Early Plans for Palmar Sur International Airport

The vast wilderness of Costa Rica’s Southern Zone has been the destination of choice for travelers itching to get off the tourist trail, and into the heart of the country’s most beautiful and unspoiled terrain. Former President Oscar Arias anticipated the potential of this region and made plans for a new international airport near Palmar Sur, which was originally slated to be completed in 2010. Government officials selected the site for its strategic location between the towns of Sierpe and Palmar Sur, just off the Inter-American Highway.

Airport Will Accommodate More Travelers

The new Southern Zone international airport is an estimated $60 million project, and will allow more tourists to access the area’s popular attractions including Corcovado National Park, the Golfo Dulce and Drake Bay. Airport construction is planned in two phases, with initial plans for a runway that can facilitate 50-passenger planes. As early as 2016, expansion plans include a 10,000-foot-long runway capable of receiving an A-380 Airbus – one of the world’s largest commercial aircraft seating more than 850 passengers. Travelers who fly into the new international terminal will be heading to Drake Bay and the western Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park and the Costa Ballena.

Gateway to the Osa Peninsula

Construction of the new airport has been deemed of “national importance” by current Costa Rica President, Laura Chinchilla, who believes the international terminal will create more jobs and bolster the local economy. Once completed, the Southern Zone project will be the country’s third international airport, bringing new development to the area. The site for the airport is in the Valle de Diquis: mid-way between Palmar and the tranquil riverside hamlet of Sierpe, which is the gateway to Central America’s largest mangrove forests and Drake Bay.

Benefits of New Airport

At present, travelers who want to visit the Osa Peninsula or Costa Ballena must fly into San Jose (SJO) and make their way down the coast via rental car, shuttle transfer, bus or domestic flight. While infrastructure has greatly improved with the paving of the Costa Sur Highway, this still requires several hours of travel. The new airport would help tourists avoid lost vacation time and the higher costs associated with connecting flights in and out of SJO. Currently, both Nature Air and SANSA – Costa Rica’s regional airlines – offer daily flights to the small airstrips in Drake Bay and Palmar Sur.