Playa Barú is part of the private reserve Hacienda Barú, approx. 1 hour drive south of Quepos / Manuel Antonio. The long-stretched beach borders the tropical forest and mangrove swamps of the reserve which features an impressive variety of flora and fauna.
A marvelous, grey beach located 2 km (1.25 miles) east of the coastal street. Suitable for surfing and fishing. Those who like swimming should be aware of the strong currents.
This long-stretched, dark sandy beach is lined by coconut palm trees bordering Barú beach in the north. Due to the strong currents it is very popular with surfers and perfect for long beach walks. The lush nature offers numerous tours in the surroundings: The Nauyaca Waterfalls are one of the main attractions in the backcountry of Dominical. The river mouth of the Rio Barú is great for bird-watching.
Playa Uvita / Bahia Ballena / Playa Tortuga
Good starting point for a visit of the area are those hotels located on the Costanera Sur between the villages of Dominical and Cortes. Playa Uvita is a popular beach with numerous restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. Playa Tortuga on the other hand should rather be described as a beach of a “wild” beauty.
Bahia Ballena Marine National Park
Distance from San José: 190 km (119 miles) / about 3 hours
Opening hours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Date of foundation: February 6, 1989
Size: 5375 hectares underwater, about 150 hectares on the landside
The national marine park “Ballena” is the youngest national park and the first marine national park of Costa Rica. It protects the marine life and coastal area from Playa Uvita till Playa Piñuelas and is especially interesting for diving and snorkeling. The main attraction are the humpback whales (“ballena” means “whale” in Spanish) that come to the warm waters between January and April as well as August to October before returning into colder areas in the north. The highest possibilities to spot whales are between February and March. Other animals that might be observed are dolphins, seabirds and sea turtles.
Other attractions of the park are “El Tómbolo de Punta Uvita” (a rock formation with the shape of a whale fin that is only accessible during low tide), small islands like “Isla Ballena” and “Las Tres Hermanas” (islands with numerous animals, amongst others seabirds and iguanas) and the coral reef.
From Terraba River, which connects the biggest mangrove area of Central America to the sea, tons of micro organisms flow into the sea, another big attraction for bigger and smaller fish and their predators. There are 5 species of coral in the park (from the 18 existing ones in the west Pacific Ocean). The best time for snorkeling is during the dry season (December until March) when the water is very clear.