A map of some of our favorite spots in Costa Rica, and others we are excited to explore

Things to do at Casa Roja

Casa Roja sits in the heart of nature, uniquely located near some of the best beach, ocean, river, rainforest, and mangrove activities in Costa Rica. All local tours and activities around the boca are easily accessible, and are included in your Casa Roja stay or arranged for you. These include tours of the Sierpe River, mangroves, boca, and nearshore ocean fishing. Private boat tours to Corcovado National Park and Caño Island, as well as deep-sea fishing, are available at an extra cost. When you book your trip we will help you plan the ideal itinerary for an experience to remember. The map above includes some of our favorite spots (or places we can’t wait to try) near or en route to Casa Roja.

Swim, boogie board, surf, or kayak from the beach in front of Casa Roja. The beach right in front of Casa Roja is popular with locals. Tour boats on their way back to Sierpe from Drake, Corcovado, and Caño Island often stop at the beach in the afternoon for lunch. Other rental houses and lodges also bring their guests to the beach. The beaches facing the ocean, just around the point from Casa Roja, have larger waves and are better suited for boogie boarding and surfing.

Get up close and personal with walking trees (mangrove forests). Casa Roja is surrounded by undisturbed mangrove forests, so you don’t need to go far to explore. Mangrove tree trunks are propped up on roots that look like legs, giving the impression that the trees are, in fact, walking. They don’t really move, but the thicket of “legs” provides shelter for a huge variety of animals and serves as an important nursery area for many species of fish and wildlife. Low tide, when the roots are mostly exposed, is the best time to explore the mangroves. While there, chances are you’ll see a variety of wildlife, from the red and blue mangrove crabs to sloths high up in the treetops. The only way to fully immerse yourself in the mangroves is by boat, so have our guide take you on a tour, or hop in a kayak and paddle upstream.

Take a shower under a waterfall. Several short trails around Casa Roja provide opportunities to explore the surrounding forest, see local wildlife, and access Playa Ganado, a remote beach where solitude is nearly guaranteed. A short spur off the trail leads to a small and inviting waterfall, and those tempted by a natural, wet massage can stand in the small pool at the base of the fall and enjoy the pelting gush of water on their back and shoulders.

Hike to Playa Ganado. Playa Ganado can be accessed via the trail system through the forest, or via the beach at very low tide by heading south along a strip of sand along the rocky shore. The beach offers picturesque vistas of a classical tropical paradise, long strolls in solitude, and beachcombing.

Go fishing. The fishing opportunities around the Boca are enough to keep even an experienced fisher busy for a week. All the necessary equipment is provided for you at Casa Roja, and our guide will gladly show you the right technique and point out some good spots to cast a line from the beach, or take you in the boat to fish upriver or out on the ocean. It’s quite rewarding to catch your own dinner, and nearly all of the fish caught in the area make excellent table fare.

Check out the “sparkling water” at the beach in front of Casa Roja. Bioluminescent algae live in the waters of the Boca, and when the water is agitated, they give off a tiny flash of yellow and green light. This, however, can only be observed in the dark, ideally during a new moon. Take a stroll after dinner, slip off your sandals and take a few steps in the lapping waves on the beach right in front of the house. Feel the sand between your toes, watch the water (flashlight off!), and see thousands of tiny sparkles light up with every step.

See how many monkey species you can find at Casa Roja! Costa Rica has four species of monkeys, three of which are regularly found at Casa Roja, including howler, white face, and spider monkeys. As with most wildlife, morning is the best time to see monkeys. Start with surveying the treetops from the living room first thing in the morning as you enjoy a cup of coffee. Next walk down to the beach and begin walking, surveying the treetops as you go. It won’t take long to find monkeys foraging for breakfast, and although easily found with the naked eye, binoculars allow you to observe their behavior and see more detail.

Look for our popular but sometime secretive sloth. Casa Roja has a resident sloth, a juvenile that was born on the property in 2018. Sometimes he’s happily resting in a tree at arms-length from the kitchen, other times he’s elusive for a week or two. If you have trouble locating him, no worries, our guide will find sloths for you in different habitats throughout your stay.

Listen to the jungle waking up. No, not in the morning. After the sun goes down – which is always fairly early in the evening – the nightly concert begins as the jungle comes alive with noise. The insect world, only occasionally interrupted by the clicking of geckos or the ribbiting of frogs, creates a cacophony of sounds. If you’re up for a challenge, try and count the number of distinct calls, chirps, trills and rattles you can make out in the nightly serenade.

Go on a crocodile hike. Although it’s easy to see crocodiles from the boat in the upper Sierpe River, if you really want to see crocodiles up close, our guide will take you on a crocodile tour of Isla Violin. Large crocs are often found in the large lake on the island, especially during the wet season.

Look for frogs and snakes on a nighttime hike. There is no better time to hike around in the jungle than nighttime, right!? While sounding a little crazy at first, a walk in the jungle at night is an experience not to be missed. The jungle is alive with an endless number of interesting creatures to observe, not to mention frogs and snakes. Our guide will take you up one of our streams, using flashlights to find frogs resting on aquatic vegetation and snakes in the trees overhead.

Hike the tidal mudflat behind Casa Roja. Casa Roja is unique in that it includes ocean, river, and bay environments surrounding the house. As the tide recedes, mudflats are created along the shoreline behind the house, attracting unique species of shorebirds looking for worms and other food. Low tide is a great opportunity to walk along the shoreline looking for wildlife, and the hike can be done alone or with our guide. Be sure to check out the remnants of a hotel that was built by a San Jose coffee baron about 50 years ago, and immediately abandoned!

Enjoy a traditional Costa Rican beach cook-out. Relax on the beach or beneath the palms with a cocktail as our caretakers prepare a delicious, slow-cooked BBQ for you under the beach palms, including various cuts of both beef and pork popular with locals. In the evening, as the tour boats are no longer transporting tourists to and from various adventures, the Boca becomes a serene experience, and you can enjoy the water, beach, and solitude.

Go wildlife watching. Estero Azul, just upstream from the town of Sierpe, might seem like an unlikely place for wildlife viewing, since this canal is lined with houses and plantations. However, the narrow band of trees and vegetation along the straight waterway harbors enough wildlife for prime viewing up close, from birds and monkeys to snakes and crocodiles.

Go birdwatching, and you don’t even need to leave the living room. As the old saying goes, the early bid catches the worm. While most birds in Costa Rica aren’t after worms, they all seem to be up early. The first rays of the sun are vociferously announced by the feathered occupants of the forest, and their different calls will likely be noticed by all but the soundest of sleepers. This is great opportunity to make yourself a great cup of Costa Rican coffee, grab the binoculars and try to figure out which birds are responsible for the early morning ruckus.

Hike Isla Violin to gather Costa Rican Limes. Our guide will gladly take you across the river to pick some wild Costa Rican limes on Isla Violin. If you like the tangy taste of citrus, you’ll love these limes! They can be used for just about everything, from ceviche to tacos, smoothies to cocktails. If you’re interested, plan to go early during your stay, and stock up for the duration of your visit!

Search for sea turtles at night. During certain times of the year, there is a chance to observe sea turtles laying their eggs in the sand, and, a few weeks later, watch the hatchlings make their way down the beach and into the surf. Getting a glimpse of the sea turtle action, however, requires a night-time visit to the beach – and a good amount of luck. Visitors are more likely to find freshly disturbed patches of sand during the day, a sign that precious eggs are incubating a foot or two below the surface. It is very important to refrain from walking on or attempting to unearth turtle nests.

Look for jungle “treasures.” Attentive wanderers may spot some extraordinary fruits and seeds on the boca trails, such as the red and black seeds (sp. “nene”) of the Ormosia, sometimes referred to as the necklace tree. Wild cacao plants invite visitors to try the basic ingredient of chocolate. The seeds are rather bitter fresh off the tree, but the juicy pulp surrounding the beans is quite tasty. The monkeys like it too, and it is often difficult to find ripe fruit that hasn’t been nibbled on. In addition, thorny trees, beautiful flowers, stunning bromeliads and many other botanical treasures await those willing to explore the forest floor.

Tour the nearshore ocean. Even if you don’t like to go fishing, you should consider a nearshore ocean excursion with our guide. The rocky islands just north of the Boca are home to large colonies of sea birds, including boobies, albatrosses and frigate birds. The sea caves along the rocky shore are rumored to contain pirate treasure, and in the water there’s a chance you may see dolphins, whales, and sea turtles at any time of the year. To the south of the Boca you can cruise along Playa Gandado, or even visit Drake Bay, the nearest town to Casa Roja and hub for local eco-tourism and fishing adventures.

Watch the taxi boats go by in the morning while having coffee or tea. Each day, like clockwork, the taxi boats pass the Boca heading from Drake Bay to Sierpe, or vice versa. The first boats leave Drake Bay at 7:15 am and pass the Boca around 8 am. The travel back and forth several times a day, but only rarely stop at the Boca. When the ocean is rough, however, they may pause for a few minutes on the water, giving the captains a chance to observe the waves and find the best route and timing to navigate between river and ocean.

Turn the lights off and watch the stars at night. There’s hardly a better place to watch the stars far from city lights than at the Boca, especially if you are lucky enough to visit during a new moon. The sky is typically best, i.e. cloudless, in the dry season, from November through May.

Grab some supplies and enjoy the shade and breeze under the coconut palms. Fill yourself a thermos with your favorite beverage, such as ice-cold coconut water (pipa fria), a tropical fruit smoothie, or even a thermos-sized cocktail, or load up a cooler with ice, beer, and lime wedges and head to beach. Take sunscreen, a towel, and water too. Get comfortable under a palm tree on the beach and watch the world go by.

What will you discover at Casa Roja?