On December 18, 2018, Nick Halverson, owner of Osa Property Management, sat down with Perez Zeledon’s City Council President Hanz Cruz, to discuss the potential Perez Zeledon International Airport. This has been something Perez Zeledon has been working hard on for over four years, and the preliminary work is coming to completion.
The embedded video of the conversation is approximately twelve minutes long and includes other planned projects that will enhance living in the Osa region, especially Playa Hermosa, Uvita, Ojochal, San Buenas and Chontales. Perez Zeledon’s City Council is also planning on working with the Osa Municipality in a joint project to pave the road connecting Uvita and San Isidro. This would cut down the travel time traveling between those two towns by over 50%. Along with the construction of the planned Perez Zeledon International Airport, the entire Osa and San Isidro region will grow.
As many people know, there have been rumors for years about an international airport in the southern zone of Costa Rica, however, that plan is “dead”. It is no longer being pursued for a variety of reasons. Read my blog post from a couple of years ago about why I believe the southern zone airport is a ‘no-go’ and why the Perez Zeledon International Airport is currently the best possible option for the region.
Hanz Cruz also has heard unconfirmed rumors that the Orotina airport project is currently stalled or stopped all together. However, those are just rumors. If you know anything more about the Orotina airport project, please comment below or privately submit what you have heard. We appreciate keeping everyone up-to-date with accurate information.
As with any major infrastructure change there will be those in favor of it and those against it. However, for the thousands of business owners, local Costa Rican’s and ex-pats, who spend hours traveling to and from the area, a new Perez Zeledon International airport will be a wonderful resource.
This is the latest update about the Palmar Sur Airport May 2019, recorded recently from the airport. The video below includes photos and videos of the current status of the airport, along with Abigail Vargas holding one of the LED lights that will be installed on the runway.
We are cautiously optimistic that the new deadline will be reached. A lot of work still needs to be completed, but with a large and skilled crew it is feasible. We were told that the following still needs to be completed:
Ceiling fan installation: We were told they have been purchased and are in storage.
Installation of seats and benches. Again, we were told they have been purchased. Based on earlier conversations, the seats will have USB charging ports.
Finishing of details. As one can see in the video, workers are still hand-sanding the downspouts for quality control.
Final installation of landing lights. We were told most of those have been installed and are operational but it is not 100% completed yet.
It is unclear if the electrical and data system has been completely installed.
Revised Deadline for Completion
We will continue to monitor the progress of the Palmar Sur Airport May and June 2019 updates. As the video stated, the new target deadline for completion is July 1, 2019. We are hopeful that the July 1 deadline will be met. When this happens it will be great news to start having daily flights to and from San Jose again.
If you would like information about vacationing in the Osa region of Costa Rica, please fill out the form below. We typically respond within 24 hours. You may also send us a text or WhatsApp message to +16128198154 or +50671001006. Palmar Sur is a great location for those looking to visit Sierpe, Chontales, San Buenas, Ojochal or Uvita. Palmar Sur is located across the Terraba River from Palmar Norte.
Photos Palmar Sur Airport
Below are some photos from Palmar Sur Airport May 2019.
Costa Rica has many exhilarating adventure options for the adrenaline junkie in your group. However, recently a good friend of ours sent us this video of him taking a group kayaking in Tarcoles River. He shot this video several years ago and wanted others to see it.
The Tarcoles River is an extremely popular destination for tourists to Costa Rica. It is located just north of Jaco, approximately one hour from Juan Santamaria international airport. The reason Tarcoles is popular is because of the crocodiles that live in the Tarcoles River. The video below takes it to an extreme level of crocodile observation.
This is one adventure we do NOT recommend doing – even our friend no longer kayaks in this area of the Tarcoles River. However, we felt it worth sharing so visitors to our website can see how big the crocodiles can get in the Tarcoles River.
If you group doesn’t have any small children in it, we do recommend observing the crocodiles from a distance on the Tarcoles River Bridge. Observing from the bridge has its own potential hazards including speeding traffic and narrow sidewalks with no official observation deck. Look at this video for visiting Tarcoles.
Osa Property Management has plenty of other custom tours we can offer guests. Additionally, we can schedule established tours and adventures for you and your group, while visiting Costa Rica. Contact us for our recommended tours – don’t worry, kayaking in Tarcoles River is not one of them.
On the morning of Saturday, December 15, 2018, I awoke to the distant sound of heavy machinery operating somewhere in the San Buenas area of Osa, Puntarenas, Costa Rica (“san buena, costa rica” in Google Maps). This isn’t completely unusual right now given that the November storms caused quite a bit of damage in the area, and developments and homeowners have been slowly repairing their property now that the heavy rains are all but gone. However, around 11 am I headed towards the San Buenas Pulparia (convenience store) to pick up some more coffee and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the sound of the heavy machinery was from the Osa Municipality who had begun improving Main Street. Given all the rumors that I’ve heard throughout the years, the San Buenas Road Paving project is something that I thought would never be done – at least not this “soon”
I spoke with a couple of administrators from the Osa Municipality on Monday, 17 December, to ask them about the timeline of the San Buenas Road Paving. According to these administrators, the current plan is for the municipality to begin paving the road in February 2018 (exact date unknown, although we will keep everyone updated once the project starts) and they will pave one kilometer of the road. One kilometer in San Buenas will mean that the road is paved to the public elementary school and the local Catholic Church.
I asked them about the possibility of having Las Villas de San Buenas work with the local community to pave even more of the road, and to share the costs, and they suggested I work with the newly formed community road board. I had already spoken with the President of that board the day before, so I will continue to see what can be done to pave even more.
Regardless of the outcome of the additional meters of pavement, it will be wonderful to have SOME pavement in San Buenas.
There have been fewer rumored infrastructure projects discussed in the Bahia Ballena/Osa region than whether or not there will be a Dominical paved road or if it will stay as gravel. As one can see, the rumors are finally becoming a reality. As of December 2018 there will be a Dominical Paved Road running from the Costanera Highway (Highway 34) down 50 meters into Dominical (past Delicias), turning left (south) at the first intersection, at the only stop sign in town, and then going all the way through Dominical until the ICE tower.
Additionally, the Dominical Paved Road will head north from the stop sign for several hundred meters also.
Dominical Paved Road Spanish
Below is Abigail Vargas explaining the Dominical paved road in Spanish.
Throughout Dominical (both north and south of the stop sign), large, new drainage systems have been built or are in the final stages of completion. All told, this is a very large infrastructural project that is being completed by the Osa Municipality to improve the customer experience of visiting Dominical.
The Dominical Paved Road is not without its opponents, however. There is a group of long-term resident ex-pats who prefer to keep the ruggedness of Dominical and consider the dusty, bumpy, road as Dominical’s “charm”. I used to work for a company based in Dominical’s main street and I can attest that breathing in the dust all day, fighting for precious parking spots on the narrow and undefined road and watching vehicles and buses come dangerously close to hitting pedestrians, will not be missed by many.
As many people know, Dominical is home to some of the world’s best surfing, has a great funky and energetic vibe and is a beautiful place to watch the sunset. Due to these amazing benefits, making the road safer for travelers, visitors and the people who work in Dominical, the Dominical paved road will be greatly appreciated.
My first trip to Costa Rica was in March 2005. During that initial trip, the local real estate agent told me about the “New international airport that will be built soon.” Here we are twelve years later and still not another international airport.
In my agent’s defense, there had been government publicity, an article in The Tico Times, with a map, about the airport and he was simply repeating what he had read. Again, in 2007, then-Costa Rica President Oscar Arias held a public relations event whereby he signed a decree to move forward with an international airport in Osa.
President Oscar Arias initiating the feasibilty studies for airport (Palmar Norte, 2008)
In the past 18 months there has been a lot of talk about a new international airport to be built in Orotina. From contacts I have, as recently as six months, after the formal announcement had been made, no wind studies or environmental studies had been conducted. I find it hard to believe that the Orotina airport is as much of a ‘slam-dunk’ as is being reported. The latest news is that we will all know more by the end of 2017. Below is an artist rendering of the Orotina airport.
Will the Southern Zone International Airport Be Built in Osa
Is the airport going to be built in Osa? I would guess no.
As much as I would love to have an international airport 30 minutes away from our development (believe me, prices would go up quickly!), based on what happened the past 10 years from Oscar Arias announcing it, until now = very little of anything has happened. Osa currently doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to handle a project that large. I could argue it is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. The large hotel chains haven’t built here yet because there isn’t a reason to without an international airport. The feasibility studies would show that the region isn’t equipped to handle an international airport since there aren’t any large hotels in the area. It’s a circular argument.
In addition, after the signing of the document [airport decree] by Arias, the people of Costa Rica voted on Costa Rica’s participation in CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement) or TLC as it was known in Costa Rica. The Osa region voted against the measure, and it has been speculated that in retaliation for not supporting him, President Arias pulled the project out of Osa. By contrast, Limon on the Caribbean side, voted “Si” (yes) for the TLC, and soon after the vote, the Limon Port expansion was announced (Limon Moin Container project).
Regardless of the real reason why the airport was never started in Osa is still up for debate today. I have spoken with Osa Mayor several times, and he is continuing to try and push the project forward. However, he understands the difficulty of getting the politicians in San Jose, four hours away, to listen.(Central America Free Trade Agreement) or TLC as it was known in Costa Rica. The Osa region voted against the measure, and it has been speculated that in retaliation for not supporting him, President Arias pulled the project out of Osa. By contrast, Limon on the Caribbean side, voted “Si” (yes) for the TLC, and soon after the vote, the Limon Port expansion was announced (Limon Moin Container project).
Perez Zeledon International Airport
Another option that has quickly, and quietly, been worked on is to build a new airport in the San Isidro de el General, Perez Zeledon. Although not technically in Osa, it would be a great advantage for owners in Las Villas de San Buenas. The reason why this would be great for Las Villas de San Buenas is that currently San Isidro is only 75 minutes away. I have it confirmed by several sources, that the Osa municipality and the municipality of San Isidro are in late planning stages for improving and paving the road from the southern area of San Isidro that leads into Uvita. When this road project is completed, the trip to San Isidro will be cut down to approximately 45 minutes.
San Isidro (Aeropuerto PZ) has numerous advantages over Osa for the airport. Several include:
Large population base (~150,000 people) that may use the airport for outbound flights.
With the large population base, there are dozens of hotels already available.
A very entrepreneurial region of Costa Rica. There are 1,000s of business owners in the region who support commerce and trade.
By building the airport in San Isidro, the Osa region would still benefit due to the Pan American Highway that is already in place connected Palmar Norte to San Isidro (by way of Buenos Aires).
Plenty of flat land is available.
The project is not just an airport. The local government is planning on a multi-faceted development plan, including tax incentives for business to move there and other project tied to the airport.
Here’s a video that shows the concepts for the Perez Zeledon international airport:
Regardless of which location is chosen, it will be a benefit to us here in the Osa region. I can’t guarantee when or where exactly, although I would estimate that the timelines are at least five years away. The one thing I can guarantee, is depending on where the location is chosen, land prices will go up quickly or VERY quickly.
UPDATE December 2018
My thoughts have not changed regarding the feasibility of a southern zone international airport – I don’t believe it will be built in Osa…I don’t believe it will be built in the province of Puntarenas. At this point, based on conversations I’ve had with administrators and politicians, the best bet is still Perez Zeledon.
San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International airport continues to expand – as of last week they have signage for 20 gates, although only 15 are open and operating. One can see the work that is being done right now to expand it to 20. The new domestic airport terminal has been completed next door to Juan Santamaria, solidifying at least some flights will continue to be flown out of the current airport location.
What are your thoughts on the southern zone international airport? What have you heard? At this point everything is just rumors. Send me your thoughts below or directly to me at email@example.com
Recently we made several visits over the course of a week to Palmar Sur in order to provide a Palmar Sur airport update. The remodeling project began in August 2018 and involves many wonderful upgrades and updates from the previous airport terminal. The goal for the construction crew, based on several interviews with the Project Manager of the project, is to have the construction phase of the airport completed by December 30, 2018. Watch the video below or watch it on YouTube here.
We are doubtful that all of the work will be done by the end of the calendar year 2018. As of December 1, 2018, the following work still needs to be completed – and this is only a list of what we know about and can make assumptions about:
Half the runway and the area near the terminal needs to be paved with more asphalt.
Roof needs to be put on (we were told this won’t take very long given the design and materials being used for the roof)
Internal walls are still being built
Skim-coating of 90% of the walls
Installation of CAT5 lines, telephony hardware, electrical lines and plug-ins
Finishing work – which would take at least a week on this type of building
Installation of the custom made benches we were told about (with power plug-ins)
Perimeter fence needs to be moved to the property boundary
Federal inspections by engineers and outside project evaluators
With everything that needs to be completed before opening, along with the Christmas/Holiday season just a couple of weeks away, we don’t expect it to be ready anytime before February 1, 2019…at best.
In the short-run, this is definitely an inconvenience, and it is a bit frustrating that they didn’t start the construction in May 2018, instead of August. Had they started the work in May, that would have left sufficient time to complete the remodel in time for the high season which is now starting (December 2018).
In the long-run, this is a wonderful upgrade and we will all soon forget the temporary inconvenience this closure has caused. Let us know your thoughts about the Palmar Sur Airport Update.
Also, if you are planning a trip to the Osa/Southern Pacific region of Costa Rica in 2019, or later, be sure to submit a form below to let us know and to let us help you with your trip planning. Additionally, if you are a home or lot owner in the region, contact us for a no-obligation bid on our property management services.
Costa Rica, and in particular the Bahia Ballena region, has many beautiful waterfalls. In fact, although there are several well known waterfalls within a short drive or walk from where we live, we are now just beginning to go explore them. Recently we were invited by Abigail Vargas, of Osa Property Management, to go and visit the Uvita Waterfall. Neither Lisa nor I knew where exactly this waterfall was, but when I asked Abigail what the official name of the waterfall was she said,”Uvita Waterfall. Everyone simply calls it that.” Ok! Let’s go to the Uvita Waterfall! I’ve only seen one other waterfall in-person in my life, so I’m hardly an expert, but the sound, the power and the majestic beauty of them is amazing.
Based on Abigail’s recommendation, arriving earlier in the day is advised due to the smaller crowds, so we met at 9 am in the parking lot. By “we” I mean myself, Lisa, our amazing Springer Spaniel ‘Whiskey’, Abigail and Abigail’s four year-old son. We paid our admission fee of 1,000 colones ($1.70) per adult and kids are free (Whiskey was also free) and started walking to the waterfall. We followed the cut-out path through the jungle for a couple of minutes, and with each step the roar of the Uvita Waterfall got louder, before arriving. Luckily for us, when we arrived, there was only one other couple there.
Activities at Uvita Waterfall
This is the height of the rainy season so most creeks and waterfalls are flowing to capacity and are dangerous to swim in. However, although Uvita Waterfall was flowing powerfully, the pool below was calm and enjoyable to swim in. Lisa brought her GoPro video camera to capture some of our fun during the day (check out video below or click here).
Whiskey ran and enjoyed the cool water.
Abigail was a bit more daring than Lisa and I were…Abigail swam in the natural pool below the falls and jumped off a ledge about three feet over the water. There were other people (the Columbian’s) who even climbed higher up the rocks to jump into the water. When I was a younger man I would have definitely climbed up some rocks and jumped in.
Meeting New People
As the day drew on Uvita Waterfall became a melting pot of people including locals, Columbians and Germans. This is very typical of the Bahia Ballena region of Costa Rica – a healthy and fun mix of locals and ex-pats enjoying each other’s company. Not knowing Spanish had zero impact on our day and the few times I wanted to say something, and the facial expressions and exaggerated arm gestures didn’t work, Abigail translated for us. Having Whiskey (the dog…) with us helped break the ice too, as everyone loves a friendly and happy dog running through and splashing in the water. We were all eager to meet each other and learn from each other. This just does not happen in the United States too often.
By the way, the pictures don’t to the waterfall justice. The roar of the water and surprisingly, the entire day was bug free.
So if you get the chance, talk to Abigail from Osa Property Management or look us up in San Buenas. We would be more than happy to show you Uvita Waterfall (really, that’s the official name) and other amazing places nearby!! Pura vida!!
Sometimes, especially during the holidays, I miss my traditional food from back home. Thanksgiving is no exception – well, perhaps, especially Thanksgiving since catching up with loved ones around a large meal is what Thanksgiving has meant to me for years. This year was our first Thanksgiving Costa Rica Style.
Living here in the southern zone of Costa Rica was our choice. As we’ve mentioned before, we like the cost of living, more socializing with the Ticos than other areas, and the slower pace of life is what drew us here to San Buenas, between Chontales and Ojochal. That being said,,,,trying to find traditional style Thanksgiving day food is almost impossible!
Staple foods found back home, are not surprisingly difficult to find here in Costa Rica (flip the idea around: how many traditional Costa Rica foods does a typically grocery store carry in the USA?).
Lisa and I made our shopping list and then went out to find the ingredients for our typically Thanksgiving meal. We went shopping for cream of mushroom soup for my green bean casserole, any type of Stovetop stuffing, and a spiral sliced ham…we went 0-for-3.
We did find a Butterball Turkey at the BM in Palmar Norte. They were all huge and only one price ….19,000 colones (~US$31). The decision was easy not to spend over $30 on turkey since it was just going to be Lisa and our neighbor Derrick to eat. So we went home with our normal weekly groceries, and some of the side fixings that we could find, and decided to plan for a Thanksgiving Costa Rica style instead.
On our new list we only had one destination on it: there is a local butcher just down the road from us in a town called Coronado and we were going meat shopping! Woo-hoo! Meat shopping! For those who remember watching the TV Show Home Improvement, I let out a Tim Allen-inspired-male-grunt-of-excitement and we dashed to the SUV.
The butcher cuts the meat “made to order” and we asked for a slab of ribs. He brought out this HUGE chunk of meat from the storage locker (it had to be at least 2.5 feet long!) and asked us how much we wanted. Using my hand signals, and over-dramatic facial expressions (I’m still working on my Spanish) we got exactly the amount we wanted. Next we ordered a kilo of ground beef – that was easier to order. Finally, we ordered six pork chops, each about 1.5 inches thick, which he cut to order. The entire bill was the same as the single BM turkey: 19,000 colones.
Supporting the local families here, and getting away from the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving was a wonderful, albeit initially unplanned, idea.
We got back home to the condo we are renting, fired up the grill and got to ‘work’! Is grilling considered work? Look at how hard I’m working and how stressed out I look in the photo below.
So we should have enough food to carry us over until the end of the month, just without the turkey dressing and all of the casseroles of years past. I realize that for Costa Ricans it is just another Thursday, but with all of the turkeys and chickens running around the rural areas, I would strongly encourage them to celebrate Thanksgiving Costa Rica style with us next year. I suppose if we had lived next to a Walmart, Pricemart, or other big chain store, this blog would not exist. We count our blessings and give thanks everyday that we live where we do, and for our wonderful opportunity to live here with amazing people and amazing wildlife.
Let us know if you’d like to join us next year for a Thanksgiving Costa Rica style. We will find you a place to stay and show you around our piece of paradise here in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica.
For those who have been following our blogs, you must know by now that my Spanish is very limited. When there is anything that involves the government of Costa Rica, it pays huge dividends to do your due diligence ahead of time. That way, one will be prepared for most anything without any hiccups along the way. This is true for obtaining a Costa Rica drivers license also.
Getting back to my story, you just don’t walk in and get a drivers license like you might in the USA. In fact, there are quite a few steps along the way that are different, and dare I say, smart.
The first requirement, which needs to be done several days in advance of going to the license bureau, is to find a government approved translator whose job is to translate your current (in this case from the USA) driver’s license into Spanish. Keep in mind, although there are a lot of self-proclaimed translators that are available for most everyday help, when it comes to government documents it is necessary to use an “official” one. Contact us and we can recommend one for you, or you can do what I did, which was use social media to find one.
This means that whatever classifications you had on your state-side drivers license is the classification you would get here in Costa Rica. Since we live in the southern zone of Costa Rica in San Buenaventura, the closest office is in San Isidro de El General (or simply ‘San Isidro’ as the locals call it), located approximately 75 minutes away. We first spoke by phone and we were told what was needed.
Copy of my passport and all of the stamped pages
Copy of drivers license from the USA
Copy of my cedula (note: a cedula is the official name of proof of residency in Costa Rica)
The total fee for this service was 15,500 Costa Rica colones (or about $25). Keep in mind: This is a necessary part that cannot be skipped!
The translators did their part and it was mailed to the Cosevi (another Costa Rica government agency involved with issuing drivers licenses), who then had it waiting for us at the licensing location. With a tracking number that was provided, I just handed the clerk at the post office the slip and out came a package with my translation.
The next step was to get a physical. That’s right…before you get a Costa Rica drivers license you need to have a simple physical. What a great idea! It makes sense that people driving 1/2 ton vehicles should have a minimum level of health. The location was conveniently located across from the drivers license facility. There were several folks outside but they told me to go on in. In broken Spanish, I explained that I needed a doctor’s examination “dictamen medico”. I paid 20,000 colones (~$33) and was lead to a small adjoining room where I was examined. I had some simple, but important tests done including, vision test, reflex test, blood pressure checked, and listened to my lungs with a stethoscope. In all, it took about 10-15 minutes and after the exam, they said I was good to go.
So, I walked across the street to a guarded entrance. They wanted to see my passport, proof of medical examination, and cedula. This was all while the gate was still shut and passing items back and forth. Once let in, the usual “musical chairs” routine (a Costa Rica tradition!).
After visiting one office, was let out to go next door and pay the actual fee for the driver’s license. This fee was 8 mil because there was a motorcycle and car endorsement . Went back to the gate, showed my paid documents and was taken to another room for more questions”are you a organ donor amongst others” and this went fairly well.
Picture time!!! Check out my great photo!
Walked out with a new Costa Rica driver’s license and now legal to drive. By the way, they still get “rubber stamp” happy and stamped all kind of documents, some I got back and some they kept. The license is good for three years and there was no drivers test to take. It all very smoothly considering this ol’ Gringo’s Spanish??!!
Let me know if you want more information on how to attain your Costa Rica drivers license.
Here’s a checklist of things that you need to do to get your Costa Rica drivers license:
Copy of passport and all stamped pages
Copy of current drivers license
Copy of cedula
An official government approved translator
A physical and the subsequent document from the medical facility
Our team has decades of collective experience in protecting and managing real estate assets in the Southern Pacific region of Costa Rica, particularly in Uvita, Ojochal, Tres Rios, San Buenaventura, Palmar Norte.