Palmar Norte and its counterpart, Palmar Sur, are located in the southernmost reaches of Puntarenas Province. The small yet bustling service town of Palmar Norte is surrounded by banana plantations and lush tropical foliage.
Palmar is an important agricultural district of Osa Canton and a gateway to the northernmost destinations on the Osa Peninsula. The small towns of Palmar Sur and Palmar Norte Costa Rica are divided by the Río Grande de Terraba River. A bridge spans the river connecting the two towns.
The region is widely known for its vast banana plantations, first established by the United Fruit Company in the early 1900s. Its fame, however, comes from the discovery of hundreds of stone spheres. Their creation dates back to pre-Colombian times and spans over 100 years.
The spheres and their mysterious origin have made Palmar one of Costa Rica’s most important archeological attractions.
Getting to Palmar Norte
Exploring Costa Rica is best done by car. The country is packed with tourist attractions. Most of which cannot be reached by bus.
Visitors that want to experience the country on their own terms and not on a tour bus should definitely rent a vehicle.
At Adobe, we have several full-service offices located across the national territory. Most visitors to Costa Rica choose to start their rental upon arrival. We have major car rental offices at both international airports. These are the San Jose International Airport and the Liberia International Airport.
The closest Adobe office to Palmar Norte is in the charming beachfront town of Playa Uvita. The drive from our office to Palmar takes about 35 minutes and is about 43 km.
Frequently asked questions about Palmar Norte
Those that visit in Palmar Norte do so for a variety of reasons. The foremost is the commercially important Palmar Sure Airport located just across the Térraba River.
The airport serves flights from the Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaria near Costa Rica’s capital San José and other national airports. Plans to expand the airport terminal and runway for international flights are underway.
What are the best things to do in Palmar Norte, Costa Rica?
Visitors should delve into the region’s fascinating past with a visit to Esferas de Piedra Park. The renowned park and archaeological museum Finca 6 features several mysterious stone spheres.
The masterfully crafted stone balls range in size from a few centimeters to over two meters in diameter. Over three hundred spheres are accounted for. They can be found as far away from Palmar as Isla Cano and central Costa Rica.
Archaeologists claim the spheres were made by the now-extint Diquis people. The formidable Diquis empire covered a vast segment of southern Costa Rica and today’s Puntarenas Sur. Tragically, the Diquis nation was wiped out following the arrival of Spanish colonizers.
No one is entirely sure why and how the stones were crafted. Some argue they were made to replicate astronomical constellations. Others claim they represent the lunar and solar cycles or were used as gifts given by Diquis nobility.
Visit the Osa Peninsula and Drake Bay
Palmar Norte is also the launching point for visitors heading to Drake Bay on the Peninsula de Osa. The remote village of Drake marks the northernmost boundary of Corcovado National Park. The massive park is renowned for its pristine natural beauty and stunning nature.
Drake Bay’s intrigue is amplified because it is only accessible by boat or plane. Visitors in Palmar Norte must drive to the town of Sierpe and board a taxi boat to Drake. The trip winds along the Sierpe River through mangrove forests and wetlands.
Recommended excursions for visitors to Palmar Norte
While you’re driving to Palmar Norte don’t miss stopping to enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Costa Ballena. Known as the Whale’s Coast, this stretch of Costa Rican beaches includes Playa Dominical, Uvita, and Ventanas, among others.
The area is also home to the Marino Ballena National Park. The extraordinary park protects both land and marine habitats. The warm, nutrient-rich waters are famed for attracting migrations of whales and other species.
Another favorite is the Extreme Adventurer Waterfall tour. The full day outing combines visits to five waterfalls. Each breathtaking fall is unique, and participants can usually swim in their pools and hike surrounding trails.
And make sure to spend time exploring the Osa Peninsula. The town of Puerto Jimenez is just over one hour from Palmar Norte. Visitors to the famed Corcovado National Park usually arrange for guides and stock up on supplies in Puerto Jimenez.
The town also services several tours into the Golfo Dulce. The pristine gulf is one of the world’s few natural fjords. Its warm waters are teaming with marine life attracting researchers and water sports enthusiasts.