Sierpe is the door to Térraba-Sierpe National Wetlands and Latin America’s biggest reserve of mangroves. Some of the largest mangroves in the world grow here. Their jumble of exposed roots hold the tree trunks above the water with the outgoing tides, giving the impression of trees on stilts.
The wetlands sit at the juncture of the Térraba and Sierpe rivers and is home to an astonishing selection of birds, reptiles and animals. A boat tour gives you the chance to see monkeys, alligators and their cousin, the caiman. Birds abound here, so keep your binoculars at the ready; you don’t want to miss the multi-colored kingfisher. Watch for herons too, as they wait patiently to snag a fish among the mangrove roots.
Sierpe River Boat Docks
The boat docks in Sierpe are the lauching point for the daily taxi boats to Drake Bay and its surrounding lodges. The boats leave at 11:30am and 3:30pm every day. You do not need a reservation prior to arrival.
Getting to Sierpe
The launch point for the boats is in Sierpe, so whether you’re driving, going with a shuttle or taking the bus, you need to get to the La Perla del Sur restaurant next to Hotel Oleaje Sereno.
If you’re taking the bus, there are buses from Palmar Norte to Sierpe everyday at 4:30, 7, 9:30, 11, 13:30, 14:30 and 17:00 which takes about 40 minutes.
If you’re driving, stay on the Costeanera Sur until you reach the intersection for Palmar Norte, about 45 minutes from Uvita. Take a right at the main intersection, go across the bridge and take the next immediate right (there are signs) to Sierpe, another 10-15 minutes drive.
Returning a car in Sierpe:
There aren’t car rental companies in Sierpe but companies will pick up the car there for an extra fee. With Adobe, their closest office is in Uvita but they can pick up and deliver to the Sierpe dock for a fee.
So you can drive to Sierpe dock, have Adobe pick up the car and then go to Drake Bay so you don’t need to worry about parking the car.
Renting a car in Sierpe: Then if you want to rent a car after your Drake Bay trip, Adobe can deliver the car to Sierpe dock when you arrive so you don’t need to go to their office in Uvita. The latest they can deliver the car is 4:30 PM.
We use Solid rental cars since they do not charge a fee to pick the car up from Sierpe (which is amazing and so convenient). You cannot book a rental car to be picked up in Sierpe online however, which is why we always just book the car when we arrive to the SJO airport.
RIVER AND MANGROVE TOUR
The best River and Mangrove Tour can be booked with La Perla del Sur.
The Térraba-Sierpe mangrove is one of the largest wetlands in Central America and the largest wetland of Costa Rica. It has 32,000 hectares and is highly diverse in terms of biodiversity, because it has six families of mangle.
While you know the mangrove ecosystem, its importance and benefits, in this journey, we will be able to observe some 40 different types of birds, mangrove boa snakes, cat's eyes and corals, titi monkeys or white face monkeys, caimans, crocodiles, and Jesus Christ lizards, among other species.
This mangrove is one of the largest sites of archaeological interest of the country, inhabited by indigenous people 300 years BC. This is also where the stone carved spheres are found, declared by the UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage.
Duration: 3 hours or more
Includes: bilingual tourist guide, beverages and fruits. You can choose between boat or Kayak.
Recommendations: bring insects repellent, drinking water and sun block lotion.
Sierpe to Drake Bay Boat Schedule
There are two departure times for Drake Bay: 11:30 AM and 3:30 PM. It costs $15 per passenger at 11:30 AM and ~$20 at 3:30 PM. Boats to hotels closer to the Corcovado National Park cost about $25 for the morning boat and the afternoon boat is up to the captain's digression and often times varies with the amount of people in your party.
Talk to the man directing the cars but if you can’t find him, go into the office next to the restaurant. Tell them which hotel you’re going to and they will direct you to the correct boat and when it’ll be ready. You can wait in the restaurant.
You pay them when you reach your destination before you get off the boat in either dollars or colones.
The boat ride
The boats are not very big (holds around 12-24 passengers) and they don’t wrap your luggage so make sure your belongings are nicely zipped up. It’s unlikely your luggage will get wet but you never know so bring garbage bags with if you are worried.
They’ll take your bags for you to load into the boat and you can keep your backpack or purse. They’ll start calling hotels once boats are ready so listen for your hotel.
Once everyone is ready, you’ll begin your journey through Sierpe river and the biggest mangrove forest in Central America.
After about 40 minutes or so, it’s time to merge into the ocean. This part is a bit bumpy depending on the tide, so hold on! The boat captains are all very familiar with this area however, so don’t worry. They know how to navigate and cross the river mouth to the ocean pretty well.
From there, it’s about 20 minutes to Drake Bay. The views of the coast are spectacular! This is why taking the boat from Sierpe to Drake Bay is highly recommended – you don’t get to experience the thrill of boating in a river and ocean if you drive or fly. After the Drake Bay stop, you may stop to let people off at a few locations along the way. The Jaguar's Jungle will be the last and closest stop to the Corcovado National Park.