We were thrilled when the airport was finally finished in mid-August 2019. In fact, two of our clients were some of the first people to use the new terminal building.
Panoramic palmar sur airport with Presidential plane in foreground
Photos from the Palmar Sur Opening. We have high-resolution, non-watermarked, photos available for media outlets that would like to use them.
We arrived approximately 45 minutes before the ‘official’ start time of the ribbon cutting ceremony. We parked across the street under a mango tree and walked into the airport. There were a handful of tourists waiting for their plane to arrive but we could see more people in the waiting area, located on the west side of the terminal. Arriving there the was approximately 50 people there. A handful were talking with the President, including Osa Mayor Alberto Cole.
Personally, I love politics so this was a great ‘work’ trip that gave me personal satisfaction as well.
Mayor Cole knows me and has been to my house several times since I also own a real estate development in San Buenaventura. However, I didn’t want to interrupt anyone so I walked up to within a meter of them, and simply took some photos and listened to what they were discussing. It was fascinating to me that it was possible to simply walk up to a President of a country without any security clearance or having to walk through any metal detectors.
Mayor Cole and President Quesada each said a few words and then the throng of people moved outside. Abigail recognized several people from the community and we both saw Dagmar from Ballena Tales there.
One of the reasons I love Costa Rica is the safety. For clear evidence of this, take a look at the airplane the President travels on during his domestic travels. For those aviation enthusiasts, I believe it is an Harbin Y-12 (hat tip to Josh Berman for the ID).
Not only is it a “simple” airplane, but also, look how close we were allowed to get to it. Although I’ve never met a sitting USA President, but I can assure you that non-security personal would not be allowed to walk up to the airplane. I was able to walk completely around the airplane and even under a wing. Had this been Air Force 1, I probably would have been arrested (at best) or shot (worse case scenario) for simply walking up to the Presidential airplane.
After approximately thirty minutes inside the airport terminal, it was time to go outside for the ceremonial ribbon cutting. A mixture of politicians, engineers and civic leaders all grabbed a piece of a long ribbon and then the President counted down and cut the ribbon. The airport was now officially open! The video below shows the cutting of the ribbon.
Osa’s Increasing Importance to Tourism
Costa Rica’s Tourism Board (ICT) has invested millions of dollars in the Osa Peninsula over the past two years. They have driven the airport upgrades in Golfito, Drake Bay, San Isidro del General (not in Osa but nearby) and now Palmar Sur. For the Costa Rica President to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony and spend a couple of hours in the area, show how important tourism is to the Costa Rica economy. It would have been very easy to send a senior government official or an ICT official, however the President wanted to show his support. This is a great sign for anyone with a home or a business in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula region.
It was a fun day to meet the sitting President of Costa Rica and to experience the event of opening the airport. I have attended several other ribbon cutting events during my time, but it was only the second time the President was there. The first time was when I attended a ribbon cutting event attended by Oscar Arias that opened up a new water system.
Let us know if you, or anyone you know, is interested in visiting the Bahia Ballena region (Uvita, Ojochal, San Buenas, Chontales), please contact us in the form below. We can line everything up for them.
For several years there have been rumors of the paving of the principal road in San Buenaventura. We are happy to report that the San Buenas Asphalt Project is underway! In fact, we produced a short two-minute video in 2018 when most people in the area believed the work would be starting.
We reviewed publicly available planning committee budgets and notes throughout 2019 and saw the funds had been earmarked for the project. However, Costa Rica has spent a tremendous amount of money recently rebuilding bridges and improving other large infrastructure projects in the area, and we weren’t sure if the San Buenas Asphalt project was going to be done in 2019 or not.
The federal government and local government have made a continued effort to improve education in Costa Rica. Not just improvement in the classrooms, but access to the classrooms. Over the past couple of years the elementary school in San Buenaventura received overnight lighting, fencing around the whole property and a new set of bathrooms. Once the schools had been improved, providing better access to schools via roads became a priority. In San Buenaventura the asphalt goes from the Costanera Highway to the edge of the property line of the school.
One reason for going past the school entrance and all the way to the edge of the property line is for health reasons. Gravel roads kick up a lot of dust and asthma is a common problem for children in Costa Rica. By putting asphalt on the roads immediately outside the school the amount of dust will be greatly decreased.
Benefit to Homeowners in the Area
We manage, and offer, quite a few homes in the San Buenaventura-Tres Rios area that will greatly benefit from the San Buenas Asphalt Project. Click on the photo of the property below to learn more about each vacation rental property option that directly benefits from the new road surface.
Villas San Buenas and San Buenas Golf/Osa Golf Course are two developments in San Buenaventura that will benefit greatly from this work. The road will be paved to within 300 meters of the boundary to Villas San Buenas and within 100 meters to the entrance of Osa Golf Course.
Osa Golf Condo
Vista al Cielo 1
Vista al Cielo 2
Below are photos from September 2, 2019.
Osa, Costa Rica, Alcalde (Mayor) Alberto Cole and the road building team
Back in December 2018 we made a video when it first appeared that the road project would be started. It turned out this was just a regularly scheduled maintenance project. However, at that time, other locals and business owners had heard the San Buenas Asphalt project was moving forward.
The San Buenas asphalt project is another visible and wonderful improvement in the infrastructure in the Tres Rios-San Buenas area. Over the past two years Ojochal and Coronado have been paved. It only made sense for San Buenaventura to be next.
Everyone in the area is thrilled with the new road. The one important thing to keep in mind, however, is that there are still plenty of children in the area to not speed when driving on the new road.
Some new friends were planning on making a Panama shopping trip at the Costa Rica-Panama border this week and they asked if we wanted to join them. We were unable to go on Tuesday as planned so they changed their plans and we all went on Wednesday instead. So many wonderful and nice people in Costa Rica!
Heading to Panama Border
There is a city in Costa Rica called Paso Canoas which is on the border of Panama-Costa Rica. This was our destination for Panama shopping! We live in San Buenaventura, which is 20km south of Uvita, so we headed south on the Costanera Highway (HWY 34) to Paso Canoas. San Buenaventura is approximately two hours from Paso Canoas (or 2 1/2 hours south of Uvita). It’s a simple drive. Head south to Palmar Norte, take a right turn at the intersection of the Pan American Highway and Costanera Highway. Cross the Ri0 Terraba River over the iconic Palmar Norte bridge, like you’re going to Palmar Sur and Sierpe. However, stay on Highway 2 (Pan American Highway). The drive is pretty flat and easy, aside from it’s a two-lane road the whole way! There is a larger town Ciudad (city) Neilly which has a hospital, which is where some of the specialty doctors are located.
Golfito, Costa Rica
About 1/2 way to the border is a town call Golfito, which has duty free shopping. Well, up to $2,000 tax free per year. Plus, there are limitations on how much you can buy of certain items, such as 3 carton of cigarettes or 12 liters of alcohol every 6 months; or one washer every year; or one stove/oven every 2 years; etc. This is separate from the $500 tax free when entering via the airport.
You must get a shopping authorization cart (TAC), which is how they keep track of what you’ve purchased. Now you have to get this TAC, but can’t use it for 24 hours. And once you use it, you can’t use it again for 24 hours after pick up. So basically the first day you put everything on husband’s card….then the next time you go back, you pick up the husband’s card (which can’t be used for 24 hours), so you buy everything on the spouse’s card; and you keep switching like that…until you have to get a new card each year.
Golfito is known for cheaper prices on electronics and appliances. We didn’t stop there today, as we didn’t need anything and our ride wasn’t going there. However, we’ll write up another blog when we do visit!
As we get to the border, there’s a big huge building in the middle of the road, which is the border for Panama.
We turned left on the road right before the building, the left side of the road is Costa Rica and the right is Panama, but it’s just a normal road. When you go down the road a little ways and find a parking lot, you pay and they watch your car for you 500 colones/hr (~90 cents per hour). We only had one reusable bag here in Costa Rica with us, so that’s all we took with us. However, you leave it in the car because if you take it into the store, then they take it and tag it and you can’t get it back until after you check out and everything is already in bags?!?! So we left those in the car.
We walked into the building (which is on the Panama side–so we’re in Panama, but we didn’t have to check out of Costa Rica and check into Panama–you only have to do that if you need your 90 day visa) WHAT?!?!?! Well at least in this area of stores..more to come on that…
City Mall (in Panama)
First thing you see when you walk into the store is a McDonald’s….oh it smelled so good!!!! We didn’t eat there today, but we will in September when we go back for our visa!!!!!
OHHH the smell…I haven’t had McDonald’s fast food in months!!!
So this store has everything–you name it…shoes, hair products, makeup, clothes, sunglasses, pharmacy, groceries, electronics, etc. etc. etc.
City Mall at Costa Rica-Panama border
It’s this huge two story building and apparently Panamanians LOVE U.S. brands. Everything is grouped by brand. So there’s a Guess section; Tommy Hilfiger section, Nike, Speedo, Toms, Bahama Mama, etc…just everything. It’s weird because all the women, men’s and kids clothes are all in the same location, which is so weird.
Stores display products by brand.
And then the SHOES….thank goodness I don’t need tennis shoes here, because I could have gone crazy. My brother would love this store as there were just walls and walls of all types of shoes and most cheaper than the U.S. Nike was a little less, but not like the other brands. For example TOMs are around $80 in the USA but only $35 here.
I’ve never seen so many shoes in one place!!
Groceries in Panama
And don’t get me started on the groceries!!!! So many more choices and mostly cheaper than in Costa Rica. They even had cheese from the USA so I had to get some Gouda, Havarti, and Muenster. It’s one thing I miss about living in Costa Rica is the availability and affordability of cheese. I miss my cheese and crackers. Ritz crackers were only .87 USD (this store shows prices in USD), so had to do some calculations to compare to the prices in Uvita which are priced in Costa Rica colones. After a while I gave up because they were all cheaper and I didn’t want to think that much while Panama shopping! Plus, I’m used to converting colones into US dollars, not the other way around.
Inexpensive and large variety of cheese! These are tough to find in Costa Rica
I was worried this would happen…we had nothing on our list but we ended up spending $71. In addition to the specialty cheeses and crackers, we bought some batteries (way cheaper). I also needed shredded cheese for tacos tonight and this way I didn’t have to go to the store when we got back home…. and it was cheaper!!! LOL! I got some soft cat food as treats for the cats that we give them on Sundays as a treat; lunch meat was $3 cheaper per bag and we can freeze that. Okay not even going to lie, we both got 2 HUGE Hershey’s chocolate bars—it’s not something you can find in the stores in Uvita. I can’t even remember what else we bought, but we had 3 sacks worth. Thankfully our friends had brought a cooler so we could put our cold stuff in there.
Stamp or no Stamp???
We lost our friends for a little while–we finally found them, they had already checked out and once you check out you can’t get back in, so they had to go get the car and he ran in to find us–thankfully we were trying to stand in a central location and not move! After checking out, we went down the road (the opposite way) to a Soda for lunch.
I have never, in all my travels seen a border like this! There was a two lane road (that we were on) in Costa Rica. Then there was a strip of land that had stores, gas stations, grass on the other side of that was a two-lane road and that was Panama!! After lunch we stopped for gas. We pulled in from the Costa Rica side, and we had to make sure to pull out on the right side. Turns out if we would have gone out on the Panama side we would have driven down to the border crossing and we would have been in trouble because we didn’t have our in/out stamps…scary!!! It was confusing, but intriguing, and I’m not sure what the planners were thinking when they designed it. Welcome to Central America.
One side of this gas station is Costa Rica and the other is Panama–make sure you go out the right exit!!!
After lunch, it was LIQUOR time!!! As I mentioned, in the middle island separating the Costa Rica and Panama roads are shops, and there were liquor stores. Every Panama shopping trip should include a visit to a liquor store. The prices are great! Cheap! The first place we went to, only took cash but doesn’t ask for your passport (like they are supposed to)!! Bottle of Disaronna $12. Not as cheap as making it, but the stuff we made hasn’t sat well with my stomach (more about making Disaronna in a future post) could be the cheapness of the vodka!!! LOL. (and no it’s not about the quantity either!!!) They also had Moscato. Tt’s Barefoot, which isn’t the greatest, but it’s the first Mascato I’ve found. Plus, it was only $4 a bottle. So we picked up a stash.
So we didn’t actually passport stamp in and out in Costa Rica or Panama. You don’t have to do that to just go Panama shopping, which is so weird. Unless you go on the wrong road and then you could be in trouble. Our friends showed us the building where we have to get our passports stamped, pay the immigration fee, then the building to actually check out of Costa Rica. Also, they showed us the building above with ‘PANAMA’ is where you go in/out for Panama….gosh, I hope we can do this ourselves next time in September!!!!
Once we made the last stop, we headed back north to home. There is a check point about 1/2 way where they stop you and look in your windows..if you have a lot of bottles in your car, they may ask to see your paperwork/receipts, but they just looked and waved us on through. We’re told to go there after 4pm as they are closed!!! lol
We LOVED Panama shopping!!! We felt like we were kids in a candy store! We think it’s better than Quepos, even if it is slightly longer drive. There are advantages like everything is in one location and it has more products and variety!
After almost a year of being closed for a major remodel, the Palmar Sur Airport Open. Check out the video below for a ‘walk-through’ of the new terminal building. There was a ribbon-cutting event that the Costa Rica President attended (and cut the official ribbon) to celebrate the new airport.
I really like all the changes that they made to improve the Palmar Sur airport. Below are just some of the changes – the ones we know about:
Completely enclosed structure. The previous airport terminal was open-faced and when it rained it was near impossible to stay dry. Flying in an airplane with wet clothes is never fun. The huge and numerous windows still allow passengers to enjoy the natural scenery and can watch planes landing and departing.
Runway changes. The runway length was increased. The width was increased. The new runway is illuminated 24-hours a day with LED lights. This is one of the few regional airports with landing lights. This is a great safety feature given all of the rain and fog that is common during the rainy season.
Emergency service capabilities. The increased runway length, width and lighting, was installed for safety reasons. The airport can now be used 24 hours/day in emergency situations. There is the regional hospital 15 minutes away and now patients can be Medivac’d anytime day or night. Also, in the event of a small-to-medium-sized airplane emergency, Palmar Sur is now large enough to handle them. There are new fire hydrants and a huge submerged water tank that can be used in the event of a fire.
Distinct departure and arrival areas.
The airport is located between Palmar Norte and Sierpe in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. Turn right, towards Sierpe, after crossing the Palmar Norte-Rio Terraba bridge as you head south on Route 2. Turn right approximately 400 meters down the road, as the main road curves left. The airport is on the left-hand side.
Palmar Sur Airport Open Event
There was an inauguration event on August 23, 2019, to celebrate the opening of the terminal. This marked the “official” opening of the new airport facility.
Remodeled Palmar Sur airport is now open!
Inside of Remodeled Palmar Sur Airport Open
We recommend all of our clients who are visiting Uvita, Ojochal, San Buenas or Chontales, to fly from San Jose to Palmar Sur. It is an easy 35 minutes flight and a wonderful way to see the amazing topography of Costa Rica.
Contact us if you’d like more information about the Palmar Sur airport, property management needs in the area or renting a vacation home to use during your time in Costa Rica.
A friend of mine here in Costa Rica called to see if we wanted to go on a Uvita whale watching tour this week….ahhh of course!!!
She organized a group of 10 of us to go with Captain Marlon on tour. The tour costs $50 per person, plus we gave a tip to the guides afterwards.
The meeting place for the tour is on the whale’s tail beach in Uvita. The beach is part of the Parque National Marino Ballena (the National Marine Whale Park).
The main road to the beach and National Park has parking lots, which I recommend you use for parking. The street parking is not very well marked and I have heard of people getting tickets. Plus, parking only cost 2,000 colones (approximately $3.50 USD).
Then, we had to pay to get into the National Park which was 6900 colones ($6 each or $12).
Remember, the beach/park does not allow any alcohol, so leave that in your car (unless you can sneak it in!!!)
Marino Ballena National Park
Famous “Whales Tail” in Uvita, Marino Ballena National Park
Marino Ballena National Park
Uvita Whale Watching Tour
There were 12 other people on the tour with our group, so a total of 22 people. The guides started out with giving us life jackets and instructions on how to board the boat.
Once we got on the boat they stored our bags for us, as getting past the waves can sometimes we very wet; thus to protect our phones and cameras!
Once we were out past the waves, the guides started looking for whales and right off the bat they find a spot where whales have been spotted and two other boats are there watching.
By law the boats can only get so close to the whale and only so many boats can be in the same spot. Even though the photo is zoomed, we were close enough to see how large these animals were!
Whales are huge and majestic mammals.
Whale “waving” to us!
We then headed north to the Dominical area, where we were able to see a mother with her calf.
Whale Mother and calf near Dominical
And they came up to the surface so many times…
Whale breaching during the tour.
And I couldn’t believe how many times the calf breached the surface—- or what we would call jumped…didn’t get any photos as it happens so fast and unexpectedly, but did get this video…
During the tour we came across this island, where we got to get out of the boat and swim for a little while which was really refreshing!
After swimming we were giving some fruit (watermelon and pineapple), along with water, which was a nice treat!
The tour then headed south to Playa Ventanas, which is a beach by Ojochal. This beach is famous for the “caves” along the water. It’s said you can sometimes walk or boat through them depending on the tides.
Cave at Playa Ventanas
After seeing Playa Ventanas we had a wonderful boat ride (really fast) north back to the whale’s tail beach where we ended the Uvita Whale Watching tour.
The guide said we saw more whales than is normally seen on the tours, so we had a fantastic time with friends and seeing the whales! I can’t believe some of the locals have never done this!!! Wonderful day!
This morning I saw a Facebook post that mentioned all national park entrance fees were waived for the day for National Park Day. So…guess what we did? We decided to go to Manuel Antonio National Park!
Getting to Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is located in the city of Quepos. Quepos is approximately 58 miles north of where we live in San Buenaventura. We had to make a stop in Uvita on our way, so we ended up getting to Quepos around 10am.
After getting into Quepos (downtown), you must cross over the mountain to get to the park. We figured it would take longer today due to the anticipated traffic. We thought there would be a lot of people going to the park since it was free today. However, the traffic wasn’t bad. The road is one lane each way and twists and turns, but every once and awhile there is this amazing view of the ocean. Otherwise, the view is mostly hotels and restaurants for tourists.
As you get down the other side of the mountain, you run into a public beach, which is really nice (not in high tide though). The road along the beach reminded us of Myrtle Beach with people walking everywhere, bars, and souvenir shops–but here it is only a couple blocks, not miles like in SC!
After you get on the beach road, which is running parallel to the beach, you take a left hand turn. There was a guy with a sign when we got there, which helped.
Then you will start to see people trying to get you to park your car. These are not necessarily with the park, so just beware. We were able to get parking in a huge field not more than a couple blocks from the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park. It only cost us 2000 colones (less than $4).
Sign at entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park
On our way to the park, we were approached by someone asking if we’d like to take a tour. He had on a Park shirt, so we think
Boardwalk at Manuel Antonio National Park
he was official, but you can never tell down here!
Since we weren’t paying entrance fees (and we’ve had good tour experiences) we decided to go with a tour. The tour cost US$20 USD (12,500 colones) each person. For an additional $10, you can have a private tour.
Due to our circumstances, we did ask if the tour was strenuous/difficult and we were told it would be accommodated by the guide, as necessary.
The tour lasts approximately 1.5 hours and is well WORTH it! There are platform trails that will lead you around the park, but the tour guide was able to spot animals that we wouldn’t have seen ourselves.
So if you are going to see animals, take the tour. If you’re going to just enjoy a walk, nature views, and the beach–you don’t need a tour.
Entering the Park
Upon entering the park, besides taking your ticket, they do check bags to make sure no unauthorized items are brought in.
Before we left, we looked to see if we could take a picnic in with us. We found that you could take sandwiches if in paper bags or Tupperware; same with chips and crackers.
However, when we arrived with our crackers in Tupperware, they were not allowed! (We did see people who must have snuck things into the park, like chips in original bags).
We figured out that we were looking at some tour company site, not the official National Park site, so make sure you find the official site—or just take empty water bottle like we did. NOTE: they do have a little stand that sells some food, but we didn’t get anything but assume prices were probably high!
Our tour guide was really good–he spoke very good English and communicated the whole tour in both English and Spanish, as we had mixed languages in our tour.
He was amazing at spotting the animals–but also really knowledgeable about them also. For each animal he told us something about them, which made it that much more interesting.
The guide also carried a scope which allowed closer views of the animals—and he would use the scope to take pictures with your phone if you wanted!
He was very patient and made sure everyone heard his talk, got to look in the scope, and got pictures if they wanted.
Within the park there are three beaches; however, we only made it to two of them while we were there. But the views were spectacular; plenty of room to lay on the sand; water not too far away to walk out.
Our tour ended at beach #3 and that beach had picnic tables to sit and eat at. The monkeys hang out at this beach and along the early path to beach #2—just remember to not feed them or even eat by them; they have been know to grab food if you’re close by!
On our way out, we went a different way and saw beach #2. Both beaches had bathrooms with shower stations to rinse off, which is really nice.
Plus throughout the park are water stations where you can fill a bottle for drinking–and the water doesn’t taste too bad!!!
One of the beaches at Manuel Antonio National Park
Beach at Manuel Antonio National Park.
Below are some of the animals we saw on our tour in the park:
Note: we did see spiders, but you won’t see pictures, I’m sure you can guess why!
Iguana–which we’ve come to think of like squirrels back home–they’re everywhere!
Agouti–which is related to the guinea pig?!?
We even saw a sloth! Check out the sloth video below!
We left the park around 1ish, but stopped to do some shopping in town, so we didn’t arrive home until 5pm–we were tired and exhausted, but had an AMAZING day!
Osa Golf is the New Name of San Buenas Golf Course
Osa Golf Course is the new name of what used to be known as San Buenas Golf Course in the San Buenas Golf Resort. The reason for the name change is that the golf course is under new management. The real estate development itself is still owned and operated primarily by Robert Frazier and the development is keeping its name of San Buenas Golf Resort (I think).
We are still managing a condominium that is available for vacation rental at the development however. Neither Osa Property Management nor the owners of the condo, have received all the details yet.
New Management Team at Osa Golf
As I understand it today, the new management team consists of three investors. They are an investor who also owns a condominium unit at the resort, an outside investor and the current Osa Golf Course Superintendent. The three of them all have a vested financial interested in the success of the golf course.
My Thoughts on the ‘Old Course’
San Buenas Golf Resort is a beautifully designed course with plenty of challenging holes to play. In fact, I’ve ‘donated’ (translated = lost) several dozen golf balls while playing the course throughout the years.
I’ve known a variety of people involved with the golf course throughout the years. I believe that they are great builders and operators. Where their skill set was lacking, in my opinion, was in the marketing and the promotion of the course. Up to a couple of years ago, the course was always in pristine condition. It was beautiful to play and to enjoy, but few people seemed to know more than the general idea of where it was actually located. I also felt the pricing was prohibitive and out of line for a nine-hole course. Keep in mind, this is not a Par-3 course of nine holes, it is a world-class designed course. However, I believe to attract customers and new players in the area, pricing should always be evaluated and adjusted as needed. I felt the last couple of years it really seemed to lose its energy. Collectively, all of these issues meant that there was never too many players on the course. That’s great if you like to golf, but it is an unsustainable business model.
There are several reasons for this but suffice to say that the current management team was simply tired and run down in my opinion.
Osa Golf Course is the new name of San Buenas Golf Resort.
My Expectations on the ‘New Course’
I am very excited and optimistic about the new operational and ownership structure of the golf course. We are still learning more about some of the proposed ideas and improvements, but there is a rekindled passion being put forth. As many of you already know, I own 150 acres immediately adjacent to San Buenas Golf Resort (Villas San Buenas). It has always been my hope that the course would increase marketing and promote the region a bit more. That would be a true ‘win-win’ for everyone in the community. The successes of Osa Golf Course and of Villas San Buenas, with its 100+ lots, can benefit each other.
One advantage of the new management is that they are focused exclusively on the golf course and the customer experience. They will not have the responsibility or the distractions associated with the development of the real estate. As a developer of 150 acres, I can tell you there are many things that can distract you. The people involved at Osa Golf live full-time in, or near, Osa Golf Course. This proximity allows them to work, to see and to experience the course daily. They have a truly financial and time interest in the success of the golf course. That investment increases the likelihood of success. I look forward to hopefully working with them to see if there’s anything us neighbors can do to help each other.
I wish the new management team of Osa Golf Course wonderful success!!
We recently met a couple at BINGO in Ojochal who recommended that we take the Kokopelli Sierpe River Wildlife Tour in Sierpe –in fact, they’ve gone on it at least four times and take all their visitors on the tour. That was impressive enough for me to book a tour with them.
Kokopelli Tours specialize in small groups (min. 2 people) for mangrove and wildlife tours on the Sierpe River. We contacted the tour company, via email, on Wednesday afternoon, and they responded within 30 minuntes. It was great to hear that they have tours every day of the week, so we could make the tour fit into our schedule. We set up our tour for Monday 8:30am.
My husband and I were the only two people on the tour; along with the guide/boat driver. Our tour guide was:
Very knowledgable about the wildlife; and
AMAZING at spotting the animals for us to see!!
The tour left a little earlier than 8:30, since we were the only guests and we were there and ready. The tour lasted 3 hours!!!! and we were provided 2 drinks each (either water or Tropical brand fruit juice).
The boat was a smaller size, which was nice; as we were able to go down some of the smaller river pathways that other boats couldn’t—however, the seats in the boat were on the sides and faced inwards, so it made it difficult to sit comfortably and see all the animals (as the boat is cruising down the river). Don’t get me wrong, we SAW all the animals, and the guide made sure to slow down/stop, back-up, and even turn around to ensure we got a good view–and as long of view as we wanted.
Right after pulling away from the dock behind the tour building, we stop next to the shore (by someone’s house!!) and we see at least 15-20 green iguanas. Big ones, fat ones, males, females, some sitting, some crawling, some in the trees….and some eating!!! I have never seen so many iguanas in one area out in nature! It was amazing–tour would have been worth that alone!
It seems that there may have been some food left for them, hence the number of them in one area.
Two iguanas photographed on the tour.
We saw several other green iguanas sitting on tree trunks, along the river during our tour. But we were also able to see two different Jesus Crist lizards–one posing….and the other one was running on top of the water (hence their name). I wish we could have got a picture of it running on water, but hence that’s not how pictures work!
During the course of the tour, we saw many other green iguanas sitting on tree branches along the river; however, we were also able to see 2 Jesus Crist lizards!! One was posing, but the other one was running ON water (hence its name)! I wish we could have gotten a picture of that one–but movement doesn’t show well in pictures and not to mention it was FAST!
One of many iguanas we saw
We saw lots of birds, but some specific, unique and rare ones we saw were:
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Amazon King Fisher
Yellow Crowned Night Heron
Boat Billed Heron
Little Blue Heron
Yellow crowned night heron
Do bats count as birds??? I know they’re mammals but heck, they fly, right? LOL maybe I should have used the title “flying things”.
Bats on a tree.
Things in trees
Probably the best part of the tour (for me), was seeing the animals in trees… monkeys, sloths, and raccoons (okay I’m from the USA and I could see these nightly on my back deck, but the ones in Costa Rica are smaller and cuter!).
I love that I got to see these in real life versus at the sanctuaries here!
We were able to see 2 of the 3 monkey species found in Osa Peninsula; Squirrel Monkey and Howler Monkey.
Two howler monkeys
Howler monkeys climbing on bamboo trees
Squirrel monkeys in bamboo cluster.
Things in and near the water
Okay these are the animals that give me the creepy crawlies….and sometimes nightmares—yes, the snakes–but guess the crocodiles are pretty cool–since I’ve never seen them in the wild!
We saw two different Tree Boas —or course sleeping!
Tree boa constrictor
Yep we saw a crocodile–and they can get up to 18 ft long (average is 14 ft)–this one was a little smaller at only 9 feet!! YIKES!!
Crocodile in the Sierpe River
While the animals were amazing, we don’t want to forget about the scenery!
We LOVED this Sierpe River Wildlife Tour and give it a 4.8 out of 5–and we’ll definitely bring our guests to enjoy this amazing hidden gem in Osa Peninsula.
Relaxing Playa Hermosa, (between Dominical and Uvita)
Most of us here at Osa Property Management work between five and seven days per week. Given our business, there are clients typically checking-in or checking-out on any given Friday, Saturday or Sunday (and all the other days of the week), so every week is different than the week before. We had several clients ask for a late check-out today, and those properties did not have anyone checking in later today, so that meant that my entire morning was open. It was a welcome break after a very busy week of meeting with visitors, checking the work of our landscaping and pool cleaning crews and scheduling excursions. I decided to take some time relaxing Playa Hermosa
Playa Hermosa, between Uvita and Dominica, Costa Rica
Family Fun at the Beach
We got there just as the tide was nearing its lowest point. Here’s a link for Costa Rica tide charts. That allowed us to enjoy a large amount of sandy beach. My friends brought a small portable grill, charcoal (carbon as it’s known here) and some meat. I brought some soft drinks, sandwiches for the kids and a hammock for my day relaxing Playa Hermosa. I took full advantage of the trees on the beach and the hammock – check out the photo at the top of this page. Pura vida indeed!!!
Relaxing Playa Hermosa
The adults in the group enjoyed preparing the food, having a few drinks and catching up. The kids loved the huge area to run around and to dip their feet into the amazing Pacific Ocean. Playa Hermosa is one of the few beaches in the area with full-time lifeguards, but it is still advisable to take great caution when swimming in the water at the beach. The riptides can be powerful.
Although I would have preferred to have spent the entire day at the beach, and to watch the breathtaking sunsets there, I had to get back to our clients.
Facing north at Playa Hermosa between Uvita and Dominical.
If you would like more information about Playa Hermosa, visiting Dominical or visiting Uvita, please contact me by filling out the form below. We have a couple of vacation home rentals available within five minutes of Playa Hermosa.
When grocery shopping in Uvita, there are two supermarkets and a farmers market to choose from. The supermarkets are:
Supermercado el Pacifico
Both of these grocery stores are located on the east side of Highway 34/Costanera Highway in Uvita.
Based on gossip I’ve heard (but have not confirmed), both stores are owned by the same person/company, so you would expect the brands and prices to be the same….but not quite.
Supermercado del Pacifico, Uvita.
BM Uvita (under remodel)
Before we get into the unique stores, let’s talk about the actual products here in Costa Rica. You may have read that groceries are cheaper in Costa Rica than in the U.S., which is true if you don’t have any U.S. brand loyalty. While there are U.S. products here that we love, like Oreos, they come at a price. The price is higher on these products since they are imports and have costs associated with getting them to and into Costa Rice.
Eggs in Costa Rica
Eggs are sold by the weight, typically 1200 colones per kilogram, and are not kept cold as they are in the U.S. Eggs in Costa Rica are not power washed to get rid of salmonella like in the US, so they have their natural coating so they don’t have to be in the fridge.
Yogurt in Costa Rica
There is Yoplait yogurt here in Costa Rica and it is sold in plastic containers (buckets), but the local yogurt (Coronado brand) is sold in a jug and lasts about 2 weeks. You will find the yogurt to be more liquid than those found in the U.S.; but great the flavor is good and they have interesting flavors, such as blackberry, peach, lemon, mango, strawberry, etc.
Condiments in Costa Rica
Again there are the U.S. brands of condiments, such as Heinz Ketchup and Mustard, or Hellman’s Mayo, but they may not always be the cheapest. Many of the brands, even those U.S. ones came in bags. My guess is that the locals will initially buy the bottle of condiment, but then use the bags to refill the bottle. The bags are significantly cheaper, no matter what brand you choose. However, we’ve found that using the condiment directly from the bag works just fine.
I’m not sure about you, but I LOVE mayo! (I know some of you may be Miracle Whip fans, but you’re going to be out of luck). What I found interesting is that most of the mayo’s have lime in them. I was able to find Hellman’s brand that had no lime and came in light also.
Laundry Soap in Costa Rica
Many options of laundry detergent – most of it is sold in large plastic bags.
There are liquid laundry soaps in the stores, but I’ve found that most locals use the powder, which isn’t that unusual in itself; however, the powder comes in bags, which I don’t remember seeing in the U.S. (However, I used those awful tide pods that people ate!). If my calculations were right, the powder is cheaper also—but I really like having a nice sturdy container–so will be figuring that out shortly.
Dish Soap in Costa Rica
Similarly, there is liquid dish soap, but most people use the paste. There are different brands, sizes, and fragrances of these dish pastes. I really really like them!!! If I would have not used my dishwasher in the U.S. and done my dishes by hand, I would have loved to have this available. Basically, you just rub your dish rag/scrubber over the top and you pick up a little of the paste and go straight to your dishes. It saves filling the sink with lots of water and dishes seem to go faster (or at least in my head)!
Dish soap cleaning paste
Soups and Spices
Many of the spices and soups come in packets. And many times you’ll find you purchase 4 packets at a time, such as our Pico Gallo seasoning.
While maybe becoming more popular in the U.S., we definitely didn’t see 1) Smirnoff in cans–usually glass; and 2) mixed drinks in cans. Bamboo brand is mojitos or rum/coke in cans. At one smaller store we saw the BamBoo rum/coke in a liter bottle, which we actually thought was just a type of soda a first!
Both the Uvita BM and the Supermercado have an air conditioned liquor room – it’s like a liquor store within a store. The beer is kept in the main part of the store, but liquor, wine and specialty drinks are kept separate.
Spices sold in packets
Refrigerated liquor area at Uvita BM
Both the BM and the Supermercado have a large variety of liquor and wine to choose from. Wine and liquor are sold in refrigerated portions of the store, in both cases. Although the Uvita store will soon be 100% air conditioned (the only one in the whole area between Palmar Norte and Quepos).
Grocery Prices in Costa Rica
You will find that there are different products available at different stores. For example, we use a Pico de Gallo dry seasoning, which comes in packets of 4—however, in a can at the Supermercado, but not at the BM in Uvita. Surprisingly the BM in Palmar Norte does carry it?!?!
The store brand (we’ll call it) for condiments at the Supermercado seems to be “El Angel”, but it is “Banquete” at the BM. However many of the brands are the same, such as “DoniaMa” for white sugar; “Bimbo” for bread; or “Dos Pinos” for milk products. Typically you’ll find a standard brand, but then one store will carry a different brand than the other store as an alternative.
In an effort to maximize our food budget, we decided to compare prices of our typical groceries between the Supermercado and the BM. What we found is that out of 74 items, 21 (or 28%) of the products were the same brand and price between the two stores. Of the remaining 53 items, approximately half were cheaper at the Supermercado and half cheaper at the BM. However, the price differences weren’t significant. For example, Betty Crocker cake mix was .04 colones per gram cheaper at the BM; but Lengena Spaghetti noodles were .08 colones per gram cheaper at the Supermercado.
It should be noted that we did our comparison on the gram, milliliter, and kilogram level (for the most part). You really do
Larger packaging does NOT always mean larger savings.
have to look at prices per measurement, as cheaper overall price doesn’t mean cheaper and larger package doesn’t always mean cheaper. For example, the Banquete ketchup (photo/left): There is one for 1530 for 610 grams, or 2.51 per gram. The larger size is 2140 for 800 grams, or 2.68 per gram.
Now all of our comparison don’t take into consideration any sales that are going on; however, I haven’t figured out how to determine if there is a sale before going into the store–like you would in the U.S. There aren’t advertisements on TV or in papers, that I’ve seen (could be, but I haven’t seen them. However, it might be helpful to take a laminated copy of the brand, price per measurement when you do go shopping, so you can check as you go.
Be aware of “freebies”. Many times you will see a separate (maybe not even related product) that is included with another product. Sometimes it really is free—for example, once I received a 18 oz Pepsi with my 2.5 L Tropical ice tea and the price was the same without the freebie. But many times that may not be the case, so do your due diligence. These are our experiences grocery shopping in Uvita so far.
Store Layouts Are Different
What is interesting about the grocery stores in Costa Rica (at least in Uvita), is the layouts don’t always make sense. For example, cheese slices may be found in multiple locations. You may see a case for local versus import brands (or some other weird segregation), so be sure to look around before finalizing your shopping. The layout can make grocery shopping in Uvita challenging, until you learn where everything is located in each store.
Typically, in the U.S. the butter is found with the other dairy products, but in Costa Rica, there is a separate “cooler case” for butter, which is found by the bread–way across the store from the dairy?!?! Or as you can see in the picture below, ice cream is by itself at the front of this store, but all the rest of the frozen food is in the back of the store.
There may even be a specially section, where there is Dijon mustard which is nowhere near the regular mustard.
Dijon mustard is nowhere near where the other mustards are located.
A couple things that set the Supermercado and BM apart are:
BM is currently expanding and will be air conditioned by the end of the year.
BM has a section for pre-made meals and rotisserie chicken which I haven’t seen at the Supermercado
The specialty food section was found at the BM, but didn’t see anything similar at the Supermercado
However, there are similarities in the stores also:
Both have an air conditioned liquor room (not the beer, but wine and liquors)
Both stores offer house hold items, such as towels, shoes, pans, plastic storage containers, etc.
Both stores have provided a “rebate” when spending over 20 mil. So far I’ve gotten 2 at the BM and 1 at the Supermercado; which were between 1200-1400 colones. You present the coupon receipt at check-out the next time you shop. Usually valid for 30 days. I haven’t found a rhyme to it yet, as sometimes I’ve spent over the 20 mil and didn’t get one.
Uvita Farmers Market (El Mercado)
Finally, the cheapest price for groceries may not be found at a supermarket at all. Uvita’s farmers market typically has cheaper produce available than the grocery stores. The Farmers Market also has a wide variety of produce and other items not always available at the grocery stores. It is a good idea to add the Farmers Market to your grocery shopping in Uvita buying routine. Uvita’s Farmers Market is every Wednesday, from 8 am – 5 pm, at the Salon Comunal Bahia Ballena.
Uvita’s Farmers Market has a large variety of locally grown produce.
In conclusion, this post gives you some ideas around grocery shopping in Uvita, but how you approach it really depends how much time you have, how much time you spend, your budget, and if you really end up saving money by going to multiple stores–we haven’t figured that out yet!
Let us know what you think and what your experiences are like. We’re new here – and we’re still learning!
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.