Costa Rica never ceases to amaze me. No matter how many corners of this beautiful country I explore, there is always something new waiting for me down the road.
Bahía Ballena is a perfect example of Costa Rica´s endless wonder. This park is located in the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica near Zona Ballena (or Whale Zone). It is considered to be a part of Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, a reservation that was created in 1990. This area is known for the whales and dolphins that migrate through its waters between the months of December and March of each year.
At 8 a.m., we arrived to the park. After receiving a brief introduction and reviewing safety regulations, we embarked on a small trip out to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, we met up with some local fisherman who told us that there had been a whale sighting not far from where they were working. In a hurry, we took off to catch a glance of these majestic creatures. We were in luck because it was unusual to site whales on this side of the coast because of their migration schedules.
However, we arrived in time to see a mother and her calf swimming together. The experience was breathtaking. I had never seen such a large creature, especially up close and in its natural environment. Despite their gargantuan size, the mother and her calf were very gentle. To me, it seemed that they welcomed our presence. In fact, with each time they surfaced, they moved closer and closer to our boat. Every once in a while, water sprouted from their blowholes to signal that had come up for air. Though I saw very little of their bodies, it was enough to stimulate my imagination about the image of these prehistoric titans that remained submerged in the water. This game of peek-a-boo carried on until the whales eventually disappeared into the deep-blue sea.
After our encounter with the whales, we went snorkeling near Ballena Rock. Ballena Rock is a semi-island that sits off in the distance from the beach. It has an abundance of lush plantlife and caves. We snorkeled in the shallow waters around it to check out the animals that lived there. I was fortunate enough to see a few fish and a sting ray that was resting on the ocean floor.
To top off the adventure, we went looking for dolphins. I have to admit that I didn´t think we would get lucky twice in one day, but we did. The dolphins were swimming in pairs, jumping in and out of the water as the boats raced behind them. In the distance, we saw a baby dolphin turning tricks in the air. Apparently, they can propel themselves from the water, 5 to 7 meters in the air to be exact. That´s incredible! Needless to say, I was blown away by the sight of our aquatic amigos twirling about; it was like nothing I had ever seen before. Honestly, it felt like something out of a Disney movie, except there was no music from the Jonas Brothers.
The following day, we took a trip to the national park of Manuel Antonio. A spontaneous visit to this tropical paradise was just what we needed. Inside the park, there was another beach; the water was crystal clear, and there was a nice breeze that had picked up momentum. In addition to the tranquil sound of waves washing ashore, we also crossed paths with some extraordinary wildlife. Monkeys and raccoons greeted us at the gate. To my surprise, these animals weren´t shy around humans at all. In fact, they didn´t mind searching through our bags for food. After snapping a few pictures, we grabbed something to eat and headed back home.
Although I was pretty exhausted when we returned to San José, I was quite elated to share what I saw with my host family. All in all, I must say that Bahia Ballena and Manuel Antonia have been the best places I have visited so far. I can only imagine what comes next.
Written by Christopher Johnson, Social Media Journalist