Costa Rica has garnered numerous accolades for its earth-friendly policies, pristine beaches and incredible biodiversity. 2016 is shaping up to be another banner year for this popular eco-tourism haven. According to a recent article in National Geographic magazine, Costa Ricaâ€™s Bahia Ballena (Whale Bay) is among the worldâ€™s top ten destinations for dolphin and whale watching.
Bahia Ballena scores 7thÂ place on the list
The lovely Bahia Ballena, located on the southern Pacific coast,Â is one of the planetâ€™s crucial habitats for the humpback back whale, which migrates twice a year to the bayâ€™s warm waters to mate and calve. Bahia Ballena was ranked seventh for whale and dolphin sighting by the venerable publication, which added that manta rays, sea turtles, bottle-nose dolphins and other marine species also enjoy protection in the sanctuary of Ballena National Marine Park. Australiaâ€™s Hervey Bay, the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina and South Africaâ€™s Hermanus also made the list for top whale watching locales.
Costa RicaÂ whale-watchingÂ seasonÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Seeing a 45-foot whale breach in the ocean with a tremendous splash is on a fair number of bucket lists. Travelers to Costa Rica are especially fortunate in that whale season is happening virtually year-round. In Bahia Ballena, humpback whales are frequently spotted plying the shallower coastal waters from December to the end of April and again from July through September.Â Â Powerful swimmers, humpbacks can weigh more than 40 tons and are easily recognized by their long pectoral fins and distinctive knobby heads. Their entertaining surface displays make them a superstar in theÂ whale-watchingÂ community, though scientists arenâ€™t sure what motivates breaching. Some speculate the aerial twirls are a form of communication or a means of marking territory, while others say breaching is nothing more than play.
Bahia Ballena lies just south of Dominical and encompasses a string of uncrowded yet breathtaking beaches, including Uvita. While the area is easily accessed by car, bus or plane, it has remained relatively tranquil and undeveloped. If youâ€™re looking for a gorgeous beach to dig your toes in soft sand, enjoy a littleÂ surfing, andÂ watch one of Mother Natureâ€™s most incredible marine mammals, add this spot to your Costa Rica vacation itinerary.Â Â Boat tours depart daily during peakÂ whale-breedingÂ months, and afford ample opportunity to see playful dolphins and humpbacks doing what they do best. In addition, travelers to the Dominical region can also book everything from zip-line andÂ horseback-ridingÂ tours to private yoga lessons.