Must-Do Activities in Uvita, Costa Rica

Bodhi Surf + Yoga / Surf + Yoga Camp Blog / Must-Do Activities in Uvita, Costa Rica

One of our favorite things about Bodhi Surf + Yoga is the town we’re lucky enough to call home – Uvita, Costa Rica.

There’s so much that our beach town has to offer – whether you’re looking for adventure tours, culture and educational experiences, or natural attractions.

We’ve been welcoming everything from families to solo travelers from all over the world for 13 years now – we have a pretty good idea of some of the favorite things to do here in Uvita, Costa Rica.

Let us help you plan your trip and welcome you here to Uvita, Costa Rica. Bienvenidos!

Note: In this post you’ll see me refer to Uvita, Bahia, and Bahia Ballena.

Bahia Ballena is the district that we live in, in the province of Puntarenas in the Pacific South of Costa Rica.

Uvita and Bahia are two sister towns within this district, split by the Costanera highway. They are often referred to together as Uvita.

Also, all prices listed are in USD.

Outdoor and adventure tours in Uvita, Costa Rica

If you’re staying with us here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we purposefully give you a free day during the week.

This allows you to support one of our local tour companies and experience Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica in a different way!

There are a range of tours and excursions that we can help you book here in Uvita, Costa Rica.

Let’s dive into it, shall we?

Whale and dolphin tour in Uvita, Costa Rica

Whale watching and dolphin encounter tour

  • Individual rate: Adults $75, children $35 (3-10 years)
  • Duration: 2.5 – 3 hours
  • Start time: 8:30am and 1pm
  • Book here: Bahia Aventuras
  • Best for: Families, nature lovers, animal spotting
  • Distance from Bodhi Surf + Yoga: A 10 minute walk

Whale watching is a must do if you’re visiting our small town on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

We’re lucky enough to live in one of the most biologically diverse places in the world – so you can expect to see some thriving marine life.

During this half day trip, you’ll cruise around various locations off our south Pacific coast, including:

  • The famous Whale’s Tail
  • The Tres Hermanas Islets
  • Ventanas Sea Caves

During the boat ride, the guides will have their eyes peeled for humpback whales, dolphins, and other marine life.

The tour includes:

  • A bilingual naturalist guide
  • Drinking water
  • Tropical fruit snacks
  • Entrance fee to Marino Ballena National Park
  • Snorkeling equipment – if conditions permit

Whale watching is actually a pretty historic activity in Uvita.

Before tourism came to the town, the main way for people to make ends meet was fishing.

During whale season, the fishermen often complained that the whales would break their nets and fishing lines. A tourist overheard a discussion between a couple fishermen about the whales, and offered to pay them to take him out on their boat to see the humpback whales.

The locals realized that this could indeed be a way of sustaining themselves – and thus, whale watching tours in Uvita were born!

Interesting facts

  • We have two distinctive whale seasons:
    -From July to the end of October is the best time to spot the southern hemisphere humpback whales which migrate to us from Antarctica to breed and raise their calves in our warm waters
    -From December to March is the best time to spot the northern hemisphere humpback whales which come to us from as far north as Alaska to breed and raise their calves
  • The Marina Ballena National Park gets its name from these migrating humpback whales

Although Bahia Aventuras is normally our go-to, you can also book with:

Corcovado National Park nature tour

  • Individual rate: Adults $145, children $95 (4-10 years)
  • Duration: Full day
  • Start time: 7:30am
  • Book here: Bahia Aventuras
  • Best for: Families, nature lovers, bird watching, hiking
  • Distance from Bodhi Surf + Yoga: A 10 minute walk

Corcovado is accessed by boat, so anticipate that this will be a full day trip. You may already be pretty tired from a few days of surfing, but we highly recommend it.

This is a great chance to witness the richly diverse plant and animal life that Costa Rica has to offer.

The tour leaves from the Marino Ballena National Park, with a one-and-a-half hour boat ride to the San Pedrillo Ranger Station at the Corcovado National Park.

During this boat ride, it’s very common to see:

  • Humpback whales
  • Dolphins
  • Turtles
  • Many other kinds of marine life!

Once you’ve reached the national park, you will have two two-hour guided nature hikes along two different trails. There’s a picnic included to split the two hikes!

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Costa Rica’s national plant – the Guaria Morada! It’s a beautiful bright purple orchid. Based on Tico tradition, it brings good luck!

Along the hikes you’re likely to see:

  • Spider, howler, and white-faced monkeys
  • Sloths
  • Coatis
  • Raccoons
  • A variety of birds and plants

Interesting facts

  • The Corcovado National Park was established as a national park on October 24, 1975
  • It has 54,039 terrestrial hectares and 2,400 marine hectares
  • The national park holds 3% of the biodiversity on this side of the planet:
    -6,000 species of insects
    -500 species of trees
    -367 species of birds
    -140 species of mammals
    -117 species of amphibians and reptiles
    -40 species of freshwater fish

Although we usually recommend Bahia Aventuras, we’ve also heard great guest reviews for:

Nauyaca Waterfalls horseback riding tour

  • Individual rate: $80
  • Duration: 4.5 hours
  • Start time: 9am
  • Book here: Nauyaca Waterfalls Costa Ricamust book in advance
  • Best for: Families, nature lovers, animal lovers
  • Distance from Bodhi Surf + Yoga: An approximately 30-minute drive

This is another great idea for your Costa Rica itinerary.

Transportation to the starting point is not included. Unlike the two tours above, it’s not walking distance from Uvita. It’s about a $70 roundtrip taxi.

Once you arrive at the Nauyaca Waterfalls tour office, you’ll start with a 45-60 minute horseback ride to a family house where you’ll have a delicious typical Costa Rican breakfast.

The house also has a mini-zoo, where you can observe some local animals.

The tour then continues on the horses for another 25 minutes to the waterfalls, where you can swim in the natural pools.

On the way back, you’ll stop at the house again for a typical tico lunch before heading back to the office to finish the tour.

Interesting facts

  • The family that owns the property settled on it over 60 years ago
  • The falls are located in a canyon approximately 80 meters wide
  • The highest of the falls is 45 meters high

Terraba Sierpe kayak tour in Uvita, Costa Rica

Terraba Sierpe kayak or SUP tour

  • Individual rate: $70
  • Duration: Approximately 3 hours
  • Start time: Tide dependent
  • Book here: Pineapple Kayak Tours
  • Best for: Families, nature lovers, animal spotting, ecotourism
  • Distance from Bodhi Surf + Yoga: A 20 minute taxi ride to Dominical ($40 roundtrip)

If your arms aren’t already too tired from surfing, kayaking is a great way to spend your free day!

And why not do it at one of the best kayaking locations in Costa Rica?

During the tour, you’ll kayak through one of the largest mangrove systems in Central America – it’s a total of 22,000 hectares.

The canals and lush jungle are home to a great variety of flora and fauna native to Costa Rica – and it’s an exceptional spot for bird watching. Some of the most common tropical birds to be seen are:

  • White ibis
  • Kingfishers
  • Pelicans
  • Frigates
  • Tiger and boat-billed herons

It’s a paradise for bird lovers!

It’s also very common to spot monkeys, snakes, and crocodiles.

Interesting facts

  • Terraba Sierpe encompasses 30,654 hectares
  • It is home to 55 fish species
  • The land was designed as a forest reserve in 1977

Rancho La Merced horseback tour in Uvita, Costa Rica

Rancho La Merced horseback riding tour

  • Individual rate: $55
  • Duration: Approximately 3 hours
  • Start time: 9am and 2pm
  • Book here: Rancho La Merced
  • Best for: Families, rural experience, nature lovers
  • Distance from Bodhi Surf + Yoga: A 10 minute drive

Did you even visit Costa Rica if you didn’t go horseback riding?

One thing we like about this tour is that you can customize it to your liking.

Not only do you ride through the ranch’s private property, but you can also opt to visit either a small waterfall or Playa Hermosa beach.

Playa Hermosa is one of the two beaches that we’re best known for – the other being Playa Uvita at the Marino Ballena National Park. You can opt for this visit if the timing coincides with low tide, and it’s a beautiful spot to watch some amazing sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

As for the waterfall – you’ll horseback through a tropical rainforest and through a shallow river, before arriving at the property’s private waterfall! It’s a prime place to swim and cool down.

Interesting facts

  • The land encompasses 506 hectares of primary and secondary tropical wet forest
  • It has been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag – something we here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga are in the process of doing
  • This wildlife refuge is private land that belongs to a Costa Rican family

Snorkeling at Caño Island, Uvita, Costa Rica

Scuba diving or snorkeling tours at Caño Island biological reserve

  • Individual rate: Adults $145, children $90 (under 10 years)
  • Duration: Approximately 7 hours
  • Start time: Recommended to arrive at the tour office at 6:40am
  • Book here: Bahia Aventuras
  • Best for: Families, marine life, nature lovers, animal spotting
  • Distance from Bodhi Surf + Yoga: A 10 minute walk

Snorkeling and scuba diving are two of the best things to do in Uvita, Costa Rica – and Caño Island is one of the best spots to do them.

The tour starts with a 75 minute boat ride to reach Caño Island – a tiny island off our south Pacific coast, about 10 miles west of the Corcovado National Park.

The island is surrounded by pristine clear waters and thriving coral reefs, where you’re likely to see:

  • Sea turtles
  • White-tipped reef sharks
  • Rays
  • Colorful fish

Scuba diving and snorkeling are excellent ways of seeing the marine biodiversity that Costa Rica is so well known for.

The tour includes:

  • National park entrance fees
  • Scuba diving and snorkeling equipment (diving certification required for scuba diving)
  • Bilingual guides
  • Snacks, lunch, and drinking water

Interesting facts

  • Caño Island became a biological reserve in 1978
  • The island originated between 40-50 million years ago as a result of tectonic plate movement
  • The island contains about 158 species of plants and ferns.

Along with Bahia Aventuras, you can also book similar tours with:

Note: The tours with these companies do not include scuba diving. The only tour company that includes scuba diving is Costa Rica Dive and Surf.

Cultural Tours in Uvita, Costa Rica

We work alongside local company Turismo Cultural Costa Rica, and recommend their tours to our guests.

These local tours allow you to witness some of the natural wonders here in Bahia Ballena, all while learning about the area’s history and nature.

They truly are unique educational experiences!

Don Guelo's farm tour in Uvita, Costa Rica

Get a taste of rural life at Don Guelo’s farm

  • Individual rate: $65
  • Group rate: $50 per person
  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Start time: 8am and 3pm
  • Book here: Don Guelo’s farm tour
  • Best for: Families, rural experience, ecotourism, educational experience, agriculture

Don Guelo’s farm is the only self-sufficient farm in the area!

As sustainability lovers ourselves, we just can’t recommend this tour enough – it’s the only secondary forest in the community!

What does this mean? Don Guelo and his family have reforested this area of the farm – it’s now a thriving sanctuary for local wildlife.

Supporting tours like this are critical to using your trip as a force for good, something we’re extremely passionate about here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga.

Throughout the tour you’ll be shown local agriculture techniques that have been passed down for generations. Supporting tours like this helps to preserve these cultural practices.

If you’re lucky enough to meet Don Guelo’s wife, Doña Yeti, you’ll be able to enjoy the end product of these agricultural practices – i.e. a delicious and authentic farm-to-table lunch.

On this tour, your guides will be our good friends Noilyn, Wayne, or Risto. You really couldn’t ask for better guides than them – they’re beyond passionate about promoting our local businesses and their practices.

These businesses make us who we are! They give our town identity.

Walking tour in Uvita, Costa Rica

Experience the local community on a walking tour

  • Individual rate: $50
  • Group rate: $20 per person
  • Duration: Approximately 2 hours
  • Start time: 8am and 3:30pm
  • Book here: Bahia community walking tour
  • Best for: Families, ecotourism, community experience, educational experience

At Bodhi Surf + Yoga we include the community walking tour in your one or two-week retreat with us.

To us it’s important that as our guests you have a feel for the neighborhood. After all, it is your home while you’re here!

It’s a great chance to learn about the town’s interesting history, see some plants and animals, and speak to some locals.

On the tour, you’ll pass by:

Taking the walking tour allows you to get situated in the town, and is a great way to first experience our community and home.

A guest favorite is always the miracle berries! Wayne is known to stop by the “miracle berry” bush just outside one of our small supermarkets. He’ll go inside, buy a few lemons and show you the magic of the berries!

They make sour fruits taste sweet. You’ll pick a berry from the bush, bite into a lemon, and behold! The magic of the berry makes the lemon taste sweet.

Coconut tour in Uvita, Costa Rica

Get lost in a coconut plantation paradise

  • Individual rate: $65
  • Group rate: $50 per person
  • Duration: Approximately 2 hours
  • Start time: Inquire
  • Book here: Coconut plantation tour
  • Best for: Families, ecotourism, agriculture, rural life

Ever been to a coconut plantation before?

Here in Uvita, we have David who owns and runs his own Coconut plantation tours. They are based in a peaceful area surrounded by palm trees – could you get more tropical than that?

While strolling around his property David demonstrates how he makes coconut milk and oil, both of which you can buy from him!

He also shares his knowledge on the town’s history and the traditional use of coconuts and palm trees here in Costa Rica.

The tour will end with some refreshing coconut water and homemade sweets made from coconut. If you enjoy them – which it’s impossible not to — you can buy some!

David is a key member of our community here in Uvita, Bahia Ballena.

Not only does he use his business to preserve traditional uses of coconuts, but he is also helping the reforestation of the Marino Ballena National Park with coconut palms.

Sugar can tour in Uvita, Costa Rica

Fix your sweet tooth on a sugar cane tour

  • Individual rate: $65
  • Group rate: $50 per person
  • Duration: Approximately 3 hours
  • Start time: Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between 8am and 3pm
  • Book here: Sugar cane plantation tour
  • Best for: Families, ecotourism, agriculture, rural life

Don Ademar and his family run an organic sugar cane plantation here in Bahia Ballena, and it’s a popular tour choice.

While wandering through his plantation, you can expect to be refreshed with samples of sugarcane juice and tapa de dulce.

Don Ademar demonstrates his family’s authentic techniques of growing, harvesting, and producing products made from their sugar cane.

These guys are professionals – they’ve been producing sugar cane for over 20 years now!

The family are known to share stories about their lives growing up in rural Costa Rica, and why they decided to start making organic sugar cane products in the first place.

Attractions in Uvita, Costa Rica

Aside from the tours and day trips that Uvita has to offer, there are also many attractions that you can venture to on your own!

If you’re staying with us at Bodhi Surf + Yoga, you have a couple free mornings and afternoons, allowing you to discover the other delights that our beach town has to offer!

Whale's tail at the Marino Ballena National Park in Uvita, Costa Rica

Walk the famous Whale’s Tail

This is one of the most popular activities to participate in in Uvita, Costa Rica – you’ve probably seen photos of it when researching Uvita.

The Whale’s Tail walk is something that most people do when they visit Uvita. It’s a sandbar that extends approximately 1km into the Pacific Ocean.

You can access the Whale’s Tail via the Marino Ballena National Park, and it has a small entrance fee of approximately $7.

Once you’re in the national park, you’ll walk out onto Playa Uvita where at low tide you can see the Whale’s Tail towards the north of the beach.

If you plan on doing the walk – which is about a 2km roundtrip — it’s very important that you check the tides beforehand. If you go at high tide, it’ll be submerged under water. Check the Magic Seaweed surf report to see what time low tide is and note that the best time to access the Whale Tail is two hours before and after low tide.

It really is a spectacular walk. From the edge of the Whale’s Tail you can look back on Playa Uvita and the national park, where you can admire the jungle covered mountains that cover Costa Ballena, Costa Rica.

Swimming at the Uvita Waterfall

Cool off at the Uvita Waterfall

It’s no secret that, if there’s one thing that Costa Rica has a lot of, it’s waterfalls.

And we’re no exception! Visiting the Uvita Waterfall should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Uvita, Costa Rica.

If you’ve been doing lots of surfing during your time here, the Uvita Waterfall can be a nice break from the warm water of Playa Uvita or Playa Hermosa. It’s surprisingly cool!

After you’ve trekked up the steep hill to get there, it’s the perfect location to cool off (don’t worry, you can drive too). There are plenty of natural freshwater pools, shaded by the surrounding mountains and hills.

The Uvita Waterfall does have a $2-4 per-person entrance fee – but if you’re a Bodhi Surf + Yoga guest this is included in your week-long retreat!

There are also two separate restaurants at the respective entrance with delicious food and refreshments to enjoy after your swim!

Doesn’t sound like a bad place to hang out, does it? The Uvita Waterfall should be on your list for when you visit Uvita, Costa Rica.

Playa Hermosa, Uvita, Costa Rica

Relax your body and mind at Playa Hermosa

It’s definitely worth venturing north up the Pacific Coast to Playa Hermosa (Osa) when you visit Uvita, Costa Rica.

Unlike Playa Uvita at the national park, Playa Hermosa is free! You may have to take a taxi to get there though – around a 10 minute drive from Uvita center.

We recommend this beach as a great spot to hang out under the shade of some palm trees, drink a cold coconut, and eat some ceviche. What better way to enjoy the laid back vibe of Costa Rica?

Playa Hermosa isn’t lined with bars and restaurants like other beaches around Costa Rica, but there are a few spots to buy these refreshments.

Another benefit of this beach is that there are lifeguards on duty from 8am-5pm. This makes it a great spot to feel safe if you’re with family and younger children.

Playa Hermosa is also known for its waves. We don’t recommend beginner surfers surf here, but the waves are very popular amongst intermediate and advanced surfers.

Birds at the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary in Uvita, Costa Rica

Visit the rescued animals at the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

There are many characteristics that Costa Rica is famous for, but its animals have to be up there as one of the most famous. Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world!

This sanctuary is a place where injured, abandoned, severely domesticated, and abused wildlife come to be rehabilitated and nurtured back to health.

Although some of these animals will be there for life, they successfully rehabilitate and release many of the animals back into the wild!

One of the many reasons that we recommend the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is that they are a non-profit organization that is 100% supported by donations. Basically, your visit helps them rescue animals that are so important to Costa Rica!

The sanctuary runs tours that last an hour and a half, and you can expect to be educated on their diverse range of animals native to Costa Rica!

After your tour ends, you can enjoy the spectacular views (over 180 degrees of the Pacific ocean) by enjoying some food or drink from the attached Villas Alturas restaurant and bar.

Sunset surf at the Marino Ballena National Park in Uvita, Costa Rica

Take a surf lesson at the Marino Ballena National Park

As a Costa Rica surf and yoga camp, we just couldn’t possibly get through this guide without recommending surfing or taking a surf lesson.

But really, Costa Rica is one of the best countries in the world to learn to surf!

And we honestly believe that you can’t find a better spot to learn than here in Uvita, Costa Rica.

We’re blessed here with Playa Uvita at the Marino Ballena National Park. It is the absolute perfect surf spot for both beginner and intermediate surfers. The beach is long and wide, meaning it doesn’t get too overcrowded with surfers.

If you’ve never surfed before, we can’t recommend enough that you take a lesson. You’d be beyond surprised at what it can do for you physically, mentally, and spiritually.

At Bodhi Surf + Yoga, our thesis behind teaching people how to surf is that it allows you to fall in love with the ocean, and therefore urges you to protect it.

By teaching people to surf we’re not just drawing more people into the ocean ecosystem – we’re helping to create Ocean Guardians who will make it their responsibility to protect and care for the ocean.

We’re all about helping to create that harmony. If we can clearly benefit so much from the ocean, the ocean should be able to benefit from us, too.

It should be a give and take relationship – and here, it is. For us, that’s the only option.

Marino Ballena National Park in Uvita, Costa Rica

Bahia Ballena awaits you

If you’ve made it this far in the guide, you’ve more than likely made your mind up and are on your way to Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica.

We’re stoked that you’re coming. Stop by Bodhi Surf + Yoga and give us a visit.

Or better yet, check out our vacation options and book your stay with us!

Here in Uvita, you really can disconnect from the outside world and reconnect with yourself – these activities that we’ve compiled give you the perfect opportunity to do so.

While you’re here, you can discover the real you. You’d be surprised how much simply being immersed in nature can do for you.

Any of these tours and attractions are absolutely perfect for solo travelers, couples, friends, and families. They all foster discovery, education, adventure, and fun!

So – the last thing left to do is pack your bags, get on that plane, and come have the time of your life with us here in Uvita, Costa Rica!

Subscribe for blog updates!

Get the latest from the Bodhi blog directly in your inbox.

About the author

George Frost

George is a food, music, nature, and football-obsessed blog writer at Bodhi Surf + Yoga. He comes all the way from Bermuda and loves sharing his culture with everyone. He is passionate about traveling, as well as experiencing and learning from other cultures.