Total distance travelled: 39,608.2 kilometres (24,601.37 miles)
Having abandoned our plans to visit the Caribbean beaches due to inclement weather, we switched coasts and hit the Pacific town of Uvita, hopeful of the chance to spy and snorkel with some migrating Humpbacks as they make another of their seasonal journeys.
With the high season kicking in, we felt it wise to book some lodgings in advance, with a couple of hostel options our preference.
When we only heard back from one, it made the decision a no brainer, that luckily we felt worked out for the better. Tucan Hotel was further from the beach (by a kilometre or 2) than our other option, but this meant it was closer to town, so we didn’t need to haul our packs so far in the heat.
Plus it also meant we were closer to the shops when we needed beer!
As far as towns built along highways go, Uvita certainly wasn’t the worst of them and despite its seemingly small size, this town boasts two supermarkets and two banks (both of them oddly from same chain) which had us assuming that there is some sort of expat community in the nearby surrounds.
It was with a little disappointment that we discovered that no Humpbacks had been sighted of late, but on the up side it did mean that we saved ourselves the expense of a boat tour. Instead we settled on a DIY tour of the marine park, and by tour all I really mean is we decided to go snorkeling.
There is usually an entrance fee necessary to enter the beach (due to its marine park status), although our hostel host advised that often the guards are simply not there.
We didn’t mind either way, as at least our fees would in theory go towards sustaining another natural beauty, something the Costa Ricans have become quite adept at since building their economy around eco-tourism.
In our case, there was in fact a guard, we paid our dues, then it was time to explore the beach, and more importantly the ‘Whale’s Tail’, a sandy spit only visible at low tide, which leads out to a rocky platform.
When combined, these 2 parts, from the air at least, resemble the tail of a whale, so hence the name.
Our first encounter, was with a posse of surfers in training (so probably not at a level at which we could yet actually call them surfers), and after several warnings to be careful of our belongings, it was somewhat comforting to see a pretty large police presence as well, patrolling the long sandy expanse by motorbike.
It was a lovely spot, and the blue skies certainly helped us enjoy the place in added comfort (or discomfort if the sun was out for a bit too long).
It took us some time, but we eventually got onto the ‘Whale Tail’ itself, with this wide strip of sand forming a lovely picture bordered by enticing waters.
The rocky section of the tail was actually quite a rugged affair, not all that pleasant to clamber over, and on the ocean side, quite rough.
As such, we opted for the shelter it afforded and chose the landward side for our refreshing dip.
At first, concerned with the safety of our belongings, we took to snorkeling in turn, where as lovely and cooling as the waters were, the visibility wasn’t great.
There was still plenty to see however, it just usually required us to get a little closer before we could properly see what it was that swam about.
Eventually, we used the rocks to our advantage, concealing our belongings and entering the water together.
This expedition was better than the first, as the deeper we went, the visibility was significantly improved (although still not great).
It was better to see with one’s eyes however, as most attempts at photography were met with failure.
A couple weren’t as bad however, so just to prove that the waters were teeming with life, here’s a shot of one colourful local.
The benefits for those on chartered snorkeling tours were obvious, as I can only imagine how good the visibility and sea life was at even greater depths, but for us, it was great to just cool off, and get a little taste of what lurks about the ‘Whale Tail’.
* A room at Tucan Hotel cost us $12.00 US per person, per night.
* Entrance into the Marino Balleno National Park costs $6.00 US per person, with the ticket valid for multiple entries on the day of purchase.