Uvita is everything you imagine when you think of Costa Rica. The beaches are beautiful long stretches. The forests are dense and jungle-ish. The waterfalls are plentiful. The people are the sweetest.
At first, I was a bit sad that Uvita doesn’t have a cute downtown area like some other towns in Costa Rica, but then Thomas reminded me that this just means the town hasn’t been completely taken over by tourists yet. He’s right, but tourism is definitely increasing!
Uvita is a great place if you want a relaxed vibe while exploring some amazing Costa Rican gems.
Uvita follows the same weather patterns as it’s neighboring beaches. You can expect the weather to be ridiculously hot and rain-free from late December until the end of April.
After that, from May until mid-August, you can expect hot and humid weather with a daily afternoon thunderstorm.
From mid-August until the end of December the weather is kind of up in the air. Some days may be complete washouts and other may be completely fine.
Uvita is a beach town, but it is backed up by jungle and mountains. Sometimes thick fog comes in off the mountains.
Getting to Uvita
Your best option for getting to Uvita, Costa Rica is to fly into San Jose airport and drive down. The drive will take about four hours depending on traffic.
You have two options for driving, you can either drive down the coastal road or through the mountains.
The coastal road involves well-maintained highways the whole way down. You will pass by the beach towns of Jaco, Manuel Antonio, and Dominical on your drive down. On a sunny day this drive is absolutely beautiful. There are several places along the way where you can pull off to get a nice ocean view.
The mountain route will take you at least an hour longer than the coastal route. This route is really pretty, but the roads are a bit scary. Everything is paved but you can expect lots of curves and switchbacks. As someone who gets really car sick, this ride is a bit of a nightmare. Plus, if you get stuck behind a slow-moving truck it can be very difficult to pass them.
We suggest using Adobe for car rentals because they are the most trustworthy rental car company in this country (in our opinion) and we have a 10% discount for you. You can read more about renting a car here.
You will not need a 4×4 to get to Uvita if you are taking the coastal road, but you might want one once you are in Uvita.
If you don’t feel comfortable driving to Uvita on your own, the best option we have found is to take the Tracopa bus. The bus leaves from downtown San Jose every day at 6:00 am and 3:00pm. It will cost about $12 each way. This bus is air-conditioned, semi-comfortable, and drives directly to Uvita. You can find out more on the Tracopa website here.
Getting Around in Uvita
We suggest depending on a rental car while in Uvita. Most of the activities you will want to do in Uvita are not in the actual downtown area.
This means that if you don’t rent a car you will have to book day tours which include transportation. This can be really expensive.
Also, when you look at our favorite budget Uvita activities you will see that most are off the beaten path activities. Day tours usually do not go to these locations.
If you opt to take the bus to Uvita, you can rent a car from Adobe and input Uvita as your pick-up location. They have an office directly in the downtown area of Uvita.
In the comments section of the rental car reservation, you can also specify that you need the car delivered to you at your hotel in Uvita. Adobe will deliver it to you free of charge if you are within 12 miles of their location.
Pro Tip: Rent a car with Adobe through our site and you will get a 10% discount! Score! You can find out more about it here
Visit the whale’s tale: The whale’s tale at Marino Ballena National Park is probably the most famous thing to do in Uvita. Basically, it is a point that you can walk out to during low tide which resembles a whales tale. It’s pretty cool to see, especially if you have a drone and can get a nice overhead shot. It costs $6 to enter and although you can easily skip paying by entering from further down the beach, we think you should still pay anyway. The money goes towards maintaining the beach and trails.
Slide down the Uvita waterfall: Did you know there is a waterfall in Costa Rica that you can slide down like a slide? It’s so cool! I’m sad I didn’t try it, but I wasn’t feeling great and wasn’t really feeling up for it. However, Thomas slid down twice and was really happy he did. To get to this spot just type in “Catarata Uvita” into your GPS unit. It’s really close to the downtown area. Entry is $2 per person and there is plenty of space to park on the side of the road. Just don’t leave anything of value in the car. The walk to the falls will only take you about five to ten minutes. There are several pools you can swim in and of course, there is also the amazing waterfall.
Walk on the beach: The beaches on either side of the whale’s tale are called Playa Uvita and Playa Hermosa. I loved that they were so expansive and you could walk the whole length of both beaches easily. You could easily spend a day here walking the beaches and relaxing in the sand.
Go mangrove kayaking: We wanted to do mangrove kayaking so bad! In fact, it was our only “must do” while in Uvita. We decided to do the mangrove kayaking tour with the company Uvita 360. They were absolutely wonderful to deal with. The cost was $55 per person which included kayaks, paddles, life jackets, national park entrance, a three-hour kayak tour with a guide, water, and fruits. Unfortunately on our drive to where we would put the kayaks in it started raining really hard and Uvita 360 had to cancel the tour due to safety. 🙁 This will be the first thing we will do when we get back to Uvita.
Search for secret waterfalls: There are tons of waterfalls in the Uvita area. We heard about a cool one not too far from Catarata Uvita, but we were unable to find it. There is also one located a bit south of Uvita called Cascada Pavon. This waterfall has a rock stuck in the middle of it, which looks really unique. It is only a short walk from the road to get there. Let us know if you find any more unique waterfalls near Uvita so we can pass them on to our readers.
Go surfing: Uvita is a prime surfing spot. There are plenty of places where you can rent a board or take lessons.
Check out nearby Dominical: The nearby town of Dominical is only about twenty minutes away from Uvita. We have a complete guide to Dominical here if you’d like to know more about visiting the area.
Go fishing: Thomas is a bit obsessed with fishing so he was super pumped to fish in Uvita. Unfortunately, he somehow forgot his fishing pole. He had all the gear, but the fishing pole remained at home. He was just a tad bit upset. On our first morning in Uvita, we saw some guys using hand line from the beach and they had caught a huge fish. I’m talking big enough that it took both of them to carry it. Thomas was so mad at himself for forgetting his pole after that. Anyway, we know the fish are out there and that you can even catch them from the shore, so try it out! Let us know what you catch.
Check out nearby beaches: There are plenty of nice beaches within a short drive of Uvita. One of our favorites is Playa Ventanas. This is a great family friendly beach just south of Uvita. The coolest thing about the beach is that there is a cave you can walk in into the water.
Arboura Eco Cabins: It wasn’t our original plan to stay here for three nights, but we ended up loving the location and the feel. This is not a place for you if you are not into the rustic vibe. The cabins are basic at best and have an outdoor shower. However, each cabin also has its own kitchen, there is a pool for guests to use, it is only a short walk to the beach, the people that run this place are lovely, and it is peaceful.
Flutterby House: We didn’t actually stay at Flutterby house, but we went here for dinner one night (it is next to Arboura Eco Cabins). The vibe has more of a hostel/ backpacker feel with decent food, craft beers, lots of socializing, yoga classes etc. It was a fun place to hang out for the evening and I’m sure you’d have a great time staying here.
Tropical Beach: For about $40 a night you can stay in a budget double room with a shared bathroom. There is also a shared kitchen you can use. This place is an easy walk from the beach.
Casa Nativos: This spot is really new and nice. For under $50 a night you can stay in a double room with a private bathroom. This spot is in the jungle near the Uvita waterfall. There is a shared kitchen on site for guests to use.
Osa de Rio: Osa de Rio is perfect for those of you that want a more jungle-ish experience. From here you can easily walk to the Uvita waterfall. For less than $50 a night you can stay in a budget double room. There is also a kitchen that guests can use on the property.
Casa Ballena Eco Hostel: This spot is close enough to the whale’s tale that you can easily walk to the beach. There are also a bunch of restaurant options within walking distance. For less than $40 a night you can stay in a budget double room. There is also a shared kitchen on site for guests to use.
We definitely suggest checking out Airbnb as well. Sometimes you can get some really great accommodation deals at beautiful places on Airbnb. We like Airbnb because often you can get a place with a private kitchen. This definitely helps us to save some money so we are not constantly eating at restaurants. Also, often staying at an Airbnb will give you a more local experience.
Save $30 off your first Airbnb stay here
Restaurant Los Laurales: The owner Cindy is the sweetest. She will help you through the menu, but as a word of advice get the fish tacos. They are perfection! The vibe here is completely relaxed so don’t hesitate to stop even if you are sweaty from visiting the Uvita waterfall down the street. You will still be completely welcome.
Soda Ranchito Dona Maria: If you’re looking for top-notch Costa Rican food, head here! You will be so full when you leave and the prices are very reasonable.
Sabor Espanol: Seriously good authentic Spanish food. They are only open for dinner and this place tends to fill up fast so it is best to make a reservation. Apparently, the paella is excellent but because I’m allergic to shellfish I wasn’t able to eat that. They have a great selection of tapas as well.
Pizza Time: As usual, I’ve got to mention so quality pizza. This is wood-fired pizza made perfectly. They also have a decent selection of beers (always a plus for us).
The Flutterby House: I wouldn’t say we were blown away by the food. It was definitely good, but not wow-worthy. However, the vibe here is perfect for some appetizers and drinks. They have a great selection of craft beers. Also, this is the perfect place to people watch everyone around.
– One thing to keep in mind when planning your visit is the date of Envision Festival. Envision happens once a year in the early spring in the neighboring town of Dominical. During this time a lot of hotels are sold out and the town is very crowded. Just check the dates for this festival before booking anything.
– During the rainy season, the rivers in this area are prone to flash floods. Please please be careful and don’t try to walk, swim, drive, through any water without knowing how deep it is or how strong the current is. A young man from Boston was killed recently due to being sucked out during a flash flood. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and we definitely don’t want anything bad to happen to any of you.