See wild dolphins at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica

Dolphin Bottlenose, Golfo Dulce, photo by Earthwatch
The last time I was at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, I was down at the beach cooling off from the hot sun in waist-deep tranquil waters of the Golfo Dulce, when suddenly there was a splash very close behind me. I turned quickly to look out toward the Gulf and was greeted by three Bottlenose Dolphins calmly gliding past me parallel to the beach. They had come easily within 15 feet of me. I was so surprised that I simply froze and watched their effortless beauty as they swam away up the coast.

Humpback Whale breaching in Golfo Dulce
This is how it is on Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica. You can be sunning yourself on the dock at Playa Nicuesa Lodge and a dolphin or a sea turtle will serenely pass by. During whale-watching season, you might see a Humpback Whale mother and her calf just offshore. Almost always will you see dolphins when you go on a boat tour of the Golfo Dulce or kayaking in the mangroves of the Esquinas River.

This area of pristine tropical wilderness by the Osa Peninsula is home to resident and migratory communities of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Spotted Dolphins (Stenella attenuata), Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostris), and occasionally-seen False Killer Whales (Pseudorca crassidens). Every August when whale-watching season begins in Golfo Dulce, endangered Pacific Humpback Whales migrate to Costa Rica’s warm waters to breed and give birth. Golfo Dulce is a critical habitat for marine life, according to the Center for Cetacean Research of Costa Rica (CEIC).

Dolphins in Golfo Dulce Costa Rica
The Gulf’s calm jade green-blue water makes it easy to see abundant marine life. Spotted Dolphins are some of the most common dolphins to see in Golfo Dulce. Their range is from shallow inshore waters to deep ocean, though still close to shore, where they gather in big groups of up to 500 dolphins.

Spotted Dolphins in Costa Rica's southern Pacific Ocean
Bottlenose Dolphins
stay close to river mouths, using the tidal cycles to catch fish, especially the needlefish (Tylosurus acus pacificus). Golfo Dulce Bottlenose Dolphins are very social and commonly seen in pods of two to 15 dolphins.
Bottlenose Dolphins in Costa Rica, photo by CEIC

Spinner Dolphins, as is obvious from the name, are known for spinning vertically out of the water on their tails and performing great acrobatic feats. All of Costa Rica’s dolphins live harmoniously with one another.

Spinner Dolphin in Costa Rica

You can see dolphins, whales and other marine life in Golfo Dulce when you stay at the Costa Rica eco-lodge of Playa Nicuesa. A TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner, the Costa Rica rainforest lodge has its own 165-acre private preserve bordering the Piedras Blancas National Park.
Article by Shannon Farley

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