Dolphin & Whale Watching
Last Updated: Nov 29, 2014
Humpback whale mothers give birth in the pockets of shallow temperate waters off the shores of Costa Rica while orcas and bottlenose dolphins troll for sushi. All of this and more can be seen on dolphin and whale watching excursions into Costa Rica's ocean habitats – some of the most biologically diverse marine habitats in the world.
Humpback whales regularly pass through Costa Rica’s Pacific ocean 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 extending all the way north to Cano Island. In all, over 25 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.
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 through October and December through April, visitors can explore pristine beaches, mangrove forests and coral reefs or venture out to Cano Island – one of the country's best snorkeling and diving locations as well as a theatre for humpback whale and bottlenose dolphin watching.
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.
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.
Dolphin watching tours off the coast of Puerto Viejo will lead guests down the south Caribbean coastline close to the border of Panama for a chance to see spotted and bottlenose dolphins feeding and playing in the coves around Punta Mona and Manzanillo.