So you’re planning on living in Sierpe, Costa Rica for a while. Let me guess, you can’t find much information about the place on the internet? Yeah, that happened to us too. This post is our way of helping out those who’d like to know a bit more about living in Sierpe, not as a tourist.
Before you commit to staying in Sierpe for any length of time figure out if it’s right for you. The town is small and the area is remote (many guidebooks label it a “sleepy little Costa Rican town”).
Welcome to our less-than-exhaustive but rather informative mini-guide to Sierpe, Costa Rica. Keep reading to find out about attractions in and around the town, the businesses in Sierpe, and if you’re going to like living there.
Why would anyone want to live in Sierpe?
Sierpe is a small town on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, in the southwest corner of the country. Surrounded by jungle and bordered by the Sierpe River (which leads to the ocean), the area attracts a few gringos and plenty of wildlife.
The town of Sierpe is relaxed so don’t expect any lively night clubs. There’s only one road leading in and out of town, and Sierpe is at the very end. The nearest big-ish town is called Palmar, a half hour drive away.
Palmar has a large chain grocery store (the BM), an ATM & bank, and the nearest gas station to Sierpe. There’s not much between Palmar and Sierpe besides palm plantations, making it feel a bit isolated.
Tourists who visit Sierpe are usually passing through on their way to Corcovado National Park, famous for its diverse and abundant wildlife. Sierpe is known as the gateway to Corcovado, and most tourists only stay a short time before their boat leaves for the national park.
Things to do in Sierpe (and area)
Popular boat tours from Sierpe include the Sierpe mangroves, fishing tours, or going to Drake’s Bay in Corcovado. Cano Island is also reached through Sierpe.
It just wouldn’t be Costa Rica without a ziplining tour nearby – the one nearest to Sierpe is Osa Canopy Tour, a short drive from town. Its tours have ziplines, rappelling and a tarzan swing. We wrote a bunch of helpful info about Osa Canopy Tours on TripAdvisor.
The closest beach town is Uvita, which is popular for surfers and also has a nearby waterfall. It’s an hour’s drive from Sierpe (it’s also possible to get there by bus).
There’s an UNESCO World Heritage site just outside of Sierpe called The Spheres Museum at Finca 6, which features a collection of ancient stone spheres that were discovered in the area and preserved.
We met a tour organizer who lives in Sierpe and works for Mucha Costa Rica; she helped us arrange visits to a few of the attractions.
What businesses can you expect in Sierpe?
Good news! If you’re living in Sierpe you can get everything you need. Maybe not everything you want, but at least what you need. Here are the main services and businesses, followed by the restaurants and food.
List of services in Sierpe
- Buses. Sierpe is reached by the Greyline and Tracopa buses. The Sierpe local bus runs to Palmar and back seven times a day, catch it outside the Super Combo. For the Sierpe-Palmar local bus schedule see the image below (taken Dec 2015, one-way fare 350 colones).
- Car Rental. There are a few car rental companies in Sierpe. Inquire with Kokopelli’s or Oleaje’s. There are also some expats in Sierpe who rent cars (and even boats) a little bit cheaper than the big companies.
- Boats & Outboards. Pagano’s sells and services boats and outboard motors. The Sierpe River is kinda a big deal here, so it’s no surprise that this Yamaha dealer is the busiest place in Sierpe.
- Hospital. There is a small clinic in Sierpe that is run by donation. More serious matters are treated in a hospital about an hour’s drive away. If you live in Sierpe you’ll pay the water bill in the building next to the clinic.
- Pharmacy. Decently stocked, the best thing about this place is that the manager speaks very good English. The Tracopa bus stops directly outside the pharmacy. If you are living in Sierpe this is also where you pay for electricity and internet.
Check out this handy Sierpe map (the town is so small that it was actually pretty comical to make a map, so we did). And keep reading, there’s more services listed after this map of Sierpe.
- Gasoline. Next to the Las Vegas restaurant you can buy pure gas and pre-mixed boat gas. However, the nearest gas pump is in Palmar.
- Propane. The Super Combo has propane and does a tank exchange. The tanks in Sierpe are slightly larger than a typical North American BBQ tank, but still not too heavy.
- SIM & Cellular. If you have an unlocked phone buy SIM cards and minutes at the Super Combo or the pharmacy (you’ll need your passport to buy a SIM). Also, we had to go to Palmar to get our SIM punched down to a micro-SIM.
- Clothing. Near the Mini-Super JB there’s the Boutique Victoria which sells some stylish clothes, and you can also get a few things from the Super Combo.
- Housewares. There’s a store that sells furniture and large appliances next to the Super Combo. For smaller appliances try the Super Combo or the Mini-Super JB.
- Soccer field. Not much going on here during weekdays, but there’s occasionally a game on the weekends.
- Other Stuff. In town there’s a police station, a dentist, a children’s school, and a few small churches.
Where to get food in Sierpe
- Restaurants. There are three tourist restaurants: Kokopelli’s, Las Vegas, and Oleaje’s / Don Jorge’s, and all 3 accept credit cards. There’s also a soda (a Tico restaurant) next to the Mini-Super JB, but it’s often closed.
- Bars. Most expats go out to the tourist restaurants, which all look out over the river, unlike the one local bar. The local Bar La Esquina is a windowless place that’s seems depressing to me (but in fair disclosure I haven’t been inside).
- Groceries. The main store in town is the Super Combo (accepts credit cards, sells alcohol, pet food, and exchanges propane). Sierpe center also has the Mini-Super JB and a small vegetable shop.
- Butcher. There’s a small butcher stall next to the Mini-Super JB who is good (we’ve never had a problem with the meat quality).
- Fishmonger. On the road into Sierpe is a fishmonger whose shop is down by the Azul Estuary. Get yer fresh fish here.
- Wandering Vendors. There is a lady who pushes around a sweetbread cart, and sometimes locals sell food out of coolers in the park.
Insider Tips for Living in Sierpe
Did you know that you at the grocery stores in Sierpe you can pre-order fresh milk, sour milk, and even buy refills of Coca Cola? Or that cheese and alcohol is noticeably cheaper near the Panama / Costa Rica border.
We got more tips for staying in Sierpe in our next post. Go check out The Truth About Housesitting in Sierpe.