Costa Rica’s rainy South Pacific comprises all that just south of the capital, San José, towards Panama’s border, and the land west of the Talamanca mountain range down to the Pacific coast. With few access points, including the Pan-American Highway, it remains a relatively remote and unvisited region. Though miles of remote coastline giving way to stunning views and lush rainforests thriving with life all find this among the country’s most captivating regions.
Adventure is plentiful in the area: hiking, birdwatching, horseback riding and wildlife watching among the activities primarily enjoyed, in addition to zip-lining, waterfall rappelling, whitewater rafting, diving, snorkeling, fishing, surfing, sea kayaking and swimming.
The beautiful and biodiverse Osa Peninsula and Golfo Dulce are perhaps the crowning jewels of the area, while south of Dominical, easily accessible Bahía Ballena is where you will find the former island of Uvita, whose thin land bridge connecting it to the mainland resembles a whale’s tail. The tiny hamlet has farms, houses, small shops, and a handful of good accommodation and dining options. Playa Uvita’s white-sand beach is ideal for surfing, swimming, sportfishing, scuba diving and snorkeling, whale- and dolphin- spotting, horseback riding and hiking, exploring some spectacular nearby waterfalls, and a wide assortment of tours – both on the water and further inland, including trips around the bay and to Isla del Caño. Around May to October, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill sea turtles come ashore to nest.
Punta Uvita serves as the base for visitors to Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, as well as the better located though less developed hamlet of Bahía, about a mile further south. Established in 1990, the reserve protects Punta Uvita, and ocean and coastline south of Uvita containing one of the Pacific coast’s largest, last remaining coral reefs. In addition to nesting sea turtles, the reserve is a great place to watch Humpback whales that migrate to its waters from the Artic and Antarctica, and less frequently, dolphins. Snorkeling and diving are also great ways to admire the park’s abundant marine life.
Some 300 miles offshore, remote Isla del Coco is also found in the South Pacific region, its natural park of the same name protecting some 9 square miles of pristine natural wilderness. Scuba diving the area’s waters reveals manta rays, hammerheads and whale sharks.