsula was once an island which connected to the mainland via geologic uplift millions of years ago – combining the ecosystems that had developed both on the island and the mainland.  The area’s combination of rich volcanic soils, high humidity, ample rain and winds combine to make one of the world’s most biodivere regions.  A substantial amount of of the peninsula is protected lands, part of the Osa Conservation Area.  This means that the incredible biodiversity can thrive.  No wonder this protection was given as the region is home to more than half of all species in Costa Rica and 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity.

Because of its remote location and thick rainforests, the Southern region is still mostly uninhabited.  This spot is unique because it is one of the only places on the globe that both the Northern and  Southern Humpback whales come to calf.  The region also has one of the largest wetlands ecosystems in Central America.  It has the largest scarlet macaw population in Central America.  As well as 700+ species of trees, nearly 470 species of birds, and almost 150 species of land and sea mammals.

Important National Parks include Corcovado National Park, which comprises the largest lowland rainforest on the American coastline. It is also one of the most biologically diverse places on earth.  Also off Drake Bay is Caño Island Biological Reserve, a popular dive spot that was a cemetery in pre-Columbian times.  It still houses some of the unusual pre-Columbian stone spheres.  Although the most famous of the stone sphere sites is not on the island but rather at Sitio Arqueológico Finca 6, which lies between Sierpe and the Costanera Sur and is a Unesco World Heritage site.

Southern Pacific Climate

The Southern Pacific and Osa Peninsula are classified as Tropical Rainforest, with lush flora that remains green year-round. This region is hot, humid and has a shorter summer (dry) season (January to April) with a longer and wetter winter (rainy) season (May to December). This very mountainous region sees vast swings of temperature depending on your altitude.

In the region, daytime temperatures range  from 30 °C (87 °F) in November to 34 °C (93 °F) or higher in March.  And nighttime temperatures from 20°C (68°F) in January to 22°C (72°F) in April.

Popular Expat Communities

In this remote region, life is very laid back and for many rustic, and the international community is small and tightly knit.  Communities in this area of the country are not as populated as towns further up the Pacific coast (northern Puntarenas or Guanacaste)  However as towns and villages to the North continue to grow, more construction is found across the region, and larger communities of high-end homes (primarily vacation properties) have been growing in the northern areas of the region around Domincal and Uvita.  Communities include:

  • Ballena
  • Cabo Matapalo
  • Carate
  • Ciudad Cortés
  • Dominical
  • Matapalo
  • Ojochal
  • Palmar
  • Potrero
  • Puerto Jiménez
  • Rancho Quemado
  • Rincon
  • Sábalo
  • Uvita

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