Whale watching season is here

Written by Angie Vargas
June 20, 2015

Whale watching

Between May and June begins the whale watching season in many parts of the world, and Costa Rica is no exception. These incredible creatures come to our Pacific Coast looking for warm waters to mate and calve.

One of the main points where whales can be spotted in Costa Rica is in Bahia Ballena (Whale Bay), in the South Pacific of the country. In fact, National Geographic named this place as one of the 10 best places in the world for whale watching , along with other important destinations as Hervey Bay in Australia and Monterey Bay in the United States.

According to the article of this renowned magazine, this bay is one of the most important habitats of humpback whales and that’s the reason why Costa Rica’s government created there the Marino Ballena National Park, in order to protect this specie and some other water species such as dolphins, stingrays, turtles and several species of sharks.

Here are some important details to take advantage of the coming whale watching season:


The humpback whale migrates to Bahia Ballena twice a year: from late December to late April, and from July to September. That’s the reason why every year, in September, is celebrated in this National Park the National Festival of Whales and Dolphins. During two weekends people can book whale watching expeditions and enjoy a lot of activities in the National Park surroundings with any Costa Rica packages.

Besides, people can have the chance to visit one of the main attractions of the Park: the Whale Tail. This is a rocky and sandy natural formation, shaped by the sedimentation carried by the tides. The Whale Tail can only be visited during the low tide, since at high tide is covered by the water. Of course the entire shape of the tail can only be seen from the air.

Of course, this National Park can be visited all year round; and the whale watching expeditions are also available before and after this National Festival. From July to September, the chances to see humpback whales in this area is really high.


Bahia Ballena, where the Marino Ballena National Park is located, it’s about 3 hours away from Juan Santamaria Airport. A beautiful road trip will take you from San José city to this beautiful beach area.

Here, there are lovely hotels where you can stay. From luxury boutique hotels to more budget lodges, in the area there are plenty of options for everybody. Staying here 2 nights is recommended, in order to visit other nearby attractions such as Nauyaca Waterfalls or simply relax in one of the beautiful beaches around.

But this is not the only way to visit this region, if you are staying in the popular area of Manuel Antonio, you can book a one day tour to Bahia Ballena to experience a whale watching expedition. From Manuel Antonio, a road trip of 1 hour approximately will take you directly to Marino Ballena National Park.

And, to get to Manuel Antonio from San José you can make a road trip of 3 hours, or you can take a local flight of 25 minutes approximately.

Where else you can see whales in Costa Rica?

Bahia Ballena is not the only place in Costa Rica where you can spot whales. Drake Bay, also in the South Pacific of the country, is another good point for this activity. In this place, whales from both poles meet up there for mating, giving birth and for looking after their young.

The whale season here is almost the same as in Bahia Ballena, from late August to late November. This means that you can combine both destinations and have more chances to see these beautiful creatures.

Also, there are some whales that visit the dome located in Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf) to feed and reproduce. That’s the case of the Blue Whale, the biggest animal on earth. But the species that visit this region, only pass through the country and are deep water dwellers, which making it harder that can be seen.

Most of the lodges of these areas offer whale watching tours combined with dolphin watching, snorkeling time or fishing.

The weather during whale watching season

It’s very important to know that rainy season in Costa Rica goes from May to November. This means that during the whale watching season, is also rainy season. But that’s good news! because it means that most of the hotels will have lower rates and promotions, due to the low season.

You can take advantage of these promotions during your Costa Rica vacations and also enjoy of one of the most beautiful spectacles of nature if you decide to visit the country during the Green Season.

Travel tip: It’s very important to take into account that sea sickness can also be present in these kind of tours. It’s very important that you take with you some medicines in case you start feeling dizzy or nauseated, especially when traveling with children.

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