The Foreign Exchange
Expat Exchange
Expat Exchange
A World of Friend Abroad
Costa Ballena, Costa RicaDecember 5, 2022

The stretch of coastline in Puntarenas Province, called Costa Ballena, is home to a number of beautiful beaches and noted for the relatively large enclave of north American and foreign baby boomers, retirees and expats residents. Ballena means "whale" in Spanish and this area is the mating area of the humpback whales seasonally from December to April. Additionally, there a whale's tail shaped beach that juts off the coastline in Marino Ballena National Park in Uvita.

Why do people move to Costa Ballena?

"We have a great international expat community. Ojochal, Uvita and Dominical are considered to be the southern Pacific Region of Costa Rica. The cost of living is lower here than in many other parts of Costa Rica and the pace of life is slower and more relaxing. We have a pot luck brunch in town, pizza night at a local restaurant and a local farmer's market on Saturdays. The is a small denomination of Catholics in town, some mennonites and a few Pageans :'). We have amazing cultural diversity and there is ample economic opportunity due to the high rate of growth in the area. Thera is a lot of construction related work in high end custom homes," wrote one member in Ojochal.

Where are the Best Places to Live in Costa Ballena?

Expats in Costa Ballena typically recommend Dominical, Uvita and Ojochal. One member described Uvita, "While much less developed, this is an extremely beautiful area and the expat community is relatively established there. While it is more humid with more wet weather that the Northern Coast, it is the only area where the mountains drop onto the beach. Therefore, you can pick your altitude in order to control your temperature and still have the ocean views and a short trip to the beach". Steve Linder wrote about Ojochal, "The area around Ojochal is home to nearly 30 bars and restaurants including 2 French bakeries, a few Italian and pizza parlors, Thai, Mexican, Argentine steaks, French, German, Indonesian, Indian, Cuisine of the world and local fare. The local expat enclave has also created a large market for organic foods, great spices, organic dairy products, free range chicken, grass fed beef and fresh local seafood. There are a number of farmers markets and local produce stands and some of the best ingredients are available along this stretch of the southern coast."

Where are the Best Beaches in Costa Ballena?

In Steve Linder's article, The Costa Ballena Region of Costa Rica, he describes a number of his favorite beaches in the area. Here's a highlight: "A bit further south is Playa Hermosa, a locals favorite, with palm lined parking right off the highway, a decent surf but okay for swimming as well. There's usually a few vendors selling food, ceviche and drinks and the beach can get busy on the weekends. Playa Uvita is accessed through the town of Uvita and is part of the Playa Ballena Marine National Park. An entrance fee is charged to access this beach in Uvita and this entrance is close to the location of the famous "whales tail". The whales tail is a spit of sand where a northern current meets a southern current and had formed the sand into a large formation that looks just like a whales tail from the air. It is quite large and worth a visit." Linder cautions readers that rip currents are common on the Pacific coast.

Are there Bilingual Schools in Costa Ballena?

Escuela Verde in Costa Ballena is located in Uvita and 15 minutes north of Ojochal. Escuela Verde is a bilingual, Montessori-style, private school for students from pre-K through 6th grade. One parent described the school saying, "The buildings are new. There are computer facilities, the buildings are all open and airy, what the facility lacks in physical aspects is more than made up for by the dedicated staff and excellent curriculum. There are outside events, nature related, clean ups, hikes, etc. The school offers classes in both Spanish and English and all students are exposed to both languages."