Whale Watching in Costa Rica
What a sight! Viewing humpback whales vacation off the north pacific coast of Costa Rica on the Nicoya Peninsula happens only twice each year, so don’t miss out.
After voyaging several thousand miles, the whales arrive in Costa Rica along the warm shores for a holiday. There’s no better place to vacation; something all vacationers in Costa Rica will agree on. For an authentic Costa Rica holiday, we suggest combining your Blue River Costa Rica Resort & Hot Springs rainforest adventure with a whale watching tour off the Nicoya Peninsula or the north-western end of Guanacaste. Imagine yourself, whale watching in the morning and soaking in natural mineral hot springs in the afternoon!
Adding a Stay at Blue River Resort & Hot Springs, Costa Rica
Only the north side of Rincon de la Vieja, at Blue River Resort & Hot Springs, offers views of the smoking volcano crater and has blue rivers and natural mineral hot springs. Enjoy three hot springs pools, two fresh water pools with the bullet water slide; botanical gardens with other 700 varietals, fish, caiman, and turtle ponds, hummingbird sanctuary; butterfly gardens; Blue River Spa, miniature horses and donkeys; and much more. Blue River Costa Rica Resort and Hot Springs is also offers offering Eco-adventure tours for both hotel guests and for those staying elsewhere. Be prepared to enter an awe-inspiring rainforest jungle for dips into the amazing blue rivers and grand waterfalls and hot spring. Tours include horseback riding, hiking, water tubing and zip lining. There are also 1 day tours like white water rafting, whale watching, snorkeling, turtle nesting, Cano Negro Park, Palo Verde Park and more.
Spotting a Humpback from the Beach
Costa Rica’s Pacific coast offers one of the best vantage points for observing these magnificent creatures and a host of other marine dwellers. Humpbacks enjoy the calm waters on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline from the Golfo de Papagayo near Liberia, to Bahia Drake, on the north side of the Osa Peninsula.
Humpback whales are special because of the beauty and grace these large mammals display whilst traveling in groups called ‘pods’ close to viewers on the calm Pacific shoreline. The humpbacks are the cast performing in the production of a Pacific ‘water- ballet’. At center stage, the whales socialize in groups, reaching out to court mates from other pods. Male humpbacks put on a stunning aerobatic show to charm the ladies.
Humpbacks are easy to spot. An adult is about 30’ to 50’ long; black, grey or brown in color, with white patches on the underside of their flukes, bellies, and flippers. Two blow-holes are on their backs, just ahead of their dorsal fin. Their flippers are long, a third of their length. Young calves will always swim with their mothers.
Guided Whale Watching Tours
Shorter tours will last for an hour; others, can last for several hours and can include refreshments. The cost will depend on the visitor’s choices. The average cost of a tour starts at UD$20.00 per person; depending on the options selected the cost will increase accordingly.
Over the years, the number of whale-watching stations and tour centers has grown to handle the increasing number of interested spectators. Stations’ are often manned by marine biologists and other nature conservationists/ environmentalists, all eager to share their knowledge and expertise with visitors. They will explain the procedures and rules to each group so that safety and comfort are maintained.
Costa Rica’s Coast Guard keeps a watchful eye on the tour operations ensuring the safety of visitors, and whales alike. Trained Costa Rican guides conduct whale-watching tours from over 40 locations along the Pacific coast. Guides are trained to interact safely with humpbacks; guiding guests to the best locations to observing them. Each pod must be carefully approached by the tour-boat’s captain and maintain a safe distance from them, approximately 300’.
The Humpback Whale Watching Season in Costa Rica
Though marine animal sightings are common year round along Costa Rica’s northwestern corner of Guanacaste, humpbacks migrate through the region from August to October and from December to April.
The Nicoya Peninsula is not as well-known as the north Pacific in Guanacaste. These areas are also known for their dolphins, including spinner, spotted, bottlenose and common dolphins. During the migration season, humpback whales are not an uncommon sight off the coast of Papagayo, Playa del Coco, Tamarindo and other beaches.
Though going on a whale watching tour is the best option, organized dolphin and whale-watching tours are not common. Daily cruises depart from Malpaís, Santa Teresa, and Montezuma to Tortuga Island, snorkeling reefs, and scuba hotspots. Other great options are the numerous other ocean tours, like sunset sails, snorkeling excursions, that will often take a detour to popular animal zones, especially during the mating and migration season. These excursions offer the region’s best chances for spotting whales, dolphins and endangered sea turtles.
The Humpback Whale Migration to Costa Rica
Just like the other ‘two million’ visitors to Costa Rica the humbacks love the warm, peaceful, Pacific waters to relax and unwind. However its the abundance of food induces the humpback whale to return to Costa Rica. They eat krill near the shores and reproduce. Humpbacks are a common sight at National Parks near the shores and easy to fine during a whale watching tour.
Humpbacks travel over 5,000 miles from Antarctica to Costa Rica; the Arctic Circle is closer at 3,800 miles. Once here they play, mate, give birth, and enjoy the calm pristine waters on the coast. Humpback pods traveling from the northern hemisphere will meet with those coming from the southern waters; often they mate with whales from other pods and create a stronger genetic diversity. Typical of most males, they have to impress the ladies with their acrobatic maneuvers, fins slapping, and serenades.
When the humpbacks are not here, they are in one of two other places; either the northern regions of Arctic Circle, or in the southern seas of Antarctica. In either case when winter hits the pole’s they migrate to Costa Rica. Sometimes the migrating pods overlap and they peacefully coexist.