Dolphin & Whale Watching
Last Updated: Feb 02, 2013
Eco-tourists and wildlife enthusiasts delight in Costa Rica’s amazing dolphin and whale watching tours. The country’s warm seas are home to one of the most biologically diverse marine habitats in the world. Pockets of shallow, temperate waters create the ideal ecosystem for several species of whales (the humpback being the most common), as well as bottlenose, spinner and spotted dolphins.
Humpback whales regularly pass through Costa Rica’s Pacific seas between late July and November, and again in December through March as they migrate to and from feeding and mating grounds.The best place to observe these magnificent mammals is in the south Pacific waters off the Osa Peninsula. Here, migrations from both the northern and southern hemispheres swim through the area, contributing to the longest humpback whale season in the world. These gentle giants are regularly seen along with bottlenose and spotted dolphins throughout Drake Bay, located on the western flanks of the peninsula. In all, over twenty five species of dolphins and whales either permanently reside in or pass through this region while migrating. The Vida Marina Foundation researches marine life in Drake Bay and offers some of the best dolphin and whale watching tours in the country.
Spotted dolphins and migrating humpback whales can occasionally be seen in the waters off Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Many snorkeling and sailing excursions include dolphin or whale watching as part of their itineraries.
Just south of Dominical, the small village of Uvita is home to Ballena National Marine Park. In this underwater park, named after the humpback whales that migrate here from August - October and December - April, visitors can explore pristine beaches, mangrove forests and coral reefs. Bottle-nosed dolphins, humpback whales, and nesting sea birds are frequently observed.
Protected by Bahia Ballena (Whale Bay) on the southeastern Nicoya Peninsula, the beaches of Tambor and Pochote offer occasional sightings of humpback whales. Farther north, sailing tours depart daily from Papagayo, and will take you to some of the coast’s most tranquil islands and quiet beaches. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, turtles and humpback whales.