NATURE TOURS & BIRD WATCHING
Costa Rica is bursting at the seams with nature — however, if you don’t know where to go or what to look for, you might miss the most spectacular sights. Led by English-speaking naturalist guides, guided tours provide travelers with the sort of hands-on education one demands while exploring new territory. We can recommend a guided tour for various parks in our area – Ballena Marine National Park (18 km), Manuel Antonio (37 km), Chirripó National Park (50 km), Cano Island (60 km) and the Corcovado National Park (152 km).
Owing both to a temperate climate and an environment that is rich in fruits and flowers, close to nearly 840 species of birds can be found here, ranging from Scarlet Macaws to resplendent quetzals to Keel-billed Toucans.
The surf in Costa Rica is unlike anywhere in the world, and in Playa Dominical, it is one of the main attractions that bring travelers to the area. There are surf activities for every level whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced surfer. Along with Playa Dominical, there are many other beaches within a 15-minute drive that are accessible for surfing as well.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Paddling on a board to “Punta Uvita” (Whales Tail), Three sister & Ballena Island in Dominicalito or Ventanas Beach are all wonderful tours, giving a gorgeous and less-seen view of the lush green mountains from the water, and it is a very peaceful-yet-invigorating way to spend a few hours.
Kayaking in the Mangroves allows travelers to explore these complex waterways from the security of a kayak, with the company of a naturalist guide. These guides both educate passengers on the important biological relationships at work in the mangrove, as well as help spot critters along the way. A great variety of animals reside within this habitat, including caimans, snakes, monkeys, iguanas, and several species of birds
Ship out to the open ocean for a half-day spent searching for and observing impressive marine mammals, including dolphins, whales, sea turtles and manta rays. You might see a 40-ton humpback whale breaching or spot a pod of bottlenose dolphins leaping alongside your boat. In the water below, keep your eyes focused for rays or sea turtles gliding gracefully onward. Birders will be pleased as well, as a great variety of avian species can be observed along rocky coastal formations. These tours, which depart from Uvita are led by a bilingual guide and occasionally are a part of combination tours that can include snorkelling, hiking, and beach time.
Deep Sea Fishing
Costa Rica is famous for its sport fishing and there are some excellent charter operators in the area. The region offers Sailfish, Marlin, Dorado, Tuna, Jacks, Bonito, Sierra Mackerel, Wahoo amongst others, dependent on location and time of year.
Scuba & Snorkelling
Caño Island, 60 km away, is a protected marine island is often referred to as “Mini Cocos Island” and is within a massive Pacific Ocean current, which makes it one of the most amazing marine islands in the world for both scuba or snorkelling.
Ballena National Park, 20 km away, is one of the least explored marine gems in the world, with a reef system made up of over 70 breathtaking kilometers of rock pinnacles, islands, reef walls and underwater sea mounts.
Thanks to the surrounding mountainous landscape the South Pacific, there are several wonderful waterfall tours available from Costa Paraiso. Nauyaca Falls (10 km) is a wonderful two and a half hour horseback riding tour that will guide you through Costa Rica’s amazing landscapes of lush rainforest greenery and rich biodiversity. Poza Azul (walking distance) is located close to the village of Escaleras in the quiet town of Dominicalito. It boasts inviting crystal waters at the feet of a beautiful waterfall and is home to several sloths, monkeys and other rainforest wildlife. These are just a couple of the many waterfalls near Costa Paraiso.
Zip Line Tours
What better way to experience the paradise of Dominical than by zip lining over the tree tops of Costa Rica’s rainforest?! Canopy tours are an excellent way to get the adrenaline pumping while getting up close and personal with nature. Because of the untouched terrain that surrounds Dominical, a canopy tour through these magnificent rain forests is like none other you may experience while on vacation in Costa Rica.
Rafting options exist for all ages and abilities, and can range from manoeuvring through technical rapids to gliding along smooth stretches that are ideal for nature watching. Professional guides attend the adventures and ensure that all experiences are safe, fun and memorable.
Rappelling or Canyoning
Rappelling tours are a fun, safe and exciting way to experience some of Costa Rica’s most magnificent landscapes. The sport, also known as canyoning, involves a controlled descent down a rock face using a secured rope, within a waterfall. Professionally trained Canyoneers manage the tours, so no experience is necessary.
Horseback tours allow travelers to experience several spectacular places within the course of a few hours. Whether you want to explore beautiful waterfalls or experience a sunset ride on the beach, there are various tours to meet your needs. Inexperienced riders are welcomed, and tours can be arranged for both private individuals and larger groups.
Costa Rica’s terrain – of forests, mountains, plains and beaches – provides both beautiful scenery and exceptional features for riding ATVs. ATV tours offer travelers a safe and exciting way to access some of the country’s most magnificent landscapes; you’ll travel to farms and waterfalls, across fields and through rainforests. Stops are frequently made for swimming or eating, where trained bilingual guides will often point out native plant and animal species.
Paragliding & Skydiving
For the adventure lover in you, there is skydiving or paragliding. Skydiving takes place around Quepos and the paragliding tours go out of Dominical. Both options are available for beginners as a tandem dive. Best way to see all the beauty of the region.
Located 5 minutes (2 km) drive or 15 minute walk, is the laid-back surf village of Dominical which has been known for years by surfers from around the world due to its consistently good waves. The beach is about 2 km long, from its northern river mouth to a rocky cliff on its southern end. A beach break with surf scattered along the entire stretch of beach, it offers the most consistent surf in the region (and possibly in the country) and when the swell gets good it’s known to offer up hollow and powerful waves. The best waves are typically found between the lifeguard towers and the river mouth on the north end.
This small, beautiful bay is located south of Dominical right outside our door. If you are not ready to surf Dominical, this beach is an option as the surf is well protected by the bay in Dominicalito. The bottom of the bay is sandy, but there are several big rocks, so it should be surfed closer to high tide. It is a great beach for walking on low tide.
Living up to its name of “Beautiful Beach”, Playa Hermosa is just a 10-minute drive south of the hotel. Bordered by a breathtaking jungle cliff on your right and the beginning of the Marino Ballena National Park to the south, this secluded and little known scenic palm-lined tropical beach is backed by dramatic rainforest covered mountains. It is perfect for horseback riding, beach combing, sunbathing and in the evening watching the bright orange sunsets as it disappears into the sea. On night visits to the beach between May and November Olive Ridley and hawksbill turtles can be seen laying their eggs.
The waves break in two general areas: directly in front of the parking area and on the north end of the beach by the rocky hill that juts out into the water. A surf spot that is best suited for intermediate-level surfers, this break also provides fun waves for the experienced surfer. The spot can also be acceptable for beginners, so don’t be surprised to find groups of beginners from nearby surf schools out at Playa Hermosa from time to time.
Playa Arco & Bahia Ballena Beaches In Ballena National Marine Park.
Playa Arco and Bahía Ballena beaches are also located in the Ballena National Marine Park and only about 15 minutes south of Costa Paraiso.
Playa Arco is a small pristine white sand beach protected by a primary forest. The beach, which also has a small cave can be accessed during low tide. Off shore from Playa Ballena you will spot the stunning islands known as “Las Tres Hermanas” (The Three Sisters) and “Ballena” (Whale) - these are made up of rocky formations that have depth of between 6 and 20 meters, making it home to many species including lobsters and barracudas. The island is also home to nesting reptiles and colonies of birds like the brown booby (Sula leucogaster), the white ibis (Eudocimus albus). The beach has long gentle waves, which are perfect for learning how to surf or boogie board. The surf at Bahia Ballena is quite consistent with soft-breaking waves averaging about three to five feet in height (chest to head-high) and offering length of rides up to 150 yards long. In addition, the crowds are pretty much non-existent and safety risks are minimal. All these factors make Bahia Ballena a well-suited surf break for beginner and intermediate surfers.
A fifteen-minute drive from Costa Paraiso will take you to the entrance to the Ballena Marine National Park. Just before you enter the park, there is a small fisherman’s village where you can sample freshly caught delicious seafood with a nice cold drink at one of the local soda restaurants. Though Uvita is not known for having great waves, it is an excellent place for beginner and intermediate surfers to continue developing their surfing ability. With a consistent offer of waves, no crowds whatsoever, and relatively safe ocean conditions for novices, Uvita is the place to learn to surf in the South Pacific. On this long sandy beach bordering the Marine National Park you can walk out to Punta Uvita “El Tombolo” also known as the “Whales Tail” during low tide. This is a small island rock formation of coral reefs that are being slowly reclaimed as sand and debris deposit forming a land bridge of about 1 km in length. From the air this rocky formation looks like the tail of a whale. “El Tombolo” is a hike that definitively should not be missed!
Snorkelling is possible from the shore and diving and snorkelling boat trips are easily arranged to several of the smaller islands. You will discover a pristine and fascinating underwater world with a multitude of bright and colourful fish and other marine creatures as well as amazing living coral reefs with sponges and various crustaceans.
A 25-minute drive south will take you to Playa Ventanas named after the beautiful sea caves in the volcanic rock, which are accessible from the beach.
Two caves extend from the beach out to the ocean and during low tides you can walk all the way into the caves leading to another small beach, local legend says there is a hidden pirate treasure here! During high tide with the correct conditions the waves crashing through the caves form a “blowhole” effect, which is a spectacular sight.