San Isidro

Located 45 minutes from the Pacific Ocean and in the valley of the Talamanca Mountain range is the bustling city of "San Isidro del General" or "Perez Zeledon" as it is often called. The city is the largest in the South Pacific Region making it a major hub of local government and commerce. The town square centers around a large catholic church. The steeple can be seen from any direction as you drive down the winding roads leading into the city. Around the church plaza, you will find block after block of storefronts selling clothing, household goods, electronics, furniture, souvenirs and just about everything imaginable.

If you are craving fast food, you can find McDonalds and a slew of fast food establishments. There are large groceries called "Maxi Bodega" that you can load up on about anything needed for adventures into more remote parts of Puntarenas Province or Chirripo National Park if you are headed that way. There are a few movie theaters and a mall on the outskirts of the busy streets hosting a large food court and all the usual mall enticements. San Isidro is a bustling city, expect heavy traffic and crowded streets during peak hours around the church square.

The higher elevations around San Isidro offer some excellent lodges for birders or those wanting to hike or repel some of the breathtaking waterfalls found around the area. From San Isidro, you can easily take some of the back roads to get to rafting and kayaking adventures on the Savagre River or visit Chirripo National Park. There are many charming yoga retreats and eco lodges found around San Isidro that still have the conveniences of the large city.

Main Attractions / Towns

Chirripo National Park Boruca Indian Village 
Las Quebradas Biological Reserve Nauyaca Waterfall
Savegre River  

How to get to San Isidro

You can take the Inter-American Highway from San Jose, through Cartago, and into San Isidro. This route takes you over the Cerro de la Muerte or "Mountain of Death." The road is paved but feels less than wide enough for two lanes of traffic as you wind up and over the mountains in some areas. Do not tackle the road to late in the day as visibility drops to almost zero once the cloud cover and fog roll in. We recommend that you start your adventure early in the morning when cloud cover and fog is less likely. When clear, the trip is an enjoyable one, with dramatic views along the way.

If you are less daring, you can take the Coastal Route through Orotina, Jaco, Quepos and Dominical. Once you arrive in Dominical, turn left at the checkpoint. The road will take you all the way into San Isidro. It is approximately a 45 minute drive from the Dominical turnoff.

Photo Credits: AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by claire.whitehouse