According to Google Maps the drive to Uvita should take about 3 1/2 hours under normal driving conditions. Just over 5 hours later we arrived at our Airbnb cabin in the woods. It was 350 degrees outside with 10,000% humidity and a haze of dust hanging in the air from the the cars flying down the nearby gravel road.
Just before arriving at our cabin we had stopped at a nearby Super Mercado and bought some yogurt, granola, 250 grams of ground coffee, a few cans of beer, a bottle of wine and some peanuts. We walked out $75.00 CAD lighter in our pockets!
On our way to our cabin we noticed a Bar/Restaurant so after getting organized we made a b-line to several cold cerveza’s, some buffalo wings and then some chicken fingers because they mistook fajitas for fingers.
It was a local Soda (restaurant), the music was good and the people were friendly so I knew I had a spot to sit and contemplate life and work on the blog and daydream after my late afternoon showers while Joyce would relax and read.
Uvita de Osa is on the coastline known as Bahia Ballena and is home to Marino Ballena National Park and a beach that seems to go on forever and is famous for the “Whale Tail”, a giant rock and sand formation that forms a perfect whale tail during low tide in an area where humpback whales congregate.
We spent three nights in our cabin so this gave us two full days to explore the park area, the beach and whale tail and the small tourist village near the entrance to the park.
All of the the exploration to be had around the area was in Marino Ballena National Park. The park is the first Costa Rican protected wilderness area created esclusively for it’s marine resources. Our first day was spent wandering the beach and walking between the tail of fhe whale while the tide was low. It was extremely hot and humid so we made sure to go to the park early and leave the park early.
The park is a tropical rainforest and although we were there during the dry season and animal sightings can be limited our hike the next day through the forest was still filled with some of the smaller amazing ant goings on and a small Boa constrictor in a tree. However just being in the forest and slowly wandering the path through the palms and tropical flora was relaxing and rejuvenating.
Quepos was a relatively short drive from Uvita and is generally the town where one stays when visiting Manuel Antonio National Park, the most visited national park in Costa Rica. The area also hosts some nice beaches.
We stayed at a nice hotel, Tres Banderas, which was located about 6 km away from the park and had a nice swimming pool, restaurant and bar. We booked two nights and arrived early afternoon so we had all of the next day to explore the park. We had a later lunch and then hung around the pool for awhile, had the obligatory mid-afternoon snooze and then enjoyed some bevies and a nice dinner before hitting the hay early to be prepared for a 7:15 am pick up to take us to the park for a private guided tour.
We were quoted $57 USD each for a ride to the park, admission to the park and then a ride back to our hotel. For $90 USD each we could have all of that AND a private guide which we were told was the best way to go because you will get to see all of the creatures great and small that your average unguided person will miss.
If we had decided to just go ourselves, pay about $20 USD return for a taxi from our hotel and $36 USD for two for entrance fees to the park it would have cost us $56 USD.
Instead, we went the private guide route, spent $180 USD plus a $20 USD tip for a grand total of $200 USD for what turned out to be a complete waste of money.
According to our guide, and we hope he was accurate because we paid enough money for his expertise, before Covid the park would allow up to 5,000 visitors per day. This seemed high to us. After Covid, they reduced the numbers to 2,000 per day and tickets had to be purchased on-line so the daily numbers could be controlled. So, the tour companies stated buying up all of the tickets which affected anyone who wanted to go to the park without a tour company. So, they upped the numbers to 3,000 per day and when we approached the main entrance the huge crowds of people became apparent.
For not much more than two hours us, our guide and literally hundreds of other wandered along a wide gravel road. Every few metres crowds huddled around their guides viewing scope, squinting into the lens to try to see some tiny lizard or frog. Others would of course stop and congregate because there must be something great to see so huge people-log-jams would happen.
Our guide would stop, speak to the other guide(s), look around, set up his scope and then show us a tiny undiscernible life form that required the vision of a 20 year old to see. This is how our time was spent. It was awful and we seriously would not recommend this park, at least for the time of year we were there which was dry season in February.
We saw, through our guides scope, a small frog, a lizard, an iguana, a hermit crab, a couple of bats and a sloth way in the distance.
Think twice before hiring a guide.
Jaco was also a fairly short drive and we arrived early to an Airbnb that we booked on-line. This was our third ever Airbnb and most likely our last. We don’t know but somehow they just never live up to their descriptions.
There really isn’t any point in getting into the drama with this place but we will say one thing. When the host tells you that you can use the bathroom sink to wash your dishes and they don’t even supply dish soap or a wash cloth then something really isn’t right about this.
Jaco came across as a little rough around the edges. More people asked if you wanted to buy weed and there seemed to be a larger contingent of women who had shall we say, revealing outfits that you might see in some south east Asian countries.
We spent a few hours the second day on the beach. We didn’t want to pay $20 USD for beach chairs but we did. The beach was okay, we didn’t take any pictures and the next day we headed off to Nuevo Arenal.