It’s the whale-watching season in Costa Rica! Where should I go to see them?
Costa Rica is home to many animals of all shapes and sizes that live in the lush rainforests, rugged mountaintops, vast savannas, and coastal sanctuaries. This myriad of landscapes and ecosystems condensed into this small, yet diverse country brings nature-loving travelers to enjoy themselves and their inhabitants. Some of the animals are migratory, including the majestic giants of the oceans, the Humpback Whales. It is the whale-watching season in Costa Rica right now! Where should I go to see them is the question?
Thanks to its strategic position in the world and just 11 degrees north of the equator, Costa Rica sits pretty much near the center of the world between the Arctic and Antarctica, where our favorite whales spend the summer months. As the temperatures begin to cool at the Poles, the whales embark on their globe-trotting journey searching for warmer waters. This is where Costa Rica comes into the picture and is the place to swim.
The temperate, tropical waters of Costa Rica´s Pacific coast are where the humpback whales come to during the winter, not just to escape the freezing temperatures. They make this long journey to breed, give birth, and nurture their calves to prepare them for the long swim back. While they are here, the Pacific coast comes alive with their presence, and it is an incredible sight to see! This is Mother Nature at her best. Costa Rica has front-row seats, and Poas Rental Car can take you there.
When do the Humpback Whales visit Costa Rica?
Costa Rica actually has two Whale Watching Seasons, as humpback whales from the Arctic and Antarctica come to visit at different times of the year. This means Costa Rica has the longest whale-watching season in the world thanks to the Northern and Southern Hemisphere whale’s temporary stays.
The best time to see humpback whales in Costa Rica is January, February, July, August, and September. You can see whales all along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica during those months as they breed and raise their newborns. Come prepared to see many mothers caring for their babies while learning to be a whale!
Whale Watching in Guanacaste
Guanacaste is best known for its white-sand beaches, seaside resorts, and sunny, blue skies. With easy access from the Guanacaste International Airport, beaches are just minutes away, including the world-renowned Gulf of Papagayo. Poas Rent a Car has an office at the airport, making getting to the beaches and exploring the area with ease. While a sedan will take you to many of the beaches to reach the more deserted off-the-beaten-track beaches, an Intermediate or Standard SUV will make the ride even better!
Gulf of Papagayo
During the months of July through September, humpback whales are commonly seen in the Gulf of Papagayo. These protected waters are perfect for whales as they are safe from possible predators (i.e., Orcas!), and it is the perfect nursery for taking care of newborn calves.
While there are no actual organized whale-watching tours during the season, take a catamaran or a boat tour that does morning or sunset tours around the Gulf and the coastline. During these fun experiences, you will most probably spot some whales swimming around, lifting their enormous flippers or tails. Don’t forget to look out for the playful calves too!
Whale Watching at Tamarindo, Conchal, Flamingo
In the Tamarindo area, you can do some great beach-hopping exploring the beautiful beaches. The roads between them are in good condition, and you can visit several of them on the same day in your modern Poas rent a car.
While in the area, check out the new Flamingo Marina, where more and more sailing boats and catamarans are docking. These and other boats go out on snorkeling, scuba, and dolphin tours, so whales are added to the list of activities during the whale watching season, so you get to see them too!
Whale Watching at Marino Ballena National Park at Uvita
This marine park located south of Dominical could well be the most popular spot for whale-watching tours. The drive down the coastal road is really scenic, too, so you will enjoy the journey as much as the destination. The road is hugged by a beautiful coastline with spectacular beaches and rainforest-laden hills on either side. A treat for the eyes.
The Marino Ballena National Park at Uvita was created to protect the humpback whales during their migratory visits to Costa Rica. It even has a sandbank that connects with a rock formation to create a whale’s tail at low tide. Mother Nature is at work yet again!
During the month of September, at the peak of the season, the local community and tourism companies host a Humpback Whale Festival offering shortened versions of the traditional whale watching tour, among other whale-focused activities. Many local tour operators offer Whale Watching Tours during the season, and you can leave your car close to the National Park’s entrance. The Uvita beach is a long stretch of sand with great swimming waves, so even in the off-season, it is well worth a visit.
Don’t forget to walk the Whales Tail while you are there!
Whale Watching in the Golfo Dulce
As we work our way down Costa Rica’s Pacific Ocean Road, we will arrive at the Golfo Dulce, which is bordered by the Osa Peninsula. The Golfo Dulce is one of only 4 tropical fiords in the world and is the perfect sanctuary for our favorite giants of the ocean.
Whether you are on the Golfito side of the Gulf or on the Osa Peninsula side, Whale Watching Season is enjoyable and accessible. Many of the hotels and local tour operators offer tours to observe the whales and their habits during breeding, birthing, and raising season. You will most likely spot lots of dolphins, too, which is always a treat.
Poas Rent a car can take you to all the Whale Watching hot spots in its modern fleet of vehicles and superior customer service. With offices in the two major Costa Rican airports, you will be on your way soon after landing. Will you be visiting the Whales during your road travels around Costa Rica?