Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Thu November 05 2015

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  • A Cruising Couple | November 5, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    The Ultimate Guide to Whale Watching in Costa Rica

    The Ultimate Guide to Whale Watching in Costa Rica

    All photos by A Cruising Couple

    Whale watching is an incredible opportunity to experience some of the world’s largest and most impressive animals up close in nature, while also doing your part to support the local community. According to the WDC, whale watching can be immensely beneficial to both the whale and the observer—allowing for an enriching experience in nature while providing local communities with revenue that doesnt rely on killing or capturing the whales.

    Of course, whale watching is also a lot of fun! If you’re wondering where to go to see these majestic creatures up-close, then look no farther than Costa Rica.

    Why Costa Rica?

    Costa Rica is a tropical paradise known for its diverse wildlife. It’s a perfect place to get out in nature and see incredible animals in their natural habitats. When whale watching in Costa Rica, it’s not just whales you should keep an eye out for, but a vast array of species such as dolphins, sea turtles, or even Pelamis Platuras—an extremely poisonous yellow-bellied sea snake.

    However, perhaps the best reason to choose Costa Rica for your whale watching experience is the humpback whales. Humpback whales migrate through the Pacific Ocean near the Southern part of Costa Rica twice each year. If you go on a whale watching tour during migration, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see a humpback.

    What’s even better is that during migration seasons, mothers will often camp out in shallow waters with their babies for the warm temperatures. Baby humpbacks are extremely curious, and these highly intelligent animals will be just as interested in you as you are of them!

    Whale Watching Costa Rica


    National Geographic has also listed Costa Rica as one of the best places for whale watching in the world, due to the unique fact that humpback whales migrate off the country’s coast twice a year.

    Choosing a Tour

    Unfortunately, not all whale watching tours are created equal. Some tour companies lack the sound structure needed to observe these animals peacefully, and neglect key whale watching guidelines designed to keep these extraordinary mammals safe. It’s important to do a little research before choosing a tour guide. We would never want these amazing creatures to be harmed in the wake of our enjoyment! The WDC—advocates for the rights of whales and dolphins—has come out with this easy article to help you get started in choosing the right tour agency. They include some basic things to look for, such as tours that include an onboard naturalist, are highly professional at all times, and follow whale watching government regulations.

    We chose Bahia Adventures for our whale watching experience, and we were very pleased with the wealth of information from the naturalist guide, as well as the obvious respect the tour agency has for the whales and their habitat.

    Humpback Whale Watching Costa Rica

    When & Where to Go

    This fantastic map will give you a general idea of what types of whales and dolphins can be found in different areas around Costa Rica. Several species can be seen all year long, but if you’re particularly enthralled by the humpback whales, you’ll want to come during one of their migration seasons.

    They migrate twice each year through the pacific, near the Costa Rica’s Southern Zone, every July through November and every December through April. This is also the ideal time to see a mother with her baby.

    What to Expect

    Actually, the less you expect the better! Sometimes you don’t see any whales, and sometimes you see them right next to your boat. It’s impossible to know exactly what you will or won’t see, so keep expectations low in the beginning. At the very minimum, you will have a great time out on the boat enjoying the fresh Costa Rican breeze and seeing some gorgeous views of the lush green landscape and tall dramatic cliffs!

    Natural Window Costa Rica

    Whale watching is an unforgettable experience. Seeing these incredibly intelligent animals will definitely give you a renewed appreciation for nature and wildlife. With a little research and some planning, you can be well on your way to experiencing one of Earth’s most fascinating animals in a way that is both eco-friendly and safe for you and the whales.

More Costa Rica


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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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