Whales and dolphins of Drake Bay

From Manuel Antonio we headed further south towards Drake Bay and the Osa Peninsula. In the dry season Drake Bay can be reached by a dirt road that crosses the mountains and several rivers. But since the rains were just about to start we decided not to risk getting rained in, parked the car at Sierpe and took the boat up the Río Sierpe instead.

whale-watching in Drake bay, Costa Rica

Deserted beach

The boat ride was practically a mangrove tour in itself, which was great for those who haven’t seen the mangroves before. Though once we paddled out into the ocean, it became more of a wild adventure ride with some serious swells crushing onto the rocks that were jutting out of the water between our navigational path and the coast. Thankfully the boat driver was an absolute champion and navigated the waves with such skill that he got a wild round of applause from everyone on board. Must’ve been the adrenaline from the near death experience.

Arriving at Drake Bay

Drake Bay itself is a laid back backwater town well off the beaten track. Its main claim to fame is as the departure point for Corcovado National Park that takes up most of the Osa Peninsula. The bay is also a good place for whale watching and none of us needed much convincing to spend a day on the ocean.

Spotted dolphins

Pantropical spotted dolphins

Spotted dolphins

Pantropical spotted dolphins

We took off bright and early and within half an hour our boat was surrounded by a pod of Pantropical spotted dolphins. Slightly further out we came across a female Humpback whale with a young calf. We followed them for a while but the whales decided to keep a low profile and stayed mainly below the surface.

Humpback whale

Humpback whale

Humpback whales (female and calf) in Drake Bay, Costa Rica

Humpback whales (female and calf)



Back on terra firma we spotted some Scarlet macaws and a very excited Cherrie’s tanager that was flirting with a side view mirror of a parked truck. Apparently, the frog night walk is quite good at Drake Bay as well, but we had a meeting with our Corcovado guide in the evening and a 5.30am departure the following morning, so we turned in quite early.

Cherrie's tanager

Cherrie’s tanager

Variable seedeater

Variable seedeater


Species List Drake Bay

More images in Costa Rica Gallery

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One Comment

  1. Cyrus Erel October 22, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    WOW! Your photo’s of Drake Bay are really spectacular. Clear, bright and alive.

    I have friends who have a small piece of land way down on the beach, about a 30 minute walk from the dock..they put up a tent and built a cooking pit out of bricks. They have these lemon trees just loaded with fruit, the lemons are green on the outside and orange on the inside. I have to tell you I had NO idea what fruit really tasted like until I lived in CR. You can’t compare the fruit we get in Canadian supermarkets to the fruit I tasted down there. That was a real surprise to me because I thought what I was getting locally was the real thing. It’s not.

    I spent a good 4 months on that beach, between Puerto Cortes (now called Ciudad Cortes), Sierpe and Drake.

    In closing I want to tell/ask you something. Did you know the correct way to pronounce Drake is not like the explorer? The name Drake rhymes with
    Tacky! Not a lot of people know that…

    Thanks for the great images, I really enjoyed them!


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