Costa RicaCosta Rica

Day 7: The Whale's Tail

Destination: Dominical

Today would be the last hurrah of my two-week adventure through Cerro de la Muerte and the Dominical area. I headed south to explore the scenic beaches of Dominicalito, Playa Hermosa, Uvita and Ballena.

In Dominicalito, a young couple caught their first waves with the help of a local instructor. Whether beginner or advanced, surfers have plenty of options along the South Pacific Coast, where beach breaks, rocky points and the whim of the tides offer gentle swells or challenging rides.

Beginning with Playa Uvita, the Costa Ballena encompasses a stretch of beautiful and rugged shoreline, where lush mountains form the backdrop to a chain of laid-back seaside communities. Many visitors have fallen in love with the region and later relocated permanently.

Canadians, Germans, French and Americans make up the bulk of the ex-pat population. One benefit of such an international community is a selection of fabulous bakeries and restaurants nestled along the coastal highway.

In Uvita, I shifted into low and drove up a winding mountain road, following signs to Whales and Dolphins Ecolodge, my final destination for the day. Located 10.5 miles south of Dominical on a bluff overlooking the sea, Whales and Dolphins has the best panoramic view of the Costa Ballena.

From every angle I could see the famous rock formation of Punta Uvita, which perfectly resembles a whale's tail. Even through a slight tropical haze, the cerulean sea gleamed against the serpentine coast. I absorbed the vista from the terrace, which featured an infinity pool alongside an al fresco bar and restaurant.

Hotel staff will gladly arrange tours to local attractions, but I was tour-weary and chose to relax and enjoy the comforts of my plush suite. Each of the lodge's 20 rooms comes equipped with wireless internet, satellite TV, minibar, safe and private balcony. However, the panorama is the real highlight.

Following an afternoon swim, I treated myself to room service and a bottle of wine in celebration of my adventures in this beautiful part of the country.

With pretty beaches, rugged mountains and amazing biodiversity, the lightly-tread Dominical and Costa Ballena are soon to become a favorite vacation destination among travelers.

Day 7: The Whale's Tail in Pictures