10 Things to Do in the Matapalo Area // Osa Peninsula // Costa Rica


Even though I did say once I didn’t want anyone to go to Matapalo 😉 I created this blog post with all my favorite things to do in the area for those who have asked.  Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Charles Knox

1. Hit The Beach

Some of the best things in life and simple and free. The Matapalo area has three main beaches that offer three levels of swimmability and perks.

PAN DULCE: The fist one you’ll come up to from the main road is Pan Dulce, the safest for swimming, the one where you will surf  beginner waves, SUP and kayak. It has a little parking, lots of shade, perfect for reading a book and bringing kids.

BACKWASH: The second one coming up (also with a tiny “parking lot”) is Backwash beach, my personal favorite. The water on this beach tends to be more turquoise than the other beaches, and with the right tide (high) and (small) swell you can have a great swim. On high tide you won’t have much room to lay out through.  Keep in mind the name backwash implies that the waves suck you in right at the ear of the water (like- take-your-bikini bottoms-off-type-of-backwash), so pay attention when navigating the entrance and exit from the water and go with the waves rather than against. Swim is safest near the rocks on the opposite side of Pan Dulce (so towards Matapalo). If you’ve gone past the steep hill on the road, you’ve passed backwash beach.

MATAPALO: The third beach you’ll find, where the road basically dead ends is Matapalo. There is no safe swimming here, but sunsets are best and also it’s where the action is if you want to watch surfers. 

***Tidepools: since the Matapalo area is not so swimmer friendly you can intelligently take advantage of the low tide and find tidepools to soak in. Between Pan Dulce and Backwash there are some tide pools and in Matapalo, right in front of the beach also.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo
Photo Credit: Charles Knox

2. Surf And Get Active In The Water

If  you’re at the beach and craving more action ,surfing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are right at your fingers tips. Please be respectful of other surfers in the water. While the locals are friendly and laid back, they don’t tolerate a group of foreigners coming in and dropping in on everyone. Be humble, know your etiquette and share the waves. 

For more information on surfing see my comprehensive surfing guide.

Photo Credit: Charles Knox

Contact Aaron for lessons and tours.

Email him at: aaronjg91@gmail.com

Check out his Instagram: https://instagram.com/aaronmatapalo/


Photo Credit: Charles Knox


3. Hike Boque Del Cabo

If you are into hiking, nature, solitude and peace Bosque del Cabo is right for you. You can hike from Matapalo to Bosque up the mountain on a trail called Gulfo Dulce, or drive up to Bosque and hike the Pacific Trail for breathtaking views of cliffs over the ocean, the Zaino trail to see the real jungle. Don’t forget to try the refreshing ginger lemonade at the Boa Bar and take a walk on the suspension bridge.

Keep in mind Bosque’s trails and technically private so it would be best to consume something or purchase one of their services to feel legitimate on their property.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo

4.  Lunch at Lapa Rios

Lapa Rios  offers breathtaking views and a delicious, affordable lunch menu. The fish tacos are excellent, so is the burger and the pulled pork sandwich. Buen provecho! After lunch you may take a short hike to the waterfall and take  a dip if you wish. 


Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo
Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo

5. Treat Yourself to Yoga or Massage at Encanta La Vida

Encanta la Vida is your casual and fun hang out spot, where you can have a great smoothie by the pool or drop-in as a guest for a yoga class or massage. Inquire at the reception for their yoga schedule or at least take a walk to the beautiful yoga deck that extends over Pad Dulce beach. Ask for Lynn or Kate for divine massages


6. Horse Back Ride

From expert to beginner, you can horseback ride on the beach, or up a mountain to (another) waterfall. Contact Rancho Tropical to see about their tours and enjoy a visit to an old-school ranch with lots of (angry) cattle.

Photo Credit: Maria Hillier

7. Tree Climbing & Waterfall Rappelling

For some real jungle action rappel a 45 feet and a 100 feet waterfall and then get roped to  an enormous strangler fig tree (Matapalo) and freefall back down attached to ropes. Contact Everyday Adventures with Andy to schedule your tour.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo

Photo Credit: Maria Hillier

8. Martina’s On Fridays

Martina’s is the little restaurant will see before crossing the bigger river. An adorable locale with  jungle flare, brightly colored walls and  pirate vibes. On Friday night you can go there early to check out the farmer’s market, sample the incredible Osa Natural organic beauty products, eat Barbara’s home made ice cream, and then dance your head off starting 9pm into the night.

They also claim to have beer colder than you ex’s heart 😉

Photo Credit: Charles Knox

10. Drive to Carate

Driving to Carate is always fascinating because you venture into a less travelled, more hidden and completely different Osa Peninsula. The drive alone will  take you through thick greenery, buffalo ranches and pastures. You’ll end up at Carate beach and from there can check out Luna Lodge, nestled on a hilltop with a killer view. (ps: the driveway is also killer).

Photo Credit: Jonathan Hokklo

9. Corcovado National Park

For the intrepid at heart and the real adventurers  you will love this trip deep into one of the most bio-diverse and ecologically intense places on Earth. If crossing rivers Indiana Jones style, hiking Kilometers on beaches and spotting tapirs sounds fun to you then contact Corcovado Hiking Tours with Rodolfo, one of the best guides in the area for a customized tour.




***Bonus: Look Up! Look Down!

Anywhere in the Matapalo area whether you see it or not, you are surrounded by wildlife. Walking is by far the best way to spot moneys, sloths, toucans, frogs, snakes, birds, armadillos and the likes. 🙂

Photo Credit: Charles Knox










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