Like a Hug from the Sea
If there is a place where the rainforest extends with abundance, gathering on mountaintops and reaching shores touched by blue seas rich with marine biodiversity and beaches to dream about, then Costa Rica’s South Pacific is the place. And no destination better exemplifies the South Pacific than Costa Ballena, a stretch of land encompassing kilometers of exuberant beaches, charming communities and one of the principal locations for surfing, sport fishing and whale watching. As a symbol of the region’s greatest riches, during low tide, a striking rock formation called the Tómbolo, shaped perfectly like a whale’s tail, can be observed between Playas Hermosa and Uvita. Nature Landings invites you to explore with us the attractions of this beautiful region of the Pacific.
Discovering the beaches of Costa Ballena
Small or endless, dark or light sand, with gigantic waves or soft currents and tempting in all aspects: these are the beaches of Costa Ballena. An overview of the most visited and most beautiful:
Playa Dominical is famed for being one of the best places to surf in the world. It also offers a beautiful beach, plus hotel lodging, vacation rentals and dining services located in the community going by the same name. Due to its strong currents and undertow, it is the only beach that has lifeguards on duty.
Playa Dominicalito has calm waters and places to lodge, complemented by beautiful scenery.
Playa Uvita is one of the most beautiful beaches in the region, offering the chance to trek around the illustrious “whale tail” (or “Tómbolo” in Spanish), which can bee seen only during low tide. It also has many restaurants and bars in its vicinity.
Playa Arco is a small lost paradise of waterfalls, wildlife and soft sands, ideal for lovers in search of tranquility.
Playa Ballena is located in the heart of Ballena Marine National Park, where it is often possible to walk for miles upon its endless beaches without spotting another person.
Playa Piñuelas has calm waters and marine caves that form a petite bay, ideal for kayaking and swimming. Very early in the morning, it is common to see fishermen going about their daily chores.
Playa Ventanas is a rustic beach that boasts rock formations with huge caves that may be explored during low tide. It has a small bay, perfect for swimming.
Playa Tortuga boasts gray sands ideal for long walks that are enriched by panoramic views and a sunset that will leave you speechless. The beach is part of the Térraba river mouth, and during September and October different species of marine turtles go there to lay their eggs.
Climate: The temperature varies depending on the altitude, oscillating between 27.3°C (70.8°F) in the mountains and 27.6°C (87.2°F) on the coasts. Average Rainfall: 150 inches. May to November is considered the rainy season and December to April, the dry season.
Communities: Ojochal, Uvita y Dominical.
How to get There: NatureAir will take you via its 45-minute flight from San José to Palmar Sur. From there you can take private transportation to your chosen hotel (driving time is approximately 30 minutes from the air strip to any of the region’s hotels), or you may opt to rent a car in the establishment of your choice.
Places to stay in Costa Ballena: Cuna del Ángel, Cristal Ballena, Villas Río Mar, Hotel Hacienda Barú and National Wildlife Refuge, La Cusinga, Finca Bavaria, Villas Gaia, Diuwak and Domilocos.
Recommended restaurants: Palapa (Cuna del Ángel), Exotic (Ojochal), El Cristal (Cristal Ballena), Marino Ballena, La Parcela, Cocunut Spicy and Confusione (Dominical).
A Taste of Thailand in Costa Rica’s South Pacific
An inviting atmosphere, personalized service and an exquisite menu are the three key elements of a good restaurant. Coconut Spicy has all three and then some. Located on the shores of the Barú River, at Playa Dominical, no one would suspect that, in this town of surfers and nature lovers, you would also be able to find the best Thai and Hindi gastronomy, but it’s true. Eugenio and Paul Millard, a Costa Rican and an Englishman, are the masterminds responsible for flooding this small region of Costa Rica’s South Pacific with the flavors and intense aromas of the Orient, demonstrating that Asian spice can harmonize perfectly with the exuberant tropics.
We recommend the Masamán, a plate originally from the southern Muslim region of Thailand that reflects the Hindi influence of potatoes and nuts as key ingredients, in this case exquisitely accompanied by beef, chicken or lamb. Try it and you will not be disappointed. For more information, please call 834-8103, 829-8397 or 787-0073. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Sunday for dinner.