Uvita is a little gem hidden in between two famous Costa Rican destinations, Dominical to the north and the Osa Peninsula and the famous Corcovado National Park to the south. To reach Uvita from Dominical you only have to drive 17 km (11 miles) south from Dominical along the Coastal Highway, and once you get there it looks like nothing special could possibly exist there.
The center of town is just a few commercial buildings, including bank offices, a big hardware store, a gas station, and some restaurants, all located along the Coastal Highway. But what hides behind this industrial looking development, just by taking any of the little dirt roads towards the ocean, is a series of beautiful beaches to enjoy the magic that oceanic wildlife has to offer.
Uvita’s Main Secret: Marino Ballena National Park
Since 1992, the national park–the first of its kind in Costa Rica and Central America–protects 171 hectares of land along 15 km of coastline and 5375 hectares of marine territory. As you can imagine, the main goal is to protect marine life, from the very fragile living reefs or coral reefs to big mammals like the Humpback whales.
There are four official entrances to the park–Uvita, Ballena, Piñuela and Colonia–each taking you to a beautiful beach destination. The Uvita entrance will take you to an amazing natural formation, a tombolo in the shape of a whale’s tale that can only be seen (and hiked) at low tide. You can also do some snorkeling around the rocky tail (flippers are not allowed).
Piñuelas is known for its calm beach and waters and is an ideal place for families to enjoy. From Ballena, one has access to a gray-sand beach (by that name) which is known for dangerous currents, and thus, not the best place for swimming. However, at low tide, you can access Playa Arco, a very small beach surrounded by cliffs that even harbors a small waterfall where you can enjoy a refreshing natural shower. Colonia beach is known as one of the safest beaches to swim, free from dangerous currents.
The park is open every day from 7 am to 4 pm, and there are amenities such as picnic tables, bathrooms, camping areas, and showers. There is no potable water inside the park, so remember to bring your own.
Uvita’s Biggest Visitor…Whales!
The waters of the national park are temporary homes for migratory Pacific Humpback Whales that look for warm waters during their native water’s winter season. From mid-December to April, the visiting whales come all the way from Alaska. Starting mid-July and until mid-November, the south pacific whales from Antarctica arrive in Costa Rica’s Pacific waters, not only to escape from the cold, but also to give birth to their calves.
In Uvita, you can easily find a whale watching tour that can attempt to get you close to these majestic mammals and hopefully enjoy a show of jumping and tail displays. Their tails are uniquely shaped and marked to each individual whale! The best time of year to see whales is September and October.
Other residents of these waters, such as bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins and turtles, usually accompany the boats that venture out in the search of whales.
Also, most of these tours will also do some bird watching around Ballena Island and the Three Sisters crags. These rock formations ascend from the ocean and host seabirds such as frigate birds. You can also snorkel around these wonderful reefs and see beautiful fish and marine landscapes.
Other Things to Do in Uvita, Costa Rica
Beaches Outside the Park
Outside the park, you can also enjoy two very different beaches. Playa Ventanas, located south from Uvita, is a small bay with lots of palm trees and offers visitors shady areas to rest in between dips. The name of the beach comes from a rock formation on the north side of the beach, which has to caves that open to the sea. Only at low tide, you can walk closer to the “windows” when there is no risk of water pushing you towards the rocks. Playa Hermosa is north of Uvita and it’s known for its surfing opportunities for both experience and newcomers to the sport. Swimming should be done with care, however, to avoid currents.
Fun at the Waterfall
If you want a refreshing dip in fresh waters, we recommend visiting Uvita Waterfall during your trip. Located opposite to the park in the mountains of Uvita, getting to the waterfall involves a short drive up a dirt road and a short hike down to the base of the fall, which can be very slippery at times so bring good shoes with you! This waterfall runs down a rocky fall that works as a slide, which you can reach by a secure and short hike (and climb) to the top. The pool is big enough to swim across if you’d like! Next, to the entrance, locals have a small restaurant that serves delicious natural juices and other food.
Fine Dining in Uvita
Just 10 Km south of Uvita is the town of Ojochal, tucked in the mountains that overlook the Pacific. This town is a secret place where hotels with very nice surroundings and very special restaurants await tourists and gastronomes that like to dine off the beaten path.
Fine dining in Ojochal is a daily thing, with a dozen very unique and intimate restaurants that offer visitors an array of options ranging from local cuisine to French to Mediterranean cuisine. Some of the restaurants need a reservation and are only open certain days of the week at night. Others do offer lunch as well.
The Weather in Uvita
As in other areas of Costa Rica’s South Pacific region, the weather in Uvita is very humid and rains can fall. From mid-December to mid-April it is mostly dry and very hot. The rainy season starts around April and the rainiest months are September and October.
Uvita is conveniently located just north of the Osa Peninsula. This destination is normally visited on day trips by our travelers that are whale-watching or want to visit the Marino Ballena National Park. We have included this destination in our Avid Traveler itinerary as well as our Remote Family & Couple’s Romantic Adventure itineraries. If you’d like to focus an itinerary on whale-watching, chance are high that you would visit the town of or the waters just off Uvita’s shore. Feel free to request a custom itinerary to create your own trip that includes a visit to Uvita.
Plan a Trip to Uvita, Costa Rica
Contact us to plan a vacation that includes some time in Uvita!