10 Gems of Costa Rica's Southern Zone

Blogs by A Cruising Couple's Column
Last updated:: 9:00 PM ET, Thu February 25, 2016

Photos by A Cruising Couple unless otherwise noted

The beauty of Costa Rica is hardly a secret. Over 2.4 million tourists choose to explore the endless adventures in this small Central American country every year. Unfortunately, a vast majority never make it farther south than the tourist town of Manuel Antonio. Which is a shame, because there are plenty of gems that await those willing to make the extra effort.

Here are 10 gems you can't miss in Costa Rica's Southern Zone:

1. The Whale's Tail

The famous colla de ballena (whale's tale) at Uvita was washed out by the tsunami in Japan on March 11

Photo via Flickr/Mle-Mle

This incredible natural sandbar stretches one kilometer out into the Pacific Ocean and resembles the shape of a whale's tail. At low tide, you can walk all the way to the point. There are also multiple restaurants and hotels in the surrounding hills where you can get an aerial view.

2. Nauyaca Waterfall

Nauyaca Waterfalls Costa Rica

Arguably the most beautiful waterfall in the entire country, this magnificent two-tiered cataract lies between Dominical and San Isidro. You can opt to either hike or horseback ride to the falls, but be sure to bring a bathing suit so you can swim in the pool below the waterfall.

READ MORE: How Costa Rica Is Using Earthquakes to Attract Tourists

3. Playa Arco

At low tide, when the water recedes, the caves and natural arches along Playa Arco are a spectacular sight. Follow these directions to access the somewhat hidden beach.

4. Pavones

Pavones Costa Rica

Photo via Flickr/Costa Rica Troubadour

For those who love surfing but aren't satisfied with those typical three to five-second rides, Pavones is for you. When the waves hit Pavones just right, surfers can ride up to two minutes for a full kilometer.

5. Chirripo


Photo via Flickr/Richard May CR

The beaches aren't the only place to play in Costa Rica's Southern Zone. Chirripo, Costa Rica's highest peak, is a highly sought-after hike that passes stunning vistas to the summit where, on a clear day, you can see both the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans. Be sure to apply for a permit in advance, as slots may be full for months.

6. Mysterious Spheres

Pre-Columbian stone spheres

Photo via Flickr/Anita Gould

Easter Island has its statues, but did you know Costa Rica has its own unexplained objects? These perfectly shaped spheres are found scattered throughout the Southern Zone of Costa Rica. No one is entirely sure how or why they were made.

7. Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park River

The crown jewel of Costa Rica's national park system, the tiny landmass of Corcovado, holds roughly 2.5 percent of the entire world's biodiversity. Check out our full guide to visiting Corcovado National Park.

8. Boruca Tribe

the craftsman

Photo via Flickr/Fabio Bretto

The self-governing indigenous tribe is located high in the Talamanca Mountains. While the tribe and the reserve is invitation only, you'll likely see their signature handiwork, the Boruca mask, in nearly every souvenir shop.

9. Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

Ant eater

The Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary helps all injured animals such as those injured in road accidents and power line electrocutions as well as unstable animals that have been captured by the government from the illegal animal trade. The main focus of the sanctuary is to nurse these animals back to health and prepare them to be released back into the wild. Monkeys, sloths, parrots, toucans and more are all rehabilitated at the sanctuary.

READ MORE: Costa Rican Animals Want To 'Save the Americans'

10. Pavones Waterfall

Pavones waterfall

This otherworldly looking waterfall has a perfectly placed boulder sitting precariously between two cliffs. It reminds us a lot of the Kjeragbolten in Norway, though on a significantly smaller scale.

These are just ten unique attractions waiting to be discovered in Costa Rica's lesser-known southern zone. Have you been to any of them? What was your favorite?

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Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me