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Home | Destinations | South Puntarenas | Osa Peninsula & Drake Bay | Matapalo, South Puntarenas

Matapalo, South Puntarenas

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Driftwood at Matapalo Beach

Matapalo is a small, laid-back beach town located at the tip of the Osa Peninsula in the southern portion of Puntarenas, filled with small cabinas and bungalows that prompts guests to enjoy an all-encompassing experience with nature. This community is dedicated to eco-friendly habits, and the majority of lodges here depend on solar energy. Matapalo has actually earned the Blue Ecological Flag for its dedication to conservation and preserving the surrounding environment - it's the perfect place to visit without leaving a carbon footprint behind.

The Lodges

Lapa Rios, one of the model eco-friendly resorts, sits along 1,000 acres of lush forest next to Corcovado National Park. It has been awarded with the highest sustainable tourism certification. This lodge is a great option for those who want to get a hands on experience with the local culture, as well as the natural amenities of the region. This lodge serves locally harvested food, and features locally made bamboo furniture.

Another popular local eco lodge is Ojo del Mar, which offers its guests a secluded retreat within the rainforest of Matapalo. This wellness retreat includes yoga classes, homemade and local foods and an on-site library. This small resort is an "off-the-grid" locale that embraces its surrounding nature.

The Beaches

Experienced surfers may want to make a trip to Playa Pan Dulce where world-class surf breaks are a regular feature. However, surfers must be aware of the dangerous rocks lining the bottom of the water. Backwash sits next to Pan Dulce, and features a slow right at low tide that breaks over a reef in the middle of the bay. Travelers looking for a place to swim may want to travel to Playa Carbonera, known for its little pools formed during low tide. Matapalo beach is one of the most secluded shorelines in the entire country, and is the southernmost of all the beaches here. This quiet shoreline is a perfect location for anyone looking to escape dense tourism.

Surfing at Matapalo

This world-class setting has three excellent point breaks that surfers love, especially the locals. Matapalo is at the very tip of the Osa Peninsula, so extreme water sports enthusiasts will love this beach. Although the breaks at Matapalo are known to be fairly inconsistent, because the beach faces the ocean, they are still quite large. The best conditions are at mid tide with a west/southwest swell. During ideal conditions at Pan Dulce, a large swell from the south at mid tide, it's not uncommon to find up to 500-yard tube rides with several fast sections. At Backwash, the surf is best for longboarding as the steep beach lends to some steep sections. The best conditions here are from mid- to low-tide with a south/southwest swell. This beach is a little finicky, but when it's in its prime, it's one of the best spots in the region.

Enjoy the Activities Here

Since there aren't a lot of travelers who visit Matapalo, the beaches are pristine and the water is perfect for swimming. Other aquatic activities like diving are available here, as well as horseback riding down the brown-sand shoreline that stretches about two kilometers. Fishermen may want to make a trip to the Portalon River, a great spot to cast a line. Looking for a bit more adventure? Tree climbing, waterfall rappelling and hiking are also popular, and Matapalo is considered to be one of the best surfing spots in Costa Rica.

King Louis Waterfall

Towering nearly 100 feet high into the air, the stunning King Louis Waterfall is one of Matapalo's natural centerpieces. Hiking to this attraction allows for an intimate one-on-one experience with the area's wildlife. Tree climbing and waterfall rappelling are very popular in at King Louis.

Getting to Matapalo

From San Jose, the drive will take about six to seven hours. On the route to Matapalo, there are several toll booths, so it will be helpful to have about 2,000 colones in cash on hand. The town of Matapalo is about 20 kilometers south of Puerto Jimenez on highway to Carate, which will take roughly 45 minutes. After passing the Buena Esperanza, drivers will go about one kilometer further to the turnoff to Matapalo. There are a few rough roads in this area, so access to a four-wheel-drive vehicle will make the trek a bit easier. It is not recommended to make this drive during the night due to the poor roads, and it can also get troublesome during the rainy season.

A place to let your hair down

Matapalo is a great place to lay back, crack open a book and let worries float away in the wind. There are few options for dining and entertainment, but there's no need to find recreation anywhere but outdoors, anyway. The weather is almost always warm and humid, so almost anytime you plan on traveling here will be ideal for a beachside adventure.
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