“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
Costa Rica means “Rich Coast” and no doubt, those who have had the opportunity to travel here would agree it has left the pages of their lives filled with enriching experiences. With two very different coasts along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, divided by the Central Valley and mountain ranges, the landscape is undeniably diverse. For those who have been searching for a somewhat untouched area, where they can still find all the living essentials, the Southern Pacific Zone is just that.
This region is known as Bahia Ballena or the Costa Ballena, which means “Whale Coast”, and has steadily grown to become the hottest destination in Costa Rica. It is distinguished by rainforest clothed mountains, which dramatically rise from the Pacific, the glowing red and orange sunset ocean views, and the flourishing wildlife. Stretching a 65 mile span from Quepos/Manuel Antonio to Palmar Norte this area defines diversity. The series of towns located within this coastal span are each filled with their own unique character and have their own compelling reasons to visit.
Dominical: Set along the beach, this laidback town marks the beginning of the mountains-to-the-sea topography. Known for having the most consistent surf break in Costa Rica it is a surfer’s mecca, hosting competitions throughout the year. The easy-going atmosphere is infectious to all who visit and it is home to popular restaurants, artisan shops and a lively nightlife. Nearby nature reserves, waterfalls and river activities are additional draws to the town. If you are looking to be walking distance to the beach, Dominical is the top choice.
Uvita: This seaside town is known for the Whale’s Tail sand bar and rock formation within the Marino Ballena National Marine Park. The park sees the yearly migration of humpback whales and is home to the annual Whales and Dolphins Festival. Uvita is the commercial and social center for this coastal stretch, with services such as banks, medical, dental, legal, grocery and restaurants. The weekly farmers market is a local enjoyment for both tourists and expats. The hidden beauty of Uvita includes pristine beaches, refreshing waterfalls, dynamic diving and snorkeling, adventure tours and horseback riding, all with a stunning rainforest backdrop.
Ojochal: This sleepy town is best known for its world class restaurants, offering International cuisines such as French, South Asian, Italian, German and Mediterranean. Offering basic necessities, this small community has become the top choice for quiet living. The nearby Tortuga Reserve focuses on the conservation of sea turtles which nest along the beaches of Playa Tortuga. Within this tropical setting you will find stunning sunset views, unique waterfalls and wildlife not commonly seen elsewhere.
The pristine jungle framed beaches which dot the Southern Pacific are the highlight of the area. From the secluded coves of Dominicalito and the mile long stretch of Playa Hermosa, to the undiscovered Playa Arco and the low tide caves of Playa Ventanas, the picturesque surroundings appear to have been frozen in time, untouched by civilization. The Costa Ballena is also a corridor for wildlife. Nature reserves and conservation will continue to assist the wildlife population to thrive and allow for regular enjoyment of the areas native species.
Thanks to the newly completed Costanera highway, what was once a bumpy, five hour marathon from San Jose is now a smooth and enjoyable trip. The proposed International Airport in the Palmar/Sierpe area, approximately 40 minutes south of Uvita, will allow more options for travel to the area.
It is undeniable that the natural beauty that is the Costa Ballena is enriching to the mind and soul. The amenities offered, the expat community, the friendly local people and the slow pace of life, make it an enjoyable place to visit and live. Now is the time to lose yourself in the pages of the Costa Ballena.