In recent times the arrival of the humpback whale to our pacific coast has received a lot of attention. Even though the whales have always been there, now it’s very common that the tourists go south in September to watch this enormous mammal. There is a good quantity of cetacean species that swim in our oceans, but the humpback whale is one that comes very close to the shore, so it becomes easier to spot. Also, their visit from the cold water of the far north and south of the planet, happens so they can breed and mate. When the calf is born, it needs warm water to keep the energy while it begins the discovery of this world!
This is why we would like to give you some tips on how to make the best out of your whale watching experience!
First of all, be aware that there are two seasons when whales come to breed: the north hemisphere residents visit from February to May, and from July to November the south residents come up to our shore. The population in the south is bigger, therefore this season is better for whale watching. In any month between August, September or October you will have a great chance of finding them.
We recommend two places to go whale watching: the one that is closer to the Central Valley is the Ballena Marine National Park. However if you have more time, a visit to Caño Island from Drake Bay is ideal! Of course, there are other options, for example if you visit the island from Sierpe ori f you visit Ballena from the Central Pacific.
If you decide to visit Ballena National Park, then we recommend a 2-day trip, even though you could make it in one day if you don’t mind going back to San José totally exhausted. Take your first day to drive to the South Pacific and lodge in any of the sustainable lodges from Dominical to Ventanas (you want to be near Ballena National Park). In the second day you can take the half-day tour, watch them in the bay, navigate near the shore to learn more about the national park and swim in the warm and wildlife abundant water of the Pacific Ocean. One thing to keep in mind is that Uvita organizes the Whale Festival during September, and you can get pretty good prices, although the tour is shorter and the tourists arrive massively.
Another recommendation is to make sure you hire a responsible tour operator: remember that this activity must be performed in such a way that the animal will not feel stressed and that the tourist is safe at all times. It is highly recommendable that you have a guide well versed in cetacean biology and ecology so you can have a richer experience.
During the tour focus on watching the animal and enjoying the experience, rather than taking pictures – especially if this is your first time. If you are lucky enough so the whale starts jumping, splashing and performing other tricks, it all happens so fast that you will not enjoy the show if you are trying to get the perfect picture.
This is a very unique experience, enjoy it to its fullest! We recommend that you do it at least once in your life!