The morning after our exciting day at Manuel Antonio National Park, Elliott and I took a bus about 40 miles south to Uvita, a small community on the Pacific coast that’s known for hosting music events, including Envision Festival. We were fortunate enough to visit when the Festival de Ballenas y Delfines (Whale and Dolphin Festival) was taking place at Marino Ballena National Park during the peak of the humpback whale watching season in Costa Rica, which runs from August to October.
When we got into town, we walked about a mile to our hostel, Flutterby House. Most of the beds were open, so we were able to choose which of the treehouse type rooms that we wanted to sleep in. We picked the one that was over the kitchen and had beds covered by mosquito nets.
After we got settled in, we ate lunch at the hostel and tried a couple of different Costa Rican beers. Then we bought some vegetables from a local produce truck when it visited the hostel and went into town to buy some other food supplies. We spent most of the afternoon planning the Panama leg of our trip at a coffee shop after we purchased our bus tickets to David, Panama.
We walked back to the hostel, where we hung out and did some more planning, until we decided it was time to make rice me vegetables for dinner. We also played a rousing game of cribbage and drank a couple of beers before bedtime.
The next morning, we headed to the Whale and Dolphin Festival in hopes of finding the cheapest tour possible to go humpback whale watching. A woman who works at the hostel told us we would be able to do so for only $40 USD a person, so we had only accounted for that much when we took money out of an ATM the day before. Well, the festival did offer a two-hour tour for $40 USD, but it didn’t include entrance to the park. We got lucky because we were able to convince a private tour company to take whatever money we had left over after paying the entrance fee into the park. I think it ended up being less than $40 USD per person for a three-hour tour when the company usually charges $50 USD.
We had a couple of hours to kill before the tour started, so we wandered around the beach, playing in the waves and collecting colorful shells. When it was time for the tour to begin, we arrived at our boat to find out that it was stuck in the sand, so all of the men in our group spent at least 30 minutes trying to push it out, but it wouldn’t budge until about a dozen guys from other tour companies helped to free it.
After we all piled into the boat, we headed out into the ocean and almost immediately found a female humpback whale and her calf, and we watched them swim around for at least half an hour. Then we checked out some other areas of the park, including the sea caves and Whale Island, and swam in open water for about 15 minutes until we started drifting too close to the rocks and had to scramble back onto the boat.
On our way back to shore, we ate watermelon and pineapple, and stopped again to watch the female humpback whale and her calf.
I unfortunately don’t have any photos of our day at Marino Ballena because the workers at the hostel warned us not to bring any valuables to the beach due to theft, so we followed their advice, but I’m fairly sure we would’ve been fine since there weren’t many people there. On the plus side, I felt like I was able to really enjoy whale watching in the moment, as I didn’t have a camera pressed up against my face the whole time.