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Just 17km south of Dominical is Playa Uvita, a village with a laid-back vibe growing in popularity. Located along the Costa Ballena coastline, Playa Uvita has plenty to offer as a travel destination with its marine reserve, Marino Ballena National Park, coastal mountains, beautiful beaches such as the pristine Playa Uvita, and nearby waterfalls.

Costa Ballena, (literally translated as Whale Coast), is located in Southern Costa Rica, along Coastal Highway 34 (Costanera Sur), about an hour south of the popular destination of Manuel Antonio.

Our Vlog Exploring Punta Uvita, Costa Rica (Part 1)

Uvita, Costa Rica
Coastline in Uvita, Costa Rica

The rugged shoreline stretches from Playa Dominical to Ojochal and features miles of unspoiled nature.

Uvita is a little, hidden gem adding unique character to the region and is definitely worth a spot on your Costa Rica travel plan.

How to Get to Uvita, Costa Rica? 

The easiest way to get to Uvita is by driving. The town is located about 3.5 hours south of San Jose on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

Public transportation to Uvita is limited, but it is possible to get to the area without a car if you do not plan on driving in Costa Rica. Head over to Bookaway, our recommended transportation aggregator, to search for busses, shuttles, and other transportation options to and from Uvita. 

Things to do in Uvita, Costa Rica

1. Stroll Through the Quiet Town of Uvita, Costa Rica 

Playa Uvita is an ideal destination for a less crowded experience. This quiet little town is not overrun with tourism, it’s unspoilt, very tranquil, and representative of many other small towns in Costa Rica.

Colourful homes in Uvita. Photo by dconvertini via Flickr CC
Colourful homes in Uvita. Photo by dconvertini via Flickr CC

The town centre revolves around 1-2 streets with a few shops, a visitors centre, a few eating establishments, and souvenir shops. A short distance from the entrance to Playa Uvita you’ll find a small farmers’ market. It’s a great spot to soak up the atmosphere, meet the locals, and can buy local produce such as honey, fruit and vegetables, and home-cooked foods.

2. Visit Marina Ballena National Park

The Marina Ballena National Park is definitely one of the top things to do while staying in Punta Uvita Costa Rica. This marine reserve protects more than 13,000 acres of ocean and 9 miles of coastline. With mangrove forests, coral reefs, and wild beaches, it’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle.

There are four beaches in the park, including Playa Uvita. As they are protected they are pretty serene, secluded, and quiet. 

One of the most popular activities within the Ballena National Marine Park is snorkelling by the coral reef. There are about 18 species, making it one of the largest coral colonies in Costa Rica.

Playa Uvita, Costa Rica
Playa Uvita, Costa Rica

3. Walk Along Punta Uvita Costa Rica

Costa Ballena is Spanish for ‘Whale Coast’ and refers to remarkable sand and rock formation which resembles a whale’s tail. It’s also the perfect spot in the Marino Ballena National Park to watch the humpback whales. You can take a walk along the Punta Uvita Costa Rica during low tide, for approximately 3 hours. Be sure to check the tide chart as the passage will be submerged at high tide!

Things to do in Punta Uvita, Marina Ballena National Park, view from Playa Uvita, Puntarenas
Marina Ballena National Park, view from Playa Uvita, Puntarenas

4. Go Whale Watching 

The Whale’s Tail formation is not the only reason why this region bears the name of Costa Ballena. In fact, the name actually stems from the fact that between the months of December and April, majestic Humpback Whales migrate through the waters of Costa Ballena. A number of companies in town run Whale Watching tours, giving you an opportunity to see these gentle giants in their natural environment.

December to April coincides with Costa Rica’s dry season, which can be pretty busy and the weather hot, but if you want to catch sight of these magnificent creatures it will be the best time to visit Costa Rica.

Things to do in Punta Uvita, Humpback Whale spotted in Costa Ballena. Puntarenas. Costa Rica
Humpback Whale spotted in Costa Ballena. Photo via Wikipedia

5. Relax with Beach Hopping

Playa Uvita is arguably the most beautiful beach in the region but it’s not just Playa Uvita that attracts visitors to this area. There are 5 other beaches worth checking out, including Playa Ventanas, Playa Pinuela, and Playa Hermosa. 

Playa Ventanas was our favourite thanks to the unique caves that surround its shores. The beach wasn’t suitable for swimming when we visited due to bad rip tides, but it offered a perfect setting for a day of hanging out in a hammock.

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

Things to do in Punta Uvita, Playa Ventanas, Costa Rica
Playa Ventanas, Uvita, Costa Ballena

READ NEXT: Best Beaches in Costa Rica

6. Visit Uvita Waterfall

Uvita Waterfall is a local gem, found on a private property located about 5 mins from Uvita town centre. It takes less than 5 mins to descend to the waterfall from the parking lot of the restaurant and next thing you know, you are sliding into the refreshing pool at the base of a gushing waterfall. Go mid-week and you’ll most likely have the waterfall all to yourself!

Things to do in Punta Uvita, Uvita Waterfall, Costa Ballena. Costa Rica
Uvita Waterfall, Costa Ballena

7. Feel Alive at Envision Festival

Envision Festival, an art, spirituality, yoga, music, and dance festival that has been drawing in crowds to Uvita for over 5 years. 

We learned about it from the manager at the Oxygen Jungle Villas and upon hearing what the festival was all about, we immediately added it to our bucket list! The festival takes place at the end of February on Rancho La Merced and offers a full weekend of music, art, workshops, and multicultural performances.

Yoga Retreats in Costa Rica: People doing yoga at Envision Festival
Yoga class at Envision Festival. Photo via Envision Festival website

Best Hotels in Uvita, Costa Rica

The options for hotels in Uvita Costa Rica are pretty good, you have a range of hostels for those on a budget, luxury hotels for the big spenders and a variety of eco-lodges for the environmentally-conscious travelers.

La Cusinga Eco Lodge

La Cusinga Eco Lodge is a great option for the latter. It offers rustic cabins made with sustainably-harvested wood and local materials, combining luxury and eco-friendly perfectly.

Oxygen Jungle Villas

We can personally recommend the Oxygen Jungle Villas, one of the most unique hotels Uvita Costa Rica has to offer. Set in the lush jungle, the hotel offered private waterfall and hiking trails, an infinity pool overlooking the town, and secluded all-glass villas with an open-air veranda where we loved spending our mornings with tea in hand.

Things to do in Punta Uvita, enjoying jungle views with morning tea. Oxygen Jungle Villas, Uvita
Enjoying jungle views with our morning tea at the Oxygen Jungle Villas in Uvita
Max & Oksana in Infinity Pool at Oxygen Jungle Villas in Uvita, Costa Rica
Enjoying the views of Uvita at Oxygen Jungle Villas, Puntarenas

Have you ever visited Playa Uvita? What other tips would you give to travelers considering a trip to this part of Costa Rica?

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