Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Park are separated by only 77 miles (125km) when traveling by land. When visiting the park, most people stay in one of two nearby towns and then go into the park for day trips.
The two towns close by with good access to the park are Drakes Bay and Puerto Jimenez. You can drive all the way into Puerto Jimenez, and a water taxi is recommended to get to—and around—Drakes Bay.
A shared shuttle or private transport is the most recommended transportation option between the two locations due to the last stretch of drive that requires 4WD. The bus is also an option, but not usually recommended because it takes at least 6 hours and involves multiple transfers.
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To Drakes Bay, By Car and Water Taxi
Duration: 2.5 -3 hours
To get to Drake’s Bay, many people drive to Sierpe and then take a water taxi. The drive to Sierpe takes about 2 hours from Manuel Antonio. The first part of the drive can be a little tricky as there are a few turns as Route 618 becomes Calle 5 and you eventually zig-zag your way onto Route 235, so be sure to follow the GPS closely.
The majority of your trip will be on Route 34, for almost 62 miles (100 km). A slight right onto Route 2, then after you cross over the Térraba River, another right onto Route 223 will lead you to the Sierpe River.
The water taxi leaves Sierpe and then takes about an hour to get to Drakes Bay. While this drive may be possible in the dry season, it is a one-lane road that requires 4WD and is still risky. In the rainy season, there is no safe way to drive between the two towns.
You won’t need your car in Drakes Bay, so most people leave it in Sierpe for the duration of their visit to the national park.
To Puerto Jimenez, By Car
Duration: 3.5 hours
When traveling to Puerto Jimenez, you can drive directly to the La Leona Ranger station, and then walk into the park. It’ll take you about 3.5 hours to drive to Puerto Jiménez. Following the same directions to get to Route 34 from Manuel Antonio, you’ll continue on that road until it becomes Route 2 and then take Route 245 towards Puerto Jiménez.
From Puerto Jimenez, you can also take a water taxi from Golfito—which takes just a half an hour. You can also continue your drive to Carate, another 26 miles (43 km) south, along a very rough stretch of road. If you’re driving to Puerto Jimenez and Carate you will need a 4WD, as the road goes from gravel to a rocky, muddy mess. The drive through to Carate will take just over 5 hours and covers 162 miles (261 km).
By Shared Shuttle
Duration: 3.5 to 4 hours
There is a shared shuttle that picks up in Manuel Antonio and drops off in Sierpe and Puerto Jimenez. After the three-hour shuttle to Sierpe, you can get a water taxi into Drakes Bay. The trip to Puerto Jimenez takes about four hours and has you within walking distance into the park.
The shared shuttle is highly recommended due to the rough terrain at the end of the drive and the ease of not having to leave a car at the docks in Sierpe.