Uvita, Costa Rica is laaaaaid back. It’s not overdeveloped like a lot of the other beach towns. I think in part because beach access is tricky. There is so much protected national park in the South Pacific, that it’s hard to find a house to rent that is close to free beach access. There are ways around that, obviously, but they involve cheating or hiking down sketchy trails.

The non-internet-having oven I was in while living in Uvita was next to a trail that led to the beach. Sure it was riddled with crocodiles, too much mud, and mosquitos, but it was free and it was ours.

I would walk every morning with my roommate and the dogs down the muddy path through the jungle to our own private beach entrance. I saw only two other people on that beach the entire time I lived there – 1. a fisherman and 2. a police officer coming to check on a giant crocodile sighting.

caution crocodile sign in a national park in costa rica

Danger: Crocodiles!

Uvita isn’t deserted, though. I actually met more people there than I did in San Isidro de Heredia. There’s a healthy expat community, softball on Saturdays, delicious places to eat, and even the occasional nightlife. For travelers, there are plenty of opportunities to relax, play, or go on adventure travel tours.

There are many reasons to love Uvita, Costa Rica. Here are twelve:

1. The earth makes the shape of a whale’s tail on a coast with a huge population of whales.

There are so many whales in Uvita, it is actually the location for the Annual Whale and Dolphin Festival in September. It’s one of the most popular places to see whales and they’re in the area August – April (so not so much in May, June, July). Getting to Uvita is easy and it’s very accessible as the town is split in two by the Costanera Highway and the coastal side is 2wd friendly.

Aerial shot of the Whale's Tail in Marino Ballena National Park, Uvita, Costa Rica

Home Sweet Home. Marino Ballena National Park, Uvita, Costa Rica from above. You can see why they call it The Whale’s Tail.

Looking back towards land from the Whale's Tail in Marino Ballena National Park, Costa Rica.

Looking back towards land from the Whale’s Tail in Marino Ballena National Park, Costa Rica.

2. Watching sunset from the Whale’s Tail during low tide is like being on another planet.

Sunset from the Whale's Tail in Uvita, Costa Rica

Watching sunset during low tide from the Whale’s Tail in Uvita is like watching it from a tiny island surrounded by water.

Sunset from the Whale's Tail, Marino Ballena National Park, Costa RIca.

These rocks and all that sand are underwater during high tide. When the water recedes, all kinds of treasures are left behind. For looking, not taking! I’ve found feathers, shells, and turtle bones.

3. The beach looks like this.

looking back on shore from the beach in uvita costa rica

Looking towards the Whale’s Tail and the shore of Marino Ballena National Park, Costa Rica.

beach in Uvita Costa Rica

Our backyard in Uvita, Costa Rica. That’s Nancy chasing her dog out in crocodile territory. :/

yellow flower costa rica

Bright colors popping out from everywhere on the beach in Costa Rica.

4. Less people, more animals.

Not that I’m antisocial or anything like that. To me, it just means less cars, less development, and more room for the people who are there to live in harmony with nature. There are actually more expats in Uvita than in San Isidro de Heredia. A lot more. Like a colony. And some of them play softball on Saturdays. Some play in the band with the town doctor.

cows costa rica

These cows would walk over and focus an intense gaze on me everyday on my morning walk. In Uvita, I lost my appetite for red meat.

dirt road and cows costa rica

This road in Uvita leads to Marino Ballena National Park entrance. The cows are everywhere. So are a menagerie of brilliant birds, monkeys, and all types of jungle wildlife everywhere you look.

5. Sunsets on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica are magnificent and different everyday.

orange sunset costa rica

Rich orange and black sunset in Marino Ballena National Park, Costa Rica

pink sunset uvita costa rica

Sunset in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica, which is a short drive north of Uvita and free to access.

walking back to the entrance on Marina Balleno Park during sunset

Walking back to the entrance of Marino Ballena National Park after watching sunset from the Whale’s Tail. The distance doesn’t look so long from the air, but it’s quite a trek.

6. Palm trees and fresh coconut water everyday.

Palm trees line the shore at Marino Ballena National Park, Costa Rica.

Lush vegetation lines the shore at Marino Ballena National Park, Costa Rica.

7. Waterfalls.

The Uvita Waterfall is super accessible from town, just a short walk down some stairs. It costs 1,000 Colones per person because it’s on private land. It’s small, but the waters are crisp and perfect for cooling down in the sweltering jungle heat.

Nauyaca Waterfall is the most impressive waterfall I’ve ever seen. It’s about thirty minutes up the mountain and then a five kilometer hike in, but it is so beautiful and huge that the trip is totally worth it. The first time I saw it, it took my breath away and I immediately forgot about the blazing hot, uncomfortable, mostly uphill rocky hike.

If you want to ride horses to the waterfall, you can book that tour here.

If you’re hiking, the Nauyaca check in office is on the side of the highway and the cost is $8. Bring plenty of water (it’s hot!) and snacks if you are the hangry type.

Nauyaca Waterfall Costa Rica

Looking at the enormous upper waterfall at Nauyaca Waterfall, Costa Rica. That rock in the foreground to the left of center is like the height of two people!

Nauyaca Waterfalls Costa RIca

Looking down at the lower waterfall at Nauyaca Waterfalls, Costa Rica.

8. Abundant nature playgrounds to explore.

Playa Las Ventanas (Window Beach) is not far south of Uvita and has cool caves to explore. There are tons of different types of beaches with all manner of vegetation and rock formation.

an ocean cave costa rica

Mali and un gordito at the entrance to an ocean cave at Playa Las Ventanas – one of the free beaches along the South Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

9. Endless entertainment for the dogs.

This environment can actually be dangerous for them, too. Lots of opportunities for snake bites, ticks, crocodile chomps, infections, tropical diseases, etc. At least they’re having fun!

dog on fence costa rica

Mali waits patiently to pounce on a critter who is totally aware that she is there.

10. A short hike or drive up the mountain for breathtaking views.

The mountains are close to the coast in Uvita and make excellent spots for sunset happy hour.

sunset from the mountains, costa rica

A bird’s eye view of Uvita is just a few short minutes drive up a mountain. Toucans were flying all around during this sunset.

11. Great places to stay.

There are many different options for all types of travelers. You need to decide whether you want to stay up in the mountains with fresh breezes and stunning views, or down near the coast where it can get hot but you’re closer to the beach. You need 4wd for the mountains. A 2wd might make it to some of these places, but it’s not going to be pretty.

There are a couple of places I recommend searching for house rentals. You can find an entire house on VRBO and sometimes AirBnB. AirBnB is also good for finding an inexpensive room in someone’s home.
VRBO: Vacation rentals starting as low as $55/night – book online today!
AirBnB: Use my special link for a $42 credit on your first trip 🙂

These are places I recommend (click the link to go to their website or to Trip Advisor for reviews and pricing):


Flutterby House – awesome atmosphere, very close to beach

Tucan Hotel – chill, near the Uvita Waterfall

Mid Range Hotels:

El Paraiso de Cristian – Close to beach, accessible by 2wd

Hotel Luz De Luna Uvita – Close to beach, accessible by 2wd

Oxygen Jungle Villas – Up in the mountains with amazing views, need 4wd. Special 10% discount for De la Pura Vida readers! Use promo code DELAPURAVIDA when booking with their system here. Copy and paste DELAPURAVIDA into the promotional code box at the top right above the listings and click apply to have the price automatically reduced.

TikiVillas Rainforest Lodge – Adults only, up in mountains with fantastic views, need 4wd

Luxury Villas and Hotels:

These are all in the mountains and you need 4wd to get there.

Rancho Pacifico

Kura Design Villas

Vista Celestial

12. Scrumptious places to eat.

There are some super delicious places to eat in Uvita:

  • Wings and margaritas at Jolly Rogers
  • The menu of the day at Flutterby House, sometimes the jungle juice hehe
  • Envision pizza at La Luna Restaurant
  • Sandwiches and Costa Rica craft beer at Roadshack, plus the occasional live music
  • Tacos and friendly chats at the Taco Truck
  • Donuts from GringO’s Donuts

Plus, thirty minutes south is Ojochal, which is a town full of top notch restaurants (and not much else) serving a variety of international food. It was a lot of fun going to a town in the middle of the jungle, and dining in a restaurant with an exotic luxury aesthetic.

Have you been to Uvita? What was your favorite experience there?


*Some of the links above are affiliate links which means I get a tiny percentage of the sale if you purchase through the link and it doesn’t cost you a cent more. It’s like giving me a free coffee. I only use affiliate links on products, services, or places that I would recommend regardless.
Uvita, Costa Rica, home of the Annual Whale and Dolphin Festival - the best place to see whales! Uvita is great for relaxing, eating out, exploring waterfalls and beaches, and going on adventure tours.

Uvita, Costa Rica, home of the Annual Whale and Dolphin Festival – the best place to see whales! Uvita is great for relaxing, eating out, exploring waterfalls and beaches, and going on adventure tours.