Uvita Whales Tail Costa Rica: How To Visit & Itinerary

Planning a visit to the miraculous Uvita Whale Tail in Costa Rica? Look no further!

This blog post will give you the what, where, when and how to visit the EPIC Whales Tail Costa Rica in Marino Ballena National Park!

Last April we spent a number of days in Uvita, Costa Rica on our 3 week Costa Rica vacation. This region easily became my favourite and I will go back to Puntarenas Province again and again.

The whale’s tail was one of the coolest experiences we had in the country.

I have made an entire itinerary below with visiting the Whale Tail at low tide, finding the best places to relax on Playa Uvita and some added adventure of sliding down Uvita Waterfall!

Some links in this Uvita Whale Tail blog post are affiliate. If clicked, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

Uvita Whale Tail Itinerary Snapshot

  1. Visit Marino Ballena National Park
  2. Uvita Waterfall
    • Head over to Uvita Waterfall for a swim
    • Butterfly Garden
  3. Sunset Dinner with Views of the Whales Tail

What is the Whale’s Tail in Costa Rica?

The Whale’s Tail in Costa Rica is a natural formation of rocks and sand that separate the ocean and become exposed during low tide. 

The shape miraculously resembles a Whale’s Tail, thus giving it the name. It is also known as the Passage of Moses and the Tómbolo.

During high tide, the Uvita whale tail sandbar is completely covered by water.

Walking the Whales Tail Costa Rica at Marino Ballena National Park
Standing in the middle of the Whale Tail during low tide at Marino Ballena National Park

Where is the Whale’s Tail Located in Costa Rica

The Whale’s Tail in Costa Rica is located in Uvita, Costa Rica within Marino Ballena National Park (Parque Nacional Marino Ballena).

Uvita is found in the Puntarenas Province, the largest province of Costa Rica along the Pacific Coast.

Puntarenas Province is home to multiple amazing Costa Rica destinations and almost all of my favourites:

Marino Ballena National Park Sign at Entrance
Marino Ballena National Park Sign at Entrance

Map of Whale’s Tail in Marino Ballena National Park

On the map above:

  • Uvita Sector park entrance is pinned as Parque Nacional Marino Ballena
  • The Whale’s Tail is pinned as Punta Uvita, (which it is also referred as)
  • Parqueo Bahia is the covered parking lot

How to Visit the Whales Tail

How to Get to Uvita

Each time I have been to Costa Rica I have rented a car and loved the flexibility that comes with it.

I recommend doing the same to visit around the country at your own pace.

Visiting Uvita is straightforward from San José, Costa Rica’s capital. 

Driving to Uvita

There are two main routes to drive from San José, both take around 3.5 – 4 hours in length.

Driving Option 1: 

Drives past Jaco, Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio and Dominical, Costa Rica via Route 27 and 24.

Driving Option 2:

Drives through Parque Nacional Los Quetzales via Route 2, 243 and 34.

Check out Rental Cars for deals & discounts.

Bus from San Jose to Uvita

The bus company, Tracopa, located in San José has a number of bus routes available.

The bus route from San José to Uvita leaves almost hourly on a daily basis. Purchase your tickets at the bus terminal and be on your way!

Click here for the Tracopa Bus Terminal on Google Maps.

How to Get to Marino Ballena National Park

Upon arrival to Uvita, you will be able to easily locate Marino Ballena National Park.

Walk or drive to the end of town, towards the beach and you will reach the entrance to the park!

Parking at Marino Ballena National Park

As you drive through downtown towards the park, you will see a few areas to park.

The main parking lot is called Parqueo Bahia (pinned on the map above). It is a covered parking lot, costing 2000 colones to park for the whole day (about $4 USD).

Click here for the Parqueo Bahia location on Google Maps.

When we arrived this parking lot was completely full, however, just across the street was some parking along the grass for the same cost.

Marino Ballena National Park Entrance

There are four entrances to Marino Ballena National Park; at the moment, 2 are closed for construction. 

To get to the whale’s tail I recommend using the main entrance in downtown Uvita, the Uvita Sector.

This is the most popular entrance point, close to parking lots and steps away from Costa Rican restaurants and shops in Uvita. 

Right before the entrance is a snow copo vendor, get an icy treat before or after going into the park! I enjoyed the coconut flavour while waiting in the heat. 

Click here for the Google Map link of Uvita Sector.

Costa Rican copo, outside of Marino Ballena National Park
Costa Rican Copo (Shaved ice, syrup, powdered milk and sweetened condensed milk).
At Marino Ballena National Park entrance.

Best Time to Visit Marino Ballena National Park

The best time to visit Costa Rica usually falls within the dry season, with the majority of the days being sunshine.

Dry season in Costa Rica is from December to the end of April. Rainy season is from May to November. 

However, this area of Costa Rica has another factor that comes into play when choosing the BEST time to visit: whale watching. 

There are two whale watching seasons in Costa Rica, one being December to March (we visited in April both times and missed out). The other season is from July to October

If you can time your visit to be there during dry season and humpback whale watching season and you are winning! 

Best Time to See The Whales Tail Costa Rica

If there is anything you take away from this post it is timing your visit to the whale’s tail with low tide.

Use this tide chart to determine when low tide will be.

Make sure you look at this before you visit or you will not get to see the famous whales tail Costa Rica has to offer!

Marino Ballena National Park Important Facts

Marino Ballena National Park Hours

Marino Ballena National Park is open daily from 7AM – 4PM. 

The last entry into the park is at 4:00 PM.

Marino Ballena National Park Entrance Fees

Park entrance fees are $7 USD per person (age 12 – 64 years).

Children under age 11 and seniors age 65 and above are FREE

Costa Rican residents pay 1130 colones for entry. 

Payment is by Credit Card or Debit only. 

Reservations are not required, just line up for entry, purchase your ticket and enjoy!

Park Facilities

  • Lunch area
  • Camping area
  • Toilets & showers

What to Bring to Marino Ballena National Park

  • Bathing suit & cover up
  • Beach towel & beach blanket
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • SPF (face & body)
  • Water
  • Snacks: Bring all garbage with you!
  • Book / Kindle
  • Phone
  • Camera

What is NOT Allowed at Marino Ballena National Park

  • Being intoxicated, bringing in alcohol or drugs is prohibited
  • No single use plastics
  • No weapons
  • No pets
  • Drones are prohibited 
  • You cannot remove any wildlife, plants, shells or rocks from the park 
  • You cannot leave garbage or plastic in the park, TAKE IT WITH YOU!
  • No smoking, campfires
  • No loud music 
Eating Chips on Playa Uvita, Marino Ballena National Park
Enjoying Marino Ballena National Park, Playa Uvita

Whales Tail Costa Rica Itinerary

Drive to Marino Ballena National Park

Start your day early and get to Marino Ballena National Park. If you are already staying in the area, time your visit just before the peak of low tide.

If you are travelling from San José, make sure to allot at least 4 hours of travel time.

Pack beach attire; bathing suits, towels, SPF and some snacks and water, a book and whatever else you may need for the beach.

Aim to visit the park before low tide so that you can spend some time wandering around the park before getting to the whale’s tail.

Keep in mind that you will need to wait in line to purchase tickets and walk to the tail which will take some time.

Get in line at the Uvita Sector entrance, purchase your tickets, and get ready to visit one of the coolest parks in Costa Rica!

Walk to the Uvita Whale Tail

Upon entry into the park, you will pass a sign that shows the tide. I still recommend looking up the tide online here before picking your visit time to ensure it is low tide.

The path towards the whale’s tail will be on the right hand side, almost everyone will be going in the direction of the whale’s tail, so you won’t get lost.

Do not swim in the waters along this path as there are crocodiles here! 

No swimming, crocodiles sign in Marino Ballena National Park
No swimming! Crocodiles!

The latter half of the walk will be along the beach, it always seems closer than it actually is… especially in the heat.

The walk from the entrance to the end of the whale’s tail, Punta Uvita, will take approximately 30 minutes. 

Visit The Whale’s Tail at Low Tide

When visiting the whale’s tail at low tide you can walk around the rocky ocean bottom! It is such a cool experience seeing the waves of the ocean coming from both sides.

Unfortunately, the actual shape of the whale’s tail can only be seen from above and you will not be able to unless you have a drone, which is prohibited from within the park. 

Uvita whale tail at low tide, Arujan taking photos on the rocks
Arujan taking photos on the Whale’s Tail

There are other places you can fly your drone from or get views of the whale’s tail from afar.

Spend a Few Hours on Playa Uvita

After spending some time admiring the whale’s tail and walking along the ocean floor. Walk back along the beach to set yourself up for a few hours.

I recommend setting up on the OPPOSITE side of where you entered the park from.

Less people sit on this side and you won’t have people walking past you on their way to and from the Uvita whale tail.

Playa Uvita is relaxing and beautiful, blue ocean lined with palm trees, it can’t get better.

It was easily my favourite beach day in Costa Rica, I preferred it to anywhere we visited in Guanacaste Province. 

Swimming in the ocean here was so warm and calm. Ensure the waters are safe before swimming and do so at your own risk! 

Little crab on Playa Uvita
Little crab on Playa Uvita
Selfie on Playa Uvita, palm trees in the background
Gorgeous Playa Uvita lined with palm trees

Slide Down Uvita Waterfall

If you have had enough beach time at Playa Uvita and want another mini adventure before dinner, I recommend heading over to Uvita Waterfall (Catarata Uvita).

Uvita Waterfall is a quick 10 minute drive from Marino Ballena. Pay the minimal entrance fee that gives you access to the waterfall and butterfly garden.

Follow the orange paint marks along the rocks all the way to the waterfall.

Uvita waterfall path
The path to Uvita Waterfall

Once at Uvita Waterfall, set up on a few rocks and go for a swim in the cool, fresh water.

If you love some adventure, climb up the ladder and slide down the waterfall.

I was way too scared to do this, but my husband did and loved it, (it looked too terrifying to me).

Uvita Waterfall
Uvita Waterfall

Sunset Dinner with Views of the Costa Rica Whales Tail

When visiting the whale’s tail in person, you won’t be able to see the shape unless you are from up above.

Due to the fact drones are prohibited in the park, you will need to go up to a higher location to get the full view of the tail at low tide.

Low tide may not be around sunset, however, if you are lucky that the two overlap, head for a sunset dinner or sunset drinks overlooking the Uvita whale tail.

Two locations for amazing views are:

End your wonderful day in Uvita, Costa Rica.

Uvita Tours

If you prefer to travel in guided tours there are a number of Uvita tours available!

Uvita Whale Watching Tour with Snacks & Drinks

The one tour I highly recommend is a humpback whale watching tour. Only if visiting in whale season.

Don’t forget whale seasons are from December to March and July to October.

This 3 hour tour is offered in English and Spanish by Dolphin Tours Uvita. Drinks and snacks are proided on tour.

Whale sightings are not 100% guaranteed as you are going out looking for them in their natural habitat. However, opting to do the tour in the whale watching seasons heightens your chances.

Click here to book a whale watching tour in Uvita!

Uvita Waterfall & Sunset Views Tour

Want to visit Uvita waterfall on a guided tour?

This tour option will take you to Dominicalito Beach (one of my favourites), Uvita Waterfall and a high sunset viewpoint for drinks and views of the whale tail.

The tour offers pick up and drop off in the area, 4 hours of exploration and snacks.

Click here to book your waterfall & sunset tour!

Snorkeling Tour at Caño Island

This snorkeling tour meets early in the morning in Uvita, where a small breakfast is provided.

You will then go towards the beach, board a boat and travel the 1 hour (and a bit), boat ride to Caño Island where you will get to have two rounds of snorkeling.

Between your snorkeling expeditions you will be fed snacks and a full lunch.

End your tour relaxing on the beach before heading back on the boat home.

This tour is a beautiful and colourful snorkeling experience that should not be missed in Uvita.

Check out prices and booking for Caño Island snorkeling here.

Uvita ATV & Buggie Tour

Had enough of the ocean? (I don’t know how, but hey, it’s possible).

Want to have some land adventure instead? Check out this 4 hour ATV tour for some adrenaline packed driving through the countryside.

Visit waterfalls, rainforests, villages, rivers and more on your ATV.

Click here to book your ATV tour in Uvita.

Where to Stay When Visiting Marino Ballena National Park

The closest area to stay in for visiting Marino Ballena National Park is in Uvita, however, close by towns are also a great option to stay if you are renting a car.

When we visited Uvita & Dominical, we stayed closer to Dominical, on Playa Matapalo in a vacation rental.

I love vacation rentals in Costa Rica and tend to opt for these accommodation types.

Take a quick look at Uvita vacation rentals here.

If you would prefer to stay in a hotel, check out these Uvita hotels.

If you are planning to visit Dominical (super close to Uvita), which I definitely recommend as, Nauyaca Waterfall is my favourite place in Costa Rica…

Check out some hotels in Dominical as well!

Busy? Pin the Whales Tail Costa Rica post for later!

Need help with personal travel planning?

I create custom itineraries and activity guides starting at $25.00 CAD per day!

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Final Thoughts on Your Visit to Uvita Whales Tail

Vising Uvita is a must on any Costa Rica itinerary. The Whale’s Tail is one of those natural attractions that just make you sit back and say, “WOW, how did that get here”.

You will be in awe from the moment you step into Marino Ballena National Park, the palm tree lined beaches transport you into a tropical paradise you will never want to leave!

Make sure you don’t skip out on this super unique destination on your next Central America getaway!

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