The stretch of the South Pacific Costa Rica coastline from Dominical to Ojochal, known as the Costa Ballena, is swiftly becoming one of the hottest destinations in Costa Rica. The South Pacific Coast is a remote area with pristine beaches, diverse wildlife, and untouched rainforest. If you want an untouched beach experience without all the stress of a busy tourist destination, the South Pacific might be just what you’re looking for.
The area has only a few hotel options because of laws restricting coastline development in an effort to protect the natural environment. The South Pacific Coast has managed to remain an off the beaten path destination. The region offers a quiet solitude in an untouched tropical location.
Marino Ballena National Park
Marino Ballena National Park protects 270 acres of land and 13,300 acres of ocean – primarily to protect a coral reef and the migrating whales that gather offshore from December to April. One of the biggest draws has to be watching humpback whales that frequent the coast, often getting close enough to boats to be touched! Be sure to visit Ballena Beach, located in the heart of Marino Ballena National Park. Arco Beach is located directly next to Ballena Beach, but is only accessible at low tide. Walk along this seemingly endless sand beach without passing another human being. Ballena Beach requires an access fee.
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Shaped like a whale’s tail, Uvita is a popular beach with a “whale’s tail” sandbar that extends several hundred yards into the ocean. The 2 1/2 mile sandy beach is located at the entrance of Ballena National Marine Park. Uvita Beach is the perfect place to relax in a hammock – with only the crashing waves as background noise. It is the only spot in the area where you can snorkel from shore. So be sure to bring snorkel gear! The area is also popular among birdwatchers, as well as whale and dolphin watchers.
About 30 minutes south of Quepos is the stunning beach town of Dominical, where surfing is the name of the game! Dominical Beach has the most consistent waves in Costa Rica, with heights rarely dropping below waist-level. There are a number of quality lefts, rights, and barrels, making this the focal point for experienced surfers in the area. This area has a stretch of seemingly countless beaches, each one ready for a traveler to explore!
Hermosa Beach (translate to the beautiful beach) sits between Dominical Beach and Uvita Beach. Go boogie boarding, surf, walk the grey-brown sand beach, or watch the sunset over the Pacific. The waves at Hermosa are a bit calmer than Dominical so they may be more suitable for intermediate surfers. The lush forest and mountains in view make this beach exceptionally beautiful.
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The Nauyaca Waterfalls are two tiers of waterfalls in the rainforest about a 20-minute drive from Dominical. The falls are about 200 feet tall in total with a large swimming pool at the base of the lower falls. There are also other smaller pools of water where visitors can swim. The falls can be accessed on foot or on horseback (or a combination of both) along a well-maintained hiking trail. It is 2.5 miles in and 2.5 miles out (roughly a 1-hour hike in each direction).
The quiet little town of Ojochal is the up-and-coming culinary capital of Costa Rica. There are a variety of fine dining, organic, and fusion establishments with culinary creations from around the world! Aside from delicious cuisine, there is not too much happening in Ojochal. So if you’re looking for a quiet hideaway in a pristine jungle town with the best in culinary creations, Ojochal is for you.
Corcovado National Park
Situated on the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park is one of the last remaining lowland tropical rainforests in the world. Despite its size, the Osa Peninsula holds 4% of the world’s biodiversity. From the South Pacific Coast, full day excursions to Corcovado National Park can be arranged. Travel by boat roughly 1 1/2 hours to San Pedrillo Ranger Station looking for dolphins, whales, and marine life along the way. When you arrive at the station, a professional naturalist guide will lead you along rainforest trails in search of sloths, coatis, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white-faced monkeys, tapirs, and more. On the trails, you may even encounter a hidden waterfall!
Related Article: A Guide To Visiting Corcovado National Park
Cano Island Biological Reserve
Cano Island Biological Reserve lies about 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) off Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. With over 19 coral species off its coast, Cano Island is especially popular among snorkelers and divers. Take a 1 1/2 hour boat ride to the island looking for dolphins, whales, and turtles along the way before touching down off the coast of Cano Island. Spend the day exploring the healthy reef, colorful marine life, and picturesque beaches.
Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands
The Terraba Sierpe Wetlands are the largest in Costa Rica. They are home to a multitude of aquatic birds, reptiles, fish, and mammals. All three species of Costa Rican monkeys can be seen here: howler, spider, and white-faced. Other animals that can be found here include sea turtles, Scarlet Macaws, cranes, caimans, crocodiles, and iguanas. Sharks also utilize the river mouths as breeding grounds. The area is also known among archeologists for the indigenous people that once lived here. Kayaking tours can be arranged here from many South Pacific hotels.
Costa Ballena Travel FAQ:
- Isolated, Pristine Rainforest Beaches
- Marino Ballena National Park: Whale’s Tail
- Nauyaca Waterfalls
- Cano Island Biological Reserve
- Corcovado National Park
- Marine Life
- Whale & Dolphin Watching
- Sea Cave Kayaking
- Scuba & Snorkeling
- Corcovado National Park Hike
- Snorkeling or Scuba Diving Tour of Cano Island
- Sport Fishing
- Mangrove Boat Tour
- Whale and Dolphin Boat Tour