When should you book for Costa Rica? The short answer is: as soon as possible. But let’s get into the more detailed reasoning. When you are booking your dream vacation in Costa Rica, you should understand that there are approximately 1.7 million tourists that visit the country each year. The vast majority of those, visit from December to March. That’s about 35% of the entire population of the country. Yes, it’s fair to say that Costa Rica has a thriving tourism industry.
Here in Drake Bay, we see less than 2% of that number. Nevertheless, our most popular attractions: Corcovado National Park and Cano Island, are administered by the government ministry of environment (MINAE). And due to strict environmental regulations, there are a limited number of people that can visit each day. You must have a pre-reserved pass, and you must have a local guide.
At GringoCurt.com, we support these regulations, as we do not want to see these spectacular ecosystems being overwhelmed by tourists. See Manual Antonio for an example of this.
However, we want all nature lovers to have the opportunity to visit these amazing places. So, for travelers who are planning to visit Drake Bay or the Osa Peninsula in general, we recommend booking for high season as early as possible so you don’t miss out.
For both Corcovado and Cano Island, it is possible to confirm your spot 3 months in advance. And the best guides can be booked out up to 4 months out. Thus, we recommend booking these activities in September, October or November, to have the best opportunities for December-March.
Other trips that you should consider booking far in advance are Whale and Dolphin adventures and Fishing Charters. In Drake Bay, there are very limited boat captains and guides that have true experience with these trips. In fact, there are only 2 operations that we trust for either of these things. They have decades of experience in the region, and can provide truly unforgettable adventures. They have both taken out National Geographic and the BBC. It’s not something you can just book one day in advance in December!
As far as accommodation in Drake Bay, the high season can also present problems for last minute travelers. Although there are a wide variety of hotels, cabinas, B&B’s and hostels in the region, most establishments are small. There are no high-rise Hiltons in sight. Personally, we love this. But it does mean you have to be a bit more organized than you might ordinarily be when it comes to booking accommodation. 2-3 months before December, January or February is a decent estimate. Especially if you have specific requirements: such as proximity to the main village, air conditioning and/or hot water showers.
So, how do you book?
For Corcovado and Cano Island, it is technically possible to reserve your passes without the aid of a travel agent. However, you will need either a Costa Rican bank account, or the ability to visit a Banco Nacional Costa Rica in person, several months in advance. It’s not a pleasant process. And you will have to hire a guide and book transportation separately. The easiest thing to do is contact us, your hotel, or other travel agent in Costa Rica and have everything organized for you. Because we are located in Drake Bay, GringoCurt.com can deal with transfers, food, passes, local guide, equipment, and any other personal requirements.
For accommodation and other activities, you can also use a travel agent or local hotel. In our opinion, the only way to ensure you receive the best option for you is to speak to someone who lives in the area. Travel books go out of date very quickly for this region. And even people in San Jose have limited practical knowledge of the Osa Peninsula. We strive to keep our Find a Hotel page completely up to date, so you can choose your accommodation based on TripAvisor reviews, location, and facilities. You can also take a look at AirBnB, which is becoming increasingly popular in our area.
You can find some convenient links in this post that will make booking your dream adventure to Costa Rica much more pleasant.
Our website is designed so that you can do all the research yourself and book everything independently. Or, you can contact us and we can put everything together for you. If you want to really relax into things, you can even book a complete adventure package that includes accommodation, transfers to and from Drake Bay, and all of your tours and activities.
The bottom line is, that high season (December-March) can fill up quickly. We don’t want anyone to miss out on experiencing the incredible place that we call home.