31 Best Things To Do In Uvita, Costa Rica

Uvita is known for its mountains, tropical rainforest, and wildlife. Many of the fun activities revolve around these attractions. Having visited close to 50 fun spots in Uvita (recommended by different locals), the ones that were absolutely worth trying were no more than 31.

Many tourists are keen on visiting Uvita because, compared to many other towns in Costa Rica, it has fewer crowds, more lush rainforest, empty beaches, and abundant wildlife. 

The small beach town in the South Pacific has been one of Costa Rica’s longest-staying places for my husband and me. This has allowed us time to experience most of the highly recommended fun activities. 

For some, we would gladly do it again. For others, we wouldn’t even recommend our enemies try them. So, I have written this extensive guide to walk you through 31 of the best things we’ve tried to do in Uvita that are absolutely worth your time. 

As a bonus, I’ll also share some tips on moving around Uvita that saved us money and time. (We had to learn some things the hard way, so it’d help if you took note of them.)

Key Takeaways

If you don’t have time to read the entire post, here’s a handpicked activity that I’d absolutely recommend you try during your stay in Uvita. 

  • For water activities, swim in the Uvita Waterfall, see the famous Uvita whale tail, go whale watching, go sea kayaking, take a snorkel combo tour, visit the incredible Nauyaca and Cascada El Pavon Waterfalls, go snorkeling at Caño Island, or try surfing.
  • For things to do on beaches, enjoy stunning beaches inside the Marino Ballena National Park. Hang out at Playa Hermosa.
  • For a wildlife tour, visit Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary and see baby sea turtles being released into the ocean.
  • For places to go, enjoy Uvita’s best restaurants and cafes, the Envision Festival, and visit Manuel Antonio National Park.
  • For soaking in views, watch a beautiful sunset at the beaches and coffee shops in Uvita.
  • For day trips in Uvita, visit Dominical, take a cruise through the Sierpe Mangroves, and take a day trip to Corcovado National Park.

Continue reading to learn about other ideal activities that could pique your interest even more than our top recommendations. Some of them are hidden gems in Uvita (for now). 

In no particular order, here is a list of some of the best things to do in Uvita, Costa Rica: 

1. Go on a whale-watching tour. 

  • Address: Corcovado National Park
  • Budget: depending on the tour. From $78 per person. 
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • A guided tour is needed. Yes
  • Best enjoyed: In groups

A really cool thing to do in Costa Ballena is to watch whales. Humpback whales migrate from cold places to warm tropical waters to have babies.

You can join a whale-watching trip. I totally recommend the Bahia Aventuras tours. 

These trips usually last 3–4 hours. The captain and guide will look for whales and take you to where they might be. 

Seeing these amazing animals swim, splash their tails, and sometimes jump out of the water is super exciting. 

This activity is best for families, nature lovers, and those who love animal spotting.

2. Visit Uvita Waterfall (Cascade Verde).

  • Address: Located just outside the town center.
  • Budget: $4 entrance fee per person.
  • Duration: Hiking to the waterfall takes around 45 minutes.
  • Guided tour needed: no
  • Best enjoyed: alone or in groups

One of the top things to do in Uvita is visit the Uvita Waterfall, also known as Catarata Uvita or Cascada Verde. This waterfall is located just outside the town, nestled in the jungle atop a hill.

You can climb up the waterfall using a somewhat old ladder and slide down from the upper levels, just like a natural water slide.

But make sure to observe a local first to understand the safest spots to slide and jump into the water.

While the waterfall isn’t massive, dropping only 7.5 meters (25 feet), it cascades into a large pool, making it perfect for swimming. The lush jungle surroundings add to its charm.

3. Explore the sea caves at Playa Ventanas Beach.

  • Address: 35 kilometers (146 miles) from San Jose and 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from Uvita, located in the Costa Ballena, South Pacific coast of Costa Rica
  • Budget: free entrance. A mandatory parking fee is CRC 2,000 for the day.
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Guided tour needed: no
  • Best enjoyed with family: 

Ventanas Beach is a neat little spot, and it’s one of the few beaches you can get to below Uvita that isn’t part of the Ballena National Park. 

To access the beach, it costs just 2000 colones per vehicle. There are plenty of food sellers around, and on Saturdays, you’ll see lots of locals enjoying the beach. 

It’s very safe and enjoyable here. Don’t forget to explore the caves on the north side! It’s best to visit when the tide is low so you can get inside the caves.

It’s also great that there are lifeguards on duty. Remember to pay attention to the flags: only swim where the yellow flag is flying. 

This beach is perfect for families.

4. The Whale Tail 

  • Address: Bahia Ballena, 200 meters north of Marino Ballena National Park’s main entrance.
  • Budget: $6 per person per day.
  • Duration: 3.5 hours.
  • Guided tour needed: no
  • Best enjoyed: in groups or alone

Seeing the whale tail is one of the most popular things to do in Uvita, and that’s what made this town famous in Costa Rica.

A peninsula in the shape of a whale’s tail is located right where humpback whales swim. You can easily locate Punta Uvita on the map.

When the tide is low, this rocky peninsula and a long stretch of sand appear just off the coast of Playa Uvita. They are shaped like whale tails. 

Since the peninsula is part of the national park, make sure to check the opening hours and pay the entry fee before you go.

5. Go on a coffee tour.

  • Address: Cafe Don Emilio, San Luis Town. 
  • Budget: $30
  • Duration: 3 hours.
  • A guided tour is needed. Yes

A fantastic way to learn everything about growing and making coffee is to visit a friendly, family-owned business high above Uvita. Deiner, who runs the company with his dad, Emilio, is really passionate about coffee and shared a ton of interesting information with us. It felt like a truly authentic Costa Rican experience.

They’ll welcome you warmly and treat you to lots of delicious coffee, along with fresh banana bread, pineapple, and a tasty lunch. The road up there is winding, but the views of the mountains and the Whale Tail below are absolutely breathtaking.

I highly recommend this experience. At the end of the tour, you get to savor an incredible cup of the finest coffee you’ve ever tasted. And the best part? You can buy coffee right there and take it home as a souvenir!

This tour is a must-do if you’re in Costa Rica

6. Visit Dominical for a surfing experience. 

  • Address: Dominical is located in the southern part of Puntarenas.
  • Budget: Free access to the beach.
  • Guided tour needed: no
  • Best enjoyed: In groups

Even though Dominical is small, there are still plenty of cool things to do. It’s only a 20-minute drive from Uvita, so we suggest exploring Dominical and its surroundings.

Playa Dominicalito, which is smaller and quieter, is just outside Dominical. This beach became one of our local favorites. 

While it might not be as stunning as Playa Uvita, it’s still a great spot, and it’s free to visit. The water here is gentle enough for swimmers and beginner surfers.

7. Experience wildlife at the Sierpe River Mangrove Boat Tour. 

  • Address: 75m south of the Plaza de Deportes Bahia Ballena, Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica
  • Budget: From $70
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Guided tour needed: Yes (I recommend Pinanple KayakTours).

As you paddle through the canals and lush jungle, you’ll encounter a rich diversity of flora and fauna native to Costa Rica. It’s a haven for bird enthusiasts, with the opportunity to spot magnificent tropical birds such as white ibises, kingfishers, pelicans, frigates, tigers, and boat-billed herons. 

But the wildlife doesn’t stop there. Keep your eyes peeled for sightings of monkeys, snakes, and even crocodiles as you navigate through this captivating ecosystem.

8. Zip-line adventures

  • Address: Restaurant La Catarata acceso a la Catarata Uvita
  • Budget: $80 per person.
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours

The adventure starts with five or six zip lines, each 300 to 550 feet long. You’ll zip through the treetops, reaching ten platforms along the way. Next, expert tour guides will guide you through a thrilling 50-foot-tall tree rappel.

Afterwards, there’s a short 5-minute walk along the path for any wildlife spotting. Then, a controlled rope descends to a natural pool under the watchful guidance of tour guides.

After all the excitement, you’ll make your way to the restaurant, where you can treat yourself to a typical Costa Rican dish. It starts early with the 7:30 group.

9. Learn all about coconuts on the Coconut Tour.

  • Address: 250 metros este de la plaza de deportes, Provincia de Puntarenas, Uvita, Bahía, 60504, Costa Rica
  • Budget: $25 per person.
  • Duration: 2.5 hours.
  • Guided tour needed: yes
  • Best enjoyed: In groups

The Coconut Tour with David was excellent! His love for his country, town, and coconuts made us appreciate everything even more. 

You will learn everything there is to know about cultivating coconut palms and how to use every part of the coconut, from milk and oil to snacks and lip balm.

David will also show you how to thatch a roof, as well as a cashew plant. David will demonstrate his machete-wielding skills and teach you how to make oil, charcoal, compost, and coconut cream for local businesses. This tour offers the best value and isn’t overly touristy.

10. Hang out at Playa Hermosa. 

  • Address: Guanacaste Province, just north of Playas del Coco and south of the Papagayo Peninsula.
  • Budget: $3 per person. 
  • Duration: 6+ hours
  • Guided tour needed: no
  • Best enjoyed: in groups and families

Playa Hermosa is a long, wide beach with dark sand and palm trees. There aren’t many buildings or things to buy, except for a person selling coconuts and a few surfers renting boards.

If you want a calm day at the beach, bring some drinks and snacks and find a spot on this 2 km (1.2 mi) long beach.

11. Kayak Tour

  • Budget: $75
  • Duration: 3 hours.
  • A guided tour is needed. Yes
  • Best enjoyed: In groups

Kayaking is a great way to explore the Whale’s Tail area. It’s a short excursion, lasting only about 3 hours maximum. The walk from the store to the entrance to Ballena National Park is approximately 1/3 of a mile. 

Once we reach the beach, your kayaks will be guided through the waves. After paddling away from the shore, you kayak to the end of the whale’s tail formation during low tide, and then go snorkeling near the rocks.

12. Horseback riding on the beach

  • Address: 34, Puntarenas Province, Uvita, Costa Rica
  • Budget: $55
  • Duration: 2 1/2 hours of riding.
  • A guided tour is needed. Yes
  • Best enjoyed: In groups
  • Contact: Rancho La Merced horseback riding tour
  • Website 

You’ll not only ride through the ranch’s land but also choose between visiting a small waterfall or heading to Playa Hermosa Beach.

Playa Hermosa is one of Uvita’s two famous beaches, along with Playa Uvita in Marino Ballena National Park. If the tide is low, it’s a stunning spot to catch breathtaking sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

If you choose the waterfall option, you’ll journey on horseback through a lush rainforest and across a shallow river until you reach the ranch’s very own waterfall.

13. Go bike riding (avoid Route 34).

  • A guided tour is needed. Yes
  • Best enjoyed: In groups

Explore the beauty of Playa Uvita with this bike tour. Ride through the jungle, passing by farms and streams, until you reach a stunning waterfall. Take a refreshing dip before heading back.

Bike riding in this area is a lot of fun, but Route 34 could be dangerous. I wouldn’t recommend that path. But if you head down to Bajia, there are beautiful areas to ride in.

14. ATV tour 

There are a couple of companies here in Uvita that can take you on a tour, even to places where you probably don’t want to drive your car. 

I recommend Jungle ATV and Morete Adventure Tours for any ATV tour in Uvita. 

These groups can take you to some waterfalls or even up to the coffee plantation.

15. Watch the turtle release at Playa Tortuga.

  • Address: Ojochal de Osa, Provincia de Puntarenas, Ojochal, 60501, Costa Rica
  • Budget: free 
  • Duration: 1 to 2 hours
  • Guided tour needed: no
  • Best enjoyed: alone or in groups

At Playa Tortuga, there are many turtle conservation facilities where turtle eggs are incubated and released. It’s an opportunity to watch the activity. You can keep an eye on Reserva Playa Tortuga for turtle release dates because they’re unpredictable. 

16. Visit a fish farm.

Fish farms are usually tilapia, and they’ll cook them for you there on the spot. You can ask any locals for the nearest fish farm, depending on where you are in Uvita. 

17. Go on a Chocolate Tour.

  • Address: Puntarenas Province, Uvita, Costa Rica.
  • Budget: $40 per person.
  • Duration: 1–2 hours
  • A guided tour is needed. Yes
  • Best enjoyed: In groups

This is another exciting activity in Uvita. You’ll be shown the process of making cacao (chocolate). 

The highlight of this activity is when they smear chocolate on your face. It’s not mandatory, but it’s all part of the ceremony. It happens at Cacao Puro Muba, CR. 

18. Visit restaurants with great views (of the mountains, ocean, whale tail, sunset, etc.).

Dominical and Uvita offer more than just your average restaurants where you can see the ocean’s beauty.

You can go to Bar Jolly Roger near Dominical or the Aracari Restaurant in Uvita for the best views. 

While these places are open for dinner, we recommend visiting during the day or at sunset. 

Some might need a 4×4 vehicle or a car with high clearance to get there.

19. Hike to Playa Arco

  • Address: Marino Ballena National Park
  • Budget: $6 for foreigners and 1000 CRC for Costa Rican citizens and residents
  • Duration: It took us 25 minutes to get there but only 15 minutes to walk back. 
  • A guided tour is needed. Yes
  • Best enjoyed: In groups

Playa Arco is in Marino Ballena National Park, but it’s a bit of a hike, so plan on that. It takes at least half a day to get out there, and you need to know the tide, mainly because it’s not really accessible unless you hit it just right. 

So I recommended a guided tour. You can even stay at La Cusinga Lodge and get free access to all the property trails. 

20. Visit the Nauyaca Waterfalls.

  • Address: Dominical, San Isidro PZ, San José Province, Pérez Zeledón, 11909, Costa Rica
  • Budget: $30 for adults and $20 for children (3–12 years old).
  • Duration: The hike to the waterfall takes 30 to 45 minutes.
  • A guided tour is needed. Not necessarily
  • Best enjoyed: In groups

Nauyaca Waterfalls are situated between Dominical and Perez Zeldon. This is one of the biggest waterfalls in this area, with water cascading over rocky cliffs into a giant pool below. Many people include them in their Costa Rica plans, and trust me, they’re worth all the hype. 

You can enter from two different places: Don Lulo’s Nauyaca Waterfalls and the Nauyaca Waterfall Nature Park.

21. Cascada El Pavon 

  • Address: 39HH+QV4, Provincia de Puntarenas, Punta Mala Arriba, Costa Rica
  • Budget: Free
  • Guided tour needed: no

Cascada El Pavon, near Ojochal, is a beautiful waterfall easily accessible from the highway. It requires a short, easy hike to reach. 

Parking is available roadside, and there is no entrance fee. 

A restaurant and tilapia fish farm are located across from the falls, offering scenic surroundings and tempting dishes.

22. Bamboo Forest and Swimming Hole

  • Address: Calle Bejuco, Puntarenas Province, Uvita, 60115, Costa Rica
  • Budget: $2 to enter
  • Guided tour needed: no

Turn right from BCR Uvita onto Calle Uvita. You’ll reach a bamboo forest where tall bamboo trees line the dirt road. 

This offers shade on sunny days and great photo opportunities. Further along, you’ll find a river crossing where it’s best to park and continue on foot. 

Follow the winding road through private properties, enjoying the peaceful sounds of nature. 

Eventually, you’ll reach a secluded swimming hole popular among locals. It’s a hidden gem, so ask for tips before visiting.

23. Engage in birdwatching

  • Address: Cristal Ballena Boutique Hotel and Spa, 7 km al Sur de Uvita, Costa Ballena, Puntarenas, COSTA RICA, Provincia de Puntarenas, Osa, 60504, Costa Rica
  • Guided tour needed: no

The Cristal Ballena Boutique Hotel and Spa in Uvita is well-known among birders, with over 200 bird species spotted on the property. 

Consider going on a birdwatching tour in Uvita or Dominical to spot colorful species such as Aracari Toucans and Scarlet Macaws. 

You can contact your hotel’s tour desk for booking options.

24. A day trip to Manuel Antonio National Park

  • Address: Puntarenas Province, Quepos, Costa Rica
  • Budget: $16 per person.
  • Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • A guided tour is needed. Not necessarily, but good for spotting enough wildlife.

You can easily take a day trip from Uvita, Dominical, or Ojochal to Manuel Antonio National Park, which is much more accessible and affordable than Corcovado. 

Just an hour’s drive from Dominical, it offers wildlife spotting and stunning beaches, ideal for couples, families, or friends. 

The park is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, except Tuesdays. Entrance fees are $16 for foreigners and 1600 colones for citizens and residents.

25. Snorkeling and Diving at Caño Island

  • Address: 75m south of the Plaza de Deportes Bahia Ballena, Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica
  • Budget: Depends on the tour package. Around $150
  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • A guided tour is needed. Yes
  • Best enjoyed: In groups

On your Costa Ballena trip, explore both land and sea wildlife by booking a snorkeling or diving adventure to Caño Island. 

Just off Uvita’s coast, it’s a marine reserve known for its clear waters teeming with turtles, rays, and other aquatic life. 

Tours start at $150. I recommend PADI-certified diving companies, such as Costa Rica Dive and Surf and Costa Rica Divers.

26. Learn Yoga

Many surf camps in Uvita and Dominical offer a combination of surfing and yoga sessions. Institutes like Bodhi Surf + Yoga and Dayasa Yoga Retreat offer yoga programs.

27. Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Address: Calle San Martin Nte, Provincia de Puntarenas, Dominical, Costa Rica
  • Budget: $11
  • Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours
  • A guided tour is needed. Yes
  • Best enjoyed: In groups

Explore the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary near Dominicalito for injured wildlife rehabilitation. Tours cost $33 per adult for foreigners and $11 for locals, offered daily except Mondays at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m.. 

Learn about their mission to release animals back into the wild or provide a forever home in a simulated habitat.

28. Envision Festival

  • Address: 56MJ+5RQ, 34, Puntarenas Province, Uvita, Costa Rica
  • Budget: $8–12 for a meal inside
  • Website 

Every year, Uvita hosts the Envision Festival, a unique weeklong event that brings people from all over the world together for a unique experience by the beach and in the middle of the jungle.

Through various workshops and activities, attendees connect for soul awakening. 

It takes place between February and March, with an upcoming date of March 4, 2024. You can buy tickets here. 

29. Stay at a Ship-Themed Hostel

  • Address: 5777+JH2, Puntarenas Province, Uvita, 60504, Costa Rica
  • A guided tour is needed. 
  • Best enjoyed: In groups

Experience the sensation of standing at the bow of a ship and soaking in the lush scenery of Uvita—not aboard a real ship, but at Shipwrecked Hostel. 

This themed hostel offers cozy sleeping pods, communal amenities, and upper deck spaces for socializing, yoga, or remote work, providing a unique stay in Uvita.

Check availability for booking an accommodation at Ship Themed Hostel HERE.

30. Day trip to Corcovado National Park

  • Address: 75m south of the Plaza de Deportes Bahia Ballena, Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica
  • Budget: A full-day tour starts at $150 per person.
  • Duration: 2 hours.
  • A guided tour is needed. Yes
  • Best enjoyed: in group.

While Corcovado National Park is a top highlight in Costa Rica, if time permits, consider spending a few days in Drake Bay or staying overnight in the park for the best experience. 

For those short on time, day trips from Uvita to the San Pedrillo Ranger Station are available, though Sirena Ranger Station offers superior wildlife viewing. I recommend this tour.

31. Beaches inside Marino Ballena National Park

Marino Ballena National Park safeguards the coastline and waters around Uvita, primarily for the protection of humpback whales during their migrations. 

This preservation also keeps the beaches untouched and undeveloped. 

Playa Uvita, the main beach, stands out with its stunning scenery—palm trees, dark sand, and lush mountains in the backdrop.

Wrapping Up: Tips for Enjoying Activities in Uvita

Some hotels and places might need a 4×4 car to access them. 

Before you go, ask your hotel if you need one of these cars, and make sure you have the proper transportation ready.

If you want to go exploring, you’ll need to rent a car. If you don’t rent a car, you’ll find yourself stationary and unable to explore much.

There are places to get discounts on car rentals in Costa Rica.

FAQs

Is Uvita safe?

Unfortunately, theft rates have increased in Uvita and the broader Costa Ballena area. Most thefts happen when people see an opportunity, and while I didn’t feel personally threatened, it’s essential to be cautious with your belongings.

When you’re at the beach, be extra careful with your stuff. I recommend keeping anything valuable in a waterproof bag with you and try not to leave your towel or belongings unattended for too long.

How do I get to Uvita? 

You can drive there with a rental car, take a bus from San Jose or Quepos, or hop on a tourist shuttle from different places in Costa Rica.

How long can I stay in Uvita and enjoy the town? 

If you’re exploring other places along the Pacific Coast, 2 to 3 nights should be enough. However, if you use Uvita as your home base and take day trips from there, you could stay for up to a week.

When is the best time to visit Uvita?

The best time to visit is during the dry season (November to April). This is also when whales from the northern hemisphere migrate, so you might get a chance to see them.

5/5 - (1 vote)

About 

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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