Costa Rica Travel – Most first-time visitors to Costa Rica only make it as far south as Manuel Antonio National Park, with a few of the more intrepid souls possibly venturing to the Caribbean coastline. With countless beautiful beaches and natural attractions in the Northern Zone (all of which are closer to the country’s two international airports), this itinerary makes a lot of sense for many.
Unfortunately, travelers who choose to stick to these destinations north of Manuel Antonio National Park are missing out on our favorite region in all of Costa Rica: The Southern Zone.
Costa Rica’s Southern Zone comprises a large area stretching from Dominical Beach down to the Osa Peninsula. In many ways the region is less developed than the other more popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica such as Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula. Featuring countless pristine beaches and dense jungles, the Southern Zone is simply begging for exploration.
And while there are countless hidden gems in the Southern Zone, one of the most convenient places to stay is Uvita. This small town boasts a handful of restaurants and hotels, but it’s the central location that makes it an ideal base for exploring the surrounding natural attractions.
Whether it’s waterfalls, wildlife or simply whiling the day away in a hammock, you won’t have any shortage of entertainment. Ready to start exploring? Here are a few of our favorite things to do in and around Uvita, Costa Rica:
1. Horseback Riding
If you’ve ever dreamed of riding a horse on the beach at sunset, then this is your place to finally do it. Rancho La Merced offers horseback riding expeditions through the jungle and on the pristine beaches around Uvita. Perfect for enjoying the gorgeous scenery as well as searching for monkeys, birds and other critters.
2. Visit The Whale’s Tail Beach (Playa Ballena)
This unique beach is named for its uncanny resemblance to a whale’s tail during low tide. The best way to appreciate the view is from above — either during an Ultralight Tour or from one of the many hotels and restaurants nestled in the hills above. Alternatively, simply enjoy a walk along the expansive and remote coastline.
3. Go Whale and Dolphin Watching
Speaking of whales, Uvita is part of the Costa Ballena, a stretch of coastline that not only looks like a whale’s tail, but has numerous groups of whales migrating just off the coast. Humpbacks are among the most common, and a boat trip in the Ballena Marine National Park offers the opportunity to get unparalleled views of the magnificent creatures. Dolphins are also a common sight during any boating adventure.
Costa Rica is known for its surf and yoga schools, and Uvita is no exception. As a bonus, this happens to be a particularly good stretch of coastline for families and beginners. The Bodhi Surf School in Uvita receives fantastic reviews. For more advanced surfers, drive a few miles north to Dominical — a mecca that attracts surfers from around the world.
5. Experience A Canopy Tour
No visit to Costa Rica is complete without zip lining, or a canopy tour. While it’s likely you won’t spot a ton of animals, soaring through the trees is a fun way to get a true perspective of the dense canopy forest. Osa Canopy Tour isn’t far from Uvita and is one of the best in the area.
6. Visit The Waterfalls
If you love waterfalls, then you’ve come to the right place. There are numerous cataracts to visit in the region, so you’ll likely have to pick and choose. About a thirty-minute drive from Uvita are the spectacular Nauyaca Waterfalls, only accessible via horseback or a long hike — and our personal favorite option. The small pool for swimming at the base offers a tranquil setting in which to cool off after a long and sweaty hike.
7. Take a Day Trip To Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park, home to some two percent of the world’s biodiversity, certainly warrants longer than a day trip. However, if you’re traveling on a time crunch, don’t miss the opportunity to take a day trip from Uvita. Tours depart at 7 a.m. and include four hours of guided hiking in the National Park.
8. Snorkeling at Cano Island
Another excellent day trip and alternative to hiking through Corcovado is a snorkeling adventure to Cano Island. Here you’ll find some of the best snorkeling in all of Costa Rica, complete with sea turtles, dolphins, stingrays, manta rays, moray eels, barracudas and more.
9. Explore The Terraba Sierpe Mangroves
Explore 30,000-plus hectares of wetland forest reserve in this system of swamp, mangroves, rivers and lagoons known for its excellent birding and unique wildlife. Kayaking and boat tours depart from the Uvita area.
These are just a few of our favorite reasons to try Uvita on your next visit to Costa Rica. With countless more secluded beaches, top-notch restaurants and adventure activities, it’s only the start of what is possible on your vacation to the Southern Zone.
By A CRUISING COUPLE , Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple – adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog, http://acruisingcouple.com