Go whale and dolphin watching

Humpback Whale off the coast of Costa Ballena
Humpback Whale off the coast of Costa Ballena

Many nature enthusiasts who visit Costa Rica enjoy seeing the magnificent creatures that live off the country's shores on dolphin and whale watching tours.

Costa Rica's tropical climate makes the nation a great spot for visitors to see whales and dolphins, as its warm seas are ideal for the large animals. In particular, the marine mammals enjoy the pockets of shallow and temperate waters located in specific areas just off the coast.

Where to Go

The best place to go whale watching in Costa Rica is the country's Pacific coast, as humpback whales migrate through the region between late July and November and again between December and March. Perhaps the best place to see these majestic creatures is the Osa Peninsula, located in the southern portion of Puntarenas Province. Thanks to its location in the extreme south of the country, the Osa Peninsula is visited by humpback whales migrating from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, meaning that it has a higher whale population than anywhere else in the country. Additionally, this large whale population stays near the peninsula for a long time, giving Costa Rica one of the longest whale watching seasons on the planet.

The Osa Peninsula is home to more than just humpback whales - visitors to the region can see more than 25 species of whales that either migrate through the area or live there permanently. Local species include bottlenose and spotted dolphins, which are particularly common in Drake Bay. Drake Bay is also home to a marine life center, which carries out important research and offers tours to travelers.

Other Destinations

Another South Pacific whale watching destination is Ballena National Marine Park, located just south of the city of Dominical. The underwater reserve - which was actually named for the humpback whales that swim through its waters - is particularly lively between August and October and between December and April. In addition to humpback whales, tourists can also see bottlenose dolphins, sea birds, beautiful beaches, mangrove forests and coral reefs.

Tourists on Costa Rica's Central Pacific coast may be able to see migrating humpback whales on tours operating near Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park. Further north, whales can sometimes be seen near Tambor and Papagayo, particularly near the tranquil islands that sit just off the shore.