Puerto Jimenez – Osa Peninsula – Costa Rica

Puerto Jimenez Billboards

When entering Puerto Jimenez, one sees mini billboards advertising services for backpackers and eco-gurus

The first time I went to Puerto Jimenez was back in the mid 1970, and it took us about three days traveling on very pot-hole ridden, one-lane dirt road. And thinking back, I think we were heading to Panama or Golfito, made a right instead of going straight at Chacarita,  and ended in this very remote town. About the only Gringos we saw were surfers who were headed to Cabo Matapalo, a small town that was becoming known for its awesome surf break. At the time it become most famous for its gold mining and logging in the 1960s. Even today, some try their luck at gold mining and these wood mills are still seen on the way.

Named in honor of Costa Rican three-time elected President Ricardo Jiménez, Puerto Jimenez has grown to become the largest town on the Osa Peninsula that’s located in the southern part of the Puntarenas province and the threshold of Corcovado National Park.

The town itself is not much; a couple of gravel streets that surround a soccer field, a block of general stores, few inexpensive but mostly expensive restaurant/bars, waterfront boardwalk, water taxi service to Golfito, funeral home, a butcher shop, a airport, and a lot of tourist trap gift shops; squawking Scarlet Macaws fly overhead constantly and monkeys do high-tail it crossing roads.

Video – Driving to Puerto Jiménez

It is very evident when entering town when one sees mini billboards advertising services for backpackers and eco-gurus.

Puerto Jimenez Waterfront Restaurant

Puerto Jimenez Waterfront Restaurant and Bar

Regardless of its eco-fame, the town still has managed to maintain that traditional and culture Costa Rican feel as its Golfo Dulce neighbor, Golfito. And despite its small size and lay backed pace, Puerto Jiménez is a bustling little burg, where rough jungle gold-panners mix with wealthy ecotourists, budget backpackers, and a pinch of celebrities seeking a small dose of anonymity and escape at the well-known all exclusive Crocodile Hotel.

Puerto Jimenez Water Taxi to Golfito

Puerto Jimenez Water Taxi to Golfito

With it being undeniably convenient as the last stop to Corcovado National Park, it has adapted very well to the high concentration of passing tourists and with that said, taken advantage of the eco-tourist-bucks. Even 2-4 years ago, for a few dollars one could have lodging for the night and for less than a dollar, one could get a meal of beans/rice and a huge slab of Dorado. But that has changed with eco-tourism, the prices have affected it and in some places the Gringo prices hit hard. Places like the local Mexican “Sports Bar” restaurant a meal of tacos, beans and rice demand $8-$12USD for so so Mexican food. Want fresh fish – expect to pay over $12USD. At the local Italian restaurant (which is very good) expect a hit into the pocketbook.

About the only place in town that seems to be reasonable is the smoke-free Super Mercado at the edge of town.

Sport fishing charters have opened up everywhere, and for those that want a TON of recreation, and to be more adventurous, hiking, rappelling, mountain biking and kayaking tours are on hand. If you prefer a more tranquil relaxed holiday, just about every corner has dolphin watching tours of the lovely Golfo Dulce and the Pacific. Personally, the place is a photographer’s dream with amazing sunrises in all of Costa Rica.

Puerto Jimenez Local FishIf you are interested in partying one has to be a bit careful, as by night Puerto Jimenez tends to get a bit rowdy with the local bars that only cater to the locals. For a tourist, your best bet is to keep to the tourist places that run along the waterfront.

One of the coolest things about Jiménez is the beautiful Scarlet Macaws that fly in huge groups of 50-100 and it is common for them to nest in some tree overhead. If you know monkeys, you can spot up to four different species. When staying at the Cabinas Jimenez and each morning having my coffee while checking emails my company was couple of spider monkeys, brightly colored birds, and predatory looking lizards.

You can get to Puerto Jimenez either by bus or car. However, be prepared, on a good day, it can be as long as a 10-hour drive from San Jose. Fastest way is to fly out of San Jose International Airport on either Natural Air or Sansa Regional Airlines

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  1. I have made the drive several times to Puerto Jimenez from San Jose, and it has takes me 7 hours at most and is one of the most beautiful drives in Costa Rica. Besides that, good read. I would encourage travelers to visit some of the towns off of the beaten down tourist paths.

  2. Interesting and largely accurate depiction of Jimenez. I have slightly different observations after a quarter century of coming here and continuous residence during the past eleven years, on a few points that seem relevant. Puerto Jimenez has ALWAYS been expensive, and the prices that the author mentions of a “few years ago” do not match my recall. A basic cabina has been $10 per person for this whole decade. In fact, with the new road, transport is less cumbersome a cost of basic commodities and prices have fallen relative to a few years ago. Also, it takes six hours to drive from San Jose, not “up to ten” except when roads are washed out or something of that nature. And that drive is across some of the most spectacular mountains anywhere. I travel quite a bit in the southern zone towns and find that all restaurants that cater to tourism are expensive, and it seems unfair to single out Puerto Jimenez as expensive when from my experience, the restaurant meals there (except for Il Giardino, the Italian restaurant mentioned) are either in line with or less costly than comparable restaurants in Uvita, Dominical, Quepos, Jaco, Manuel Antonio, etc. While we are on Il Giardino, it is fair to say that not only are the prices very high but the portions are tiny, so prepare to come away hungry after laying out $25 per person. Also, travelers may want to travel across the gulf by fast boat. Formerly we had only the lumbering slow boat that made one round trip per day. Now we have speedboats that make the passage several times a day between golfito and Jimenez for modest prices. One final correction, the author is almost certainly in error about seeing spider monkeys in town. The spider monkey is a deep forest monkey and unlike the white faced capuchin does not stray into town. But the capucins do, following the stream down from the mountains for town fruit, and from the edges of town you can hear the howlers before dawn back in the woods that rise toward Corcovado. Otherwise known as the Cradle of Western Civilization, Puerto Jimenez welcomes all comers, even those adventurous enough to stray away from “waterfront watering holes” at night and into the realm of the local-catering drinking establishments for a real journey into the heart of darkness.

    • admin says:

      We love adding to posts with comments like this. There is always a another opinion, experience and facts to share – thats what blogs are all about, sharing information. Obviously I was wrong on the monkey and stand to be corrected, and as far as expensive, I should have added, Jimenez has caught up in prices with other tourist areas. I will add, when eating at Il Giardino, we had a great meal whose portions were huge.


      But in fairness, and considering I (Tico Times) was eating with the manager and webmaster/SEO of Crocodile Bay and the owner of numerous CR businesses including Costa Rica Fishing – no doubt we got the Rolls Royce treatment.

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