So little time and so much to do – however long your visit to the Costa Ballena, you’ll want to stay longer and see and do yet more. Vast stretches of solitary beaches to comb, rugged outcliffs to climb, whale and dolphin watching, stunning sunsets, sports fishing, boating, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and surfing. And on the land side of the beaches, you’ll want to hike, explore by horseback or ATV, fly over rain forests and jungle by zip-line, kayak and raft the rivers, swim beneath waterfalls, and discover and photograph the hundreds of birds, animals, and plants. In short, you will live intensely and harmoniously with nature, as busy or relaxed as you desire.
The beaches of Costa Ballena stretch between the small towns of Dominical and Ojochal. Among the beaches are Playa Dominical, Playa Roca Verde and Playa Dominicalito, close to the town of Dominical, famous for their expert surfing communities. Surrounding the town of Uvita are Playa Hermosa (Beautiful Beach), Playa Uvita and Playa Colonia. The Parque Nacional Marino Ballena includes Playa Uvita, Playa Colonia, Playa Arco, Playa Ballena, and Playa Pinuela, and finally to the south you’ll find Playa Ventanas and Playa Tortuga.
Playa Hermosa (Beautiful Beach) – Just north of Uvita, Playa Hermosa is over a mile long with few visitors for most of the year. This beach is a favorite of big city Costa Ricans that swarm this beach for the Christmas and Easter holiday seasons. Playa Hermosa lacks permanent services but the local residents sell drinks and food during the dry season.
Playa Uvita and Playa Colonia – at the base of the town of Uvita, these are good family beaches for swimming, sunbathing and beachcombing. At low tide, you can explore the peninsula that is shaped like a whale’s tail known as the “Cola de Ballena”(Whales Tail). The town has lodging, restaurants, and all the services needed for a delightful stay.
Playa Ballena (Whale Beach) is part of the Marino Ballena National Park and is an ideal place to observe migrating whales from both hemispheres. If you love to snorkel and scuba-dive, this is your beach – Costa Rica’s largest Pacific Ocean coral beach is accessible from this beach, exposing a great variety of brilliantly-colored fish and marine organisms. In May through October, Ridley and Hawksbill sea turtles come ashore to nest. Nearby restaurants provide basic meals and drinks.
Playa Pinuela is perhaps the Costa Ballena’s best swimming beach for children. The curve of the land wraps around to form a small bay, and the ocean swells are muted by coral reefs and sandbars. Its tranquil surface is a favorite of the local fishermen for launching their boats without fighting the waves. Services are available within a short driving distance.
Playa Ventanas (Windows Beach) is another calm beach for swimming and snorkeling. Local legend says that its name, Ventanas (Windows), is derived from the large caves on the point on the north end that provide see-through views of the ocean. The caves are accessible at low tide, and this beach is surely one of the most spectacularly beautiful beaches of Central America. Lodging is available in the nearby town of Ojochal.
Playa Tortuga (Turtle Beach) earns its name from the yearly nestings of sea turtles, a impressive event you will want to witness from July through January. This beach is pristine and very wide, perfect for strolling, beachcombing and sunbathing. Close by is the town of Ojochal with its excellent restaurants.
The land side of these beaches is equally impressive. There are primary and secondary rain forests, whitewater and lazy rivers, cascading waterfalls, and forested mountains that march right into the Pacific Ocean. Farther south, there are mangrove swamps along the Terraba and Sierpe Rivers where calmer waters offer kayaking and the opportunity to observe dozens of bird species, several species of monkeys, reptiles, exotic insects and the lush tropical vegetation of this unique ecosystem.
Other land-based activities include canopy tours and zip-lines, tree-climbing, rappelling, hiking, exploring by horseback and ATV, camping and rafting. You can explore sugar cane and coffee plantations, learn to make tortillas and chocolate, take yoga and Spanish classes, and shop at the farmers’ market in Uvita on Saturday mornings.