Marino Ballena National Park in Uvita, Costa Rica, is the Prime Location for Whale Watching
Costa Rica is home to the longest season for whale watching in the world. In particular the Marino Ballena National Park, located on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica near the quaint village of Uvita, south of Dominical, is where you can certainly see humpback whales 8 months out of the year. A plethora of marine life can be seen along the beaches and the reef near Uvita, and throughout the waters of Marino Ballena National Park. Playful dolphins and nesting turtles are there, but by far the acrobatic humpback whale is the show stopper.
What’s so special about Marino Ballena National Park in Costa Rica? First of all, it is both a breeding and feeding ground for a variety of different whales. The most common visitors to the park are the humpback whales from both the northern and southern hemispheres, who migrate to the warm and rich waters of Marino Ballena to give birth to their young. One group visits between the months of July and October, and the other between December and March.
Secondly, Marino Ballena National Park lies in what is known as the Costa Rica Thermal Convection Dome, which is characterized by its shallow, oxygen-rich warm water layered over the top of colder water with less oxygen. This not only provides an ideal habitat for marine life, but also creates an incentive for many whales to stick close to the surface of the water, where they are much more likely to be spotted.
Lastly, the park is named, quite fittingly, because of the Punta Uvita Tombolo, or more commonly known as “the whale tail”, a sandbar that extends 1 km into the Pacific ocean that, from the air, looks exactly like a whale’s tail when the tide is out. It’s as if nature conspired to mark this as a whale sanctuary.
Whale watchers in Costa Rica are never disappointed. Costa Rica’s humpback whales are performers and have been nicknamed “Songsters of the Sea” because they sing long eerie beautiful songs.
Humpback whales in Costa Rica are acrobats as well. They use their powerful fins to flip themselves up and out of the water. Their large bodies come up gracefully and their wide tail fins are the last thing you see when they go back under the water. Then unexpectedly, they poke their heads up out of the water and spray water several feet high.
It is even possible to witness a new Humpback whale mom teaching her baby to breach or see several Humpback males compete for female attention. It is truly a magnificent show!