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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 23 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Alex Robinson

Humpback whales migrate to the Costa Rican Pacific from Antarctica and North America – to court and mate in the warm waters, later calving in the shallow seas of this marine national park. With near year-round visits, this is one of the best places to see humpbacks with their young in the Americas.

The Ballena Marine National Park protects the marine area around four small islands where the whales congregate. The islands have become a haven for other marine life; Olive Ridley and hawksbills turtles, boobies and pelicans, and dolphins are a common sight.


Price from: £50
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: 3-4 hours

Getting there & doing it

Whale watching trips leave from Uvita village – where there are spectacular beaches. For the best views choose a small boat tour from an established operator and avoid the big agencies operating out of San José. Tours last around 3 hours.

When to do it

There are two whale migrations. Antarctic pods visit July to November and whales from North America visit December to April. Turtles nest nightly between May and November.

Tours from Uvita run daily – usually a morning departure and a lunchtime departure.

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