Nestled between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America, Costa Rica has dual coastlines that offer whale and dolphin enthusiasts many opportunities to observe these beloved creatures. The warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, which form the eastern border of Costa Rica, and the Pacific Ocean, which forms the western border, are a favorite of up to 25 different species of whales and dolphins. Some travel up to 5,000 miles to breed and give birth in these waters.
Costa Rica has the longest humpback whale watching season in the world. These graceful giants come to the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica from North and South America and Antarctica. From August to November and December to March, humpbacks can often be spotted in the areas of Drake Bay, Cano Island and Corcovado. Ballena National Marine Park, along the central Pacific Costa Rican Coast, was established in 1990 to protect the whales for which it was named. Ballena means whale in Spanish. Killer whales and sperm whales are also frequently spotted. Two popular places to see sperm whales are Drake Bay and Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife refuge. They are visible from the beaches. If you want a closer look, it’s wise to take a whale-watching tour.
Several dolphin species inhabit the waters of Costa Rica year-round. On the Caribbean side of the nation, bottlenose and spotted dolphins can be found near Puerto Viejo, Cahuita and Manzanillo. Bottlenose and spotted dolphins are also commonly found all along the Pacific Coast. From December to March, the spinner and common dolphin species flock to the area as well. The common dolphin species is known for its high-flying antics and is a favorite of dolphin watchers.
Many organized dolphin-sighting tours are available in the northern, central and southern areas of the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. You don’t have to take a tour to see these friendly marine mammals, however. Dolphins are often seen from the beach or while snorkeling, fishing, sailing and on other adventure excursions. Don’t expect to find a “swim with the dolphin” encounter, though, as this practice was stopped in 2006 to protect the species.
The choice of adventures in Costa Rica is vast. Costa Rica Rios has been voted one of the Best Adventure Travel Companies in the world by National Geographic Adventure. We specialize in all-inclusive adventure vacations. Contact us to help you plan your Costa Rica adventure.