Visit the “Secret” Beaches and Waterfalls of Costa Ballena

Sometimes you just want to get out and see natural attractions without all the crowds and entrance fees.  Although there are numerous public beaches in the Costa Ballena area of the zona sur in Costa Rica, some can feel relatively busy during high season.  Some beaches, notably the beaches that make up the Marino Ballena National Park, also have an entrance fee that can add up quickly.

Because you are thinking of moving to the area, I wanted to let you in on a taste of just a few “secrets” that locals like to visit.  This is just a sampling, so come on down and explore!  Be sure to stop by our RE/MAX – We Sell Paradise office across from the entrance to Ojochal, ask for Chris and say HOLA!  We can provide the latest property listings and help you find the property of your dreams.


North Playa Tortuga

The entrance is unmarked and you would likely miss it unless you are looking for it.  Approaching the entrance while driving south on the highway is easiest.  Drive south from Uvita towards Ojochal on Costanera Sur (highway 34) and just past Playa Ventanas you will see an closed gas station to your left which means you are really close.  Continue south and as you crest the hill and head downhill you will see a highway bridge, just before the bridge to the right you will see a dirt road and that is the entrance.  Drive down the dirt road to the end and you will find the beach.  GPS coordinates of the entrance:  9°04’56.9″N 83°39’55.2″W.  If you pass Restaurant Fusion, you have gone too far.


Villa Leonor

This one is not quite as secret, but it is often overlooked and not easy to find so it is typically deserted.  The beach is behind the Villa Leonor restaurant at km marker 170 on Costanera Sur between Uvita and Ojochal.  Drive south down the highway from Uvita and you will see a sign for Villa Leonor, follow the road towards the ocean and you will find this gem.  Villa Leonor is nearby, but the beach is typically empty.  Be sure to stop in for a bite and/or a drink at the restaurant while you are there the food is pretty good.  GPS coordinates of the entrance:  9°06’52.3″N 83°41’37.2″W


Playa Colonia

Colonia is part of the Marino Ballena National Pak and is a fairly long beach.  The Playa Colonia entrance is at the far southern end of the beach and is typically deserted.  The entrance is unmarked and easy to miss.  Head south down the costanera (highway 34) from Uvita and as you leave town you will see La Jungla Colono hardware store to the left and you are close.  Continuing south, to the right you will see signs for Ballena Azul bar with a couple dirt roads and some small homes – take the road that is furthest south end of this area.  The road is gravel/dirt and very bumpy so drive slow and follow it to the end where you will find a small dirt parking area.  Part and walk a little ways up the path towards the ocean and you will find a wide open, flat beach that is typically deserted.  GPS coordinates of the entrance:  9°09’01.8″N 83°43’30.6″W


Isla Garza

This beach is spectacular, but difficult to reach because it requires a boat ride and can be hard to arrange some days.  The beach is bordered by coconut palms and has pristine, fine, tan sand.  Travel south down the costanera (highway 34) from Ojochal until you come to the Boca Coronado restaurant.  At the restaurant, inquire to hire a water taxi.  Hiring a water taxi can be hit or miss, but should run roughly $5 per head and you need to make sure you arrange for round trip transport.  GPS coordinates of Boca Coronado:  9°04’07.9″N 83°39’13.2″W



Poza Azul

The waterfall is located in Dominicalito, just south of Dominical.  Drive south from Dominical on the costanera (highway 34) and keep an eye out for a Dominicalito sign and you will see a bus stop to the left.  Drive through the village, over a little bridge, and then turn right after the bridge.  Just a minute up the road, you should see a sign for Poza Azul (although it disappears occasionally, presumably to keep it locals-only) and a parking area to the left side of the road.  Park and cross the road and go down the hill.  Note it can be a difficult walk, so be prepared by wearing good walking/hiking shoes.


El Pavon

The waterfall is located just south of Ojochal in Punta Mala.  Drive south on the costanera (highway 34) and keep an eye out for signs to the El Pavon Tilapia Farm and Restaurant to the left side of the highway near Punta Mala.  Follow the signs to the restaurant and just before the restaurant you will see a small sign and parking area for Cascada el Pavon.  Park here and follow the trail down to the waterfall.


Note that some of these are in very secluded locations, so always be aware of your surroundings and keep valuables out of sight.

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