Virtual Fly Over of Costa Rica’s Pacific Side

This is a typical response that I send to inquirers who have hit our main website,, and who seem to know that Costa Rica is where they want to live. They have gone through the site which is admittedly not organized by the “where” of the listings. It is simply a site of available properties in Costa Rica, much as the name suggests. The inquirer has hit on a number of properties that turn out to be in various parts of the country, but a number of which are here in The Zone. Take a ride on the virtual flyover to get an idea of the various flavors that are available as you travel Costa Rica’s Pacific side.

I appreciate your informative e-mail and the profile of what you and your wife are doing. The southern zone compares very well with the other possible areas of the country. Your time in Jaco gave you a taste of a vibrant nightlife and probably lots of people. This differs considerably from what you’ll find in our area.
We are located about 1 1/2 – 2 hours south of Jaco. We are in a time of recent discovery here and were passed over by a lot of the development efforts to hit Costa Rica over the past 15 or so years.
One of the biggest changes to the area has been the completion of the coastal highway that stretches between Quepos/Manuel Antonio and Dominical. Just getting to our area was a bit daunting for many who were looking to move to Costa Rica before the highway was paved. Now, with that final 25 mile stretch completed, and approval of an international airport in Palmar Sur, the area is becoming better known and we are seeing an increase of visitors, re-locators and investors to the area.
This area of Costa Rica is typified by “nature”. The mountains come down to the sea and they are largely shrouded by tropical jungle. So for many, they feel that they have finally found Costa Rica, or the idea that they had in mind of what Costa Rica is.
Virtual Flyover Map of Costa Rica's Pacific side.
Virtual Flyover Map of Costa Rica’s Pacific side.

Here is a virtual fly-over of the Pacific coast. I suggest using Google Earth and acquainting yourself with some of these areas.

The Pacific north-west is a province called Guanacaste. This is the area that has received the brunt of development interest over the years. It is an entirely different flavor of Costa Rica than what we have here. I won’t go into detail about it as it is well out of our realm.
Coming down the coast from there you pass through Jaco, which used to be a quaint coastal town with a wonderful distinctly rustic feel. It is now a hopping place with the aforementioned night-life and is not to the liking of many who are looking for a more “natural” Costa Rica experience, although I will say that the trees along the highway around Jaco are outstandingly gorgeous.
Coming further down the coast you get to Manuel Antonio, which is one of the most visited national parks in Costa Rica. It is gorgeous there. It is about 40 minutes north of Uvita where I am. It is more densely populated than our neck of the woods and the land values there are higher.
Continue south and you get to Dominical which used to be the one town that people knew in Costa Rica’s southern zone. Dominical’s fame was, and is, primarily about its world-class surf beach. The town itself is still very much as it has always been. The main road is unpaved and it is still funky (in a good way) and caters to the surf lifestyle and has a “wellness” element to it in that there is a yoga studio and a mindset of “organic”.
Dominical’s topography does not allow for unlimited growth and its area is somewhat limited. There are still some commercial parcels available along the beach there, but the available properties are well defined and there is not a lot available there.
Coming further south you next arrive at Uvita. Uvita is clearly establishing itself as the commercial and social center for the zone. There are 2 grocery stores,  several doctors, pharmacies, hardware stores and so on there. There is also quite a bit of land both in the flats around the town center, as well as the surrounding mountains that offer a mountain view.
Between Dominical and Uvita is an area called Escaleras that is immensely popular with foreigners, largely for its gorgeous ocean views. There are some rather impressive luxury homes there and lots of vacation rentals.
South of Uvita and at the southern edge of our “zone” is Ojochal. Ojochal has been settled by Europeans mostly as well as Canadians and US-ians. It has a distinct character that many find to their liking. Ojochal is small and quaint and so it is a bit surprising when you find out that there are at least 14 restaurants there, some of which are quite good. There are effective efforts being made to make Ojochal the culinary center of Costa Rica.
The zone is densely jungled and the tourism here is all about nature. There are horseback tours for the beach, waterfalls and trails. The area has several names. The local hospitality board is promoting the name “Costa Ballena” or “Whale Coast” due to the presence of whales off the coast.
So there are whale watching tours, as well as, fishing, boating and of course, surfing activities here. I personally enjoy my sea kayak for exploring areas of the coast that are off the beaten path. I see dolphins, whales, and turtles on occasion. Also as mentioned, there is a “wellness” component here that results in retreats, massage, yoga, meditation and so on.
There are various options for available properties in the Uvita and Ojochal area. Also in the area just north of Dominical. Travel just a little bit inland from any of these towns and you are driving up into the mountains that provide an ocean view, as well as exposure to cooling ocean breezes.
South of The Zone, you’re not far from the Panama border. It is about 2 hours south of Uvita. However, between these two points you have the Osa Peninsula which juts out into the Pacific and is appropriately described as one of (if not “the”) most bio-diverse regions on planet Earth. That area is growing in popularity with many who are looking to remove themselves from the consumerist world of the developed countries. The Osa merits study for anyone who fits this description.

So there you have my virtual fly-over of the pacific side of Costa Rica. Inland, or the non-coastal areas offer other attractions,  like Arenal with its lake & volcano and some of the higher areas with cooler temperatures.

Leave a Comment