Ocean Ranch Park is a privately owned activity area that spans 850 acres. It is located beside Jaco in a private river valley on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The park offers single or multi-activity packages that may consist of ziplines, waterfall rappelling, horseback riding, hiking, bird watching, and ATV tours, as well as some off site tours on the water. Like many similar parks, it is branded as an “eco adventure”, but really that means little in terms of sustainability and ethical practices. It is simply the term used for outdoor or nature adventures throughout the world today.
Ocean Ranch Park is located in Quebrada Amarilla, in the province of Puntarenas, on the mid-Pacific west coast of Costa Rica. It is very easy to access, as it sits just 2km away from the coastal route 34 (Carretera Pacifica Fernandez Oreamuno — Costanera Sur). Coastal route 34 is an easy drive, which consists of a one-lane highway and has easy bus access.
By car, it is located roughly:
- 15 Minutes South of Jaco
- 45 Minutes North of Manuel Antonio
- 85 Minutes West of San Jose
You can get there by:
Car: Parking is available at the ranch and it is free and easily located in front of the main entrance.
Taxi: If you don’t own a car or have not rented one, you can take a taxi to the ranch, though this may be a pricey option depending on where you are coming from.
Ranch Shuttle: If you are staying in the town of Jaco, which is the closest town to the park, or surrounding areas, then the ranch does provide a shuttle service at an additional cost.
Bus: You can use the Puntarenas - Jaco - Quepos, which goes along coastal route 34 and can bring you here from any location along the coast as far as Puntarenas in the north and Quepos in the south. However, a bus may be a more challenging option if you are coming from far away, as you have to factor in how much time the ride will take from your destination to the ranch and how much time you wish to stay at the park. Secondly, you also have to factor in that the bus goes directly along the coastal route and the ranch is located 2km inland from the route, which means that you either have to walk or arrange for the ranch to pick you up where the bus drops you off. The roadway from the coastal route to the ranch is unpaved, dusty and uninhabited with lots of sun exposure, which may make it a challenging walk given the area’s hot and humid climate.
Best Time to Visit
It is best to do tours and excursions at the ranch during the dry season so that rain does not interfere with your activities. If you are planning to do a single activity or a half-day package, then it is better to book yourself in for the morning to enjoy the activities during the cooler part of the day for greater comfort and at the time when the wildlife is most active.
Buying Activity Tours & Cost
Prices range depending on what activity or package you get. There are savings, as expected, for multi-activity packages. For the most up-to-date pricing, it is best to consult the Ocean Ranch Park website.
Activity tours can be booked and paid directly online on their website, or from one of the many tour operators in Jaco. Online payments can consist of the full amount or deposit only, and aside from the activity, the ranch offers various add-ons at additional costs, like shuttle transportation and lunch.
What to Bring
What you will need to bring will depend on how long you are planning on staying in the park, your particular needs, such as if you have young children or elderly persons in your group, and what activity you are doing. In general, you should definitely bring:
- Snacks and/or a bagged lunch, unless you are buying a lunch as part of your activity package.
- Proper sun cover, such as hats and non-toxic sunscreen
- Proper insect cover, depending on the time of year you go. During the dry season, insects are not a problem. Light, loose, long-sleeved clothing is always recommended and/or a safe and effective insect repellent.
- Smartphone/Camera, to document your trip.
- Binoculars, if you are doing a hike or bird watching tour.
- Protective water cover for your smartphone/camera, if you are doing an activity that involves water and you are planning on using your electronic device during it.
- A small backpack that you can secure on your body and securely stow any items you are bringing in properly zippered compartments so that you do not lose them or damage them during activities like ziplining or rappelling.
- Secure and comfortable footwear in order to safely participate in your activities. Avoid flip flops or any loose shoes that may fall off during zipling or pose a safety hazard during more strenuous activities.
What Not to Bring
- Anything that will generate garbage. If you are bringing your own food and drinks, use reusable containers.
- Anything that would pose a danger to the environment, animals or other visitors.
Your attire should be casual and comfortable and also take into consideration your chosen activities.
My Personal Experience
We booked an early day tour and took the bus from nearby Esterillos Oeste, which took about 15 minutes. We considered walking the roadway to the ranch, but did book the shuttle to pick us up from the bus stop, and were glad we did, as the walk would not have been pleasant given the dusty dirt road and hot sun, even in the morning hours. When we got to the park, we were asked to fill out and sign waivers, which is typical for places like this and basically makes you acknowledge that these can be dangerous activities and you take full responsibility for yourself.
We were very fortunate that it was not a busy day (we went on a Thursday morning) where there was only one other couple in our tour group, so we felt like we got very personal treatment. Nothing was rushed and nothing felt overwhelming due to trying to do the activities with too many people.
We got the package that included the waterfall zipline tour and the waterfall rappel tour. We didn’t see a point in the hike, given that we were taking ourselves to nearby parks and doing hiking for free or nominal amounts, while their hike felt quite overpriced. We also did not do the ATV tour, as we do not enjoy loud and dirty activities that generate more fossil fuels. And as another note, I highly do not recommend the horseback tour, which is strenuous and abusive to the horses, and completely unnecessary. For animal welfare and ethical reasons, I cannot wait for the day when all these establishments stop the cruel practices of enslaving animals for our supposed pleasure.
With regards to the zipline tour, it was fantastic and exhilarating and surpassed our expectations for how fun it was. This was our first time ever zipling and we were hooked. There were various lines to do, some shorter, some longer, many with incredible views and breathtaking excitement.
The staff guides that we had were very professional and safety-oriented and it made the activity that much better. My only desire is that it all lasted longer; it would have been awesome to go through all the circuit lines a second time.
With regards to the waterfall rappelling, this was also a first for us both and we had no idea what to expect. The activity was pleasantly challenging and exciting, but it is one that also demands a lot of caution to avoid any slips and injuries.
The time of year that it is done will make it harder or easier. During the dry season, which is when we were there, the waterfall was a narrow trickle and it was already challenging. I cannot imagine what it is like when the waterfall is in full swing during the wet season.
At the end of the activity tour, we were guided to the dining rancho where we were served fresh pineapple and had a chance to relax a little on the nice grounds.
Then a truck took us back to the main entrance, and the shuttle took us back out.
All in all, it was a fun half day and we were pleased with the overall operations, safety, and organization of the ranch and staff during our visit.