Eco family surf retreat, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Ride waves, relax in luxury and live in harmony with nature at this stylish and sustainable surf retreat beside a paradise beach. The Osa Peninsula is home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity and one of the most world’s most biologically intense locations. Osa Clandestina invites you to indulge in jungle life beside the waves: Wake to the chorus of the howler monkeys and macaws, dine on food plucked from local farms, and fuse a luxurious lifestyle with Costa Rica’s wild side.
- BE THERE
- SURF & BEACHES
- EAT & DRINK
- THINGS TO DO
- KIDS SAY
- WE SAY
Paradise for beach and nature lovers
Location: Pan Dulce, Cabo Matapalo, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Best for ages 8+
Getting there: The easiest way to get here is via a domestic flight from SJO to Puerto Jimenez (about 55 minutes) on Sansa Airlines or Skyway. Private charters can also be arranged. A private taxi will be arranged from Puerto Jimenez onto Osa Clandestina (about 30 minutes’ along a dirt track).
Climate: Av. temps 28-30C year round. The ‘rainy’ season is from May to October, with most rain in September and October.
Best time to go: December to August. Dec-Feb for smaller swells, but there can also be flat spells during this time. From March–May the swell is more consistent and it’s dry season. Although May–August is considered rainy season, it’s a great time to visit, with most rain falling at night and some consistent swells rolling through.
Surf level: Intermediate to Advanced. These are point breaks with rocks and hazards. Beginners’ can try Pan Dulce on a small swell, just be aware that there are no sand-bottomed breaks.
Other activities: Horse riding, waterfall rappelling, tree climbing, sport fishing, yoga, wildlife tours.
Time zone: GMT-6
Relax in a jungle-shrouded suite or cabina. Sleep the beat of the waves. Stir to the chorus of howlers monkeys and macaws.
Cabina: Our favourite rooms for families are the jungle cabinas. They house one or two queen-size beds, a writing desk, and a balcony with a hammock where you soak up the jungle surroundings.
Suite: Situated in the main hotel, the family suite contains a king-size bed with the option to add twin beds to sleep up to four.
All rooms have beds made from local hardwoods, organic cotton and wool bedding, hotel water and overhead fans (no air-con). Sustainable design features, solar energy local materials create an off grid lifestyle with creature comforts.
The property is based on 34 hectares of ocean-hemmed land, which is home to an abundance of wildlife including howler monkeys, white-faced capuchins, blue morpho butterflies, spider monkeys, agouti and lots of other species.
Spend lazy days lounging around the spring-fed swimming pool (naturally cleaned using UV light), drinking rosé and watching wildlife while the kids stay cool. Monkeys swing through the canopies above and birdlife such as herons visit the pool.
The open-walled dining room overlooks the pool, jungle and creek, and gives the feeling of being in a treehouse amongst the canopies. It's not only a stunning spot to eat and drink, but to hang out and seek shade at any time time of the day.
Yoga sessions are held in the open-sided yoga studio in the tree tops. It's a beautiful setting from where you can overlook the jungle and witness lots of wildlife between sun salutations. (Note not to allow young children up here as it is totally open sided.)
If you want to enjoy a solo surf or some child-free time, a bi-lingual babysitter can be arranged for $50 a day. They can stay on the property for a couple of days, giving you the change to come and go freely and yo-yo between family time and me-time.
You can also book a spa treatment – from a rejuvenating full body massage, to reflexology.
There is a jungle trail on the estate, along which you will encounter all sorts of wildlife, witness incredible views across the Golfito towards Panama and reach one of the tallest trees in Costa Rica.
It’s about three minutes’ walk from your bed to the beautiful Pan Dulce beach, along a private track. Easy for a sunrise coffee and surf check – and you're bound to see lots of monkeys, butterflies and wildlife on the way.
At Pan Dulce you’ll find a reeling right-hander wrapping into the bay that’s longboard heaven. It breaks from knee-high to double overhead, with really long rides, all the across the bay. There is also an inside wave that’s perfect for pushing beginners into. It is a reef break with a slab-bottom, and can get very shallow. Best at a mid-tide.
Follow the jungle track to Backwash Bay (10 minutes from Osa Clandestine), where you get more powerful, hollow wave, that works at low tide. This is a faster spot for intermediate surfers and shortboarders. It's also stunning for swimming as it drops off steeply from the sand into emerald water.
Carry on along the track from Backwash Bay and you'll get to Matapalo (2km from Osa Clandestina). Probably the most well-known wave in the area, it works on most tides. It packs a punch, spits barrels and is littered rocks and boulders on the inside. Best left to the experts, but an amazing wave if you have the know how.
Back towards Puerto Jimenez, a short drive away, Playa Germany offers an easy beach break, which works on smaller swells.
If you want to try one of the longest left-hand point breaks in the world, hop on a boat from Backwash to Pavones and surf your socks off.
Surf guiding and surf coaching is available with certified instructors. From $65 per person in a group class; private instruction available. Family sessions available and kids can join in as they are water-confident kids.
All the beaches are crowd-free and perfect for family beach days. You'll be sharing the water with pelicans, turtles and encounter all sorts of wildlife on the beach. It's a jungle and beach paradise. There's nowhere else like it on the planet. Just make sure you avoid the midday sun and take flip flops because the sand gets super hot.
Jungle slow food at its best.
Sustainability and self-sufficiency underline the cooking process and ingredients at Osa Clandestina. Their saying goes: "We own the farm and we made the table." Even the coconut oil used to cook with is made onsite. The seafood is landed from the ocean in view.
Tuck into three freshly-cooked meals per day, prepared using as much produce as possible from their own farms (including organic rice, grass-fed beef, coconut-fed pork, and vegetables). Coffee is grown on friends farms, coconut milk made daily, juices freshly squeezed, sour dough bread and kefir made onsite.
There is no set menu. The talented chefs simply cook a fusion of Costa Rican and Western cuisine, according your tastes and dietary requirements. Favourites include the full Costa Rican breakfast, flourless chocolate cakes, Costa Rican-style roasts and tuna steaks seared on the barbecue. You'll be asking the chefs for every recipe!
All meals are served in the open-sided dining room. It feels much like a luxury treehouse, where you can watch monkeys swinging in the canopies, and overlooks the swimming pool, jungle and creek.
This is the sort of place where you can be off on high-octane jungle adventures, or simply chilling out in a hammock soaking up the sights and sounds of the jungle.
Our favourite jungle adventure was by far the jungle trek and tree climbing with Everyday Adventures. Walk up a waterfall, learn all about the flora and fauna, taste termites, then climb 70ft up a fig strangler tree and leap from the canopy.
Go horse riding along the beaches or into the jungle.
Head out to see and try your hand at sport fishing to see what you can catch for dinner.
"This was our favourite location in the whole of Costa Rica. Even though we hit a flat spell and didn't surf that much. They also had some Al Merrick soft-top surfboards we could borrow that were good for the tiny waves.
We loved the wildlife – especially all the monkeys. We even held a Boa Constrictor snake that we found on a jungle walk. And we swung from tree canopies 70-feet high. It was an epic adventure.
We had our own jungle cabin where we could chill in the hammock and write and draw about our adventures. Plus, we all agreed that the food was the best we'd ever had. We asked the cooks for their recipes so mum can recreate them when we get home."
Oli, Leo & Sunny, aged 10, 8 & 5 years.
"This was hands down the most beautiful place we've stayed on the planet. Waking up to the howler monkeys in the jungle was incredible. If you're up for an adventure and love wildlife, then it's a must-go. It's really laid-back so one for slow travel – not fast-paced, spoon-fed adventures. The beaches were pristine and empty, but you have to be a bit careful of the rocks at most of the breaks. It's not great for absolute beginners and really young children. The food was some of the best we've tasted in Costa Rica – freshly sourced and freshly cooked by a small team of talented chefs. If you want to relax and soak up a jungle and beach paradise, this is for you."
Hayley Lawrence, surfer mum of three boys