Some places are not created equal and Uvita, Costa Rica is one of them. Known for many things locally and by those in the know, Uvita is still growing in reputation among tourists and expats. But those who do find themselves here can quickly tell that they have reached a diverse and inspired community of people who welcome people with open arms. It is a community that is dependent on the growing tourism industry. There is a sense that Uvita is about to make it onto the world stage. With shows like Keeping Up With The Kardashians and The Simpsons featuring this tiny, environmentally-friendly nation, it’s only a matter of time before everyone realizes that Uvita is the real Costa Rica: a pura vida village that is ready to inspire the world.
Those who decide to move to Uvita come to learn that peace, relaxation, and appreciation of nature are the main themes to life here. There are a number of different landscapes to choose from that cater to the different preferences for paradise-seekers. Between the cooler mountainsides and the more lively and warm coastal region, there are dozens of different property types that range from budget-friendly to exclusive luxury.
The greater Uvita area is divided into a few different communities dotted along the highway. General consensus says that Uvita begins in the south at Ballena, where the Marino Ballena National Park begins and finishing in the north at Playa Hermosa. Thousands of hectares of land and coastal regions are protected to varying degrees, both publicly and privately. This includes primary and secondary tropical wet forest, pastures, mangroves, and the Tapir’s Wildlife Corridor. This region’s many nature preserves are dense and connected, making Uvita a great place to find the stunning wildlife that people visit Costa Rica to see.
Playa Uvita is located in the heart of Uvita and is the setting for the infamous Whale’s Tail beach formation. This is a spectacular sight to behold up close and from a distance. Many of Uvita’s mountainside communities feature properties with fantastic vistas of this natural wonder. Accessible throughout the year, this 2-mile white sand beach has moderately sized waves and azure blue water. Swimming conditions are ideal for boogie boarding and splashing around in the surf. Witness breathtakingly beautiful landscapes with estuaries and mangrove swamps, plus stunning natural rock formations that dot all along the coast.
History of Uvita
The wider Uvita region was named by early settlers in the late 1800s who encountered many viscoyol plants growing in the humid coastal soil. Viscoyol is a plant that produces bunches of small and round purple fruits that are reminiscent of grapes. The name Uvita, therefore, comes from the Spanish diminutive form of uva, meaning “little grape”.
Uvita’s southern Bahia region, which is the entrance to Playa Uvita, was called “La Pachanga” (meaning “The Party”). It was settled in the late 1950s by the Cruz family, who wanted to develop a large cattle farm and airplane business called Hacienda Bahia. The entire family passed in quick succession over the following years and their almost 900-hectare property went into bank receivership. The land was then purchased in the 1960s by ALCOA, the aluminum company, which wanted to use the site for bauxite exportation. This led, first, to the creation of a road from Perez Zeledon to Uvita; then, to the largest student strike in Costa Rica’s history. The project was deemed “unpatriotic” by locals and environmentalists and was quickly scrapped. The road to Uvita was now open to nearby regions and became settled by more than 90 families in the 1980s. who came from Baru, Matapalo, and Perez Zeledon.
In the 1980s and 90s, The Institute of Agrarian Development also began parceling the land in the region and distributing it to poor farmers. Today, Uvita has a small but stable population of a few hundred, with many more thousands of tourists and snowbirds coming each year.
Uvita’s local village atmosphere is friendly and diverse. Because of the mix of inhabitants in this region, there are a variety of groups and activities available to travelers and residents. Spirituality, sports, and nature are three themes that often bind people in this community. But more than that, there is a deep sense of Costa Rican culture that permeates this region. Expats are more invested in blending into the local culture rather than painting over it — it is, after all, a big reason why they chose to stay.
Friendly to budget travel and luxury escapes, Uvita has it all. This is the commercial hub of the Costa Ballena, where people congregate from all over the region to do their banking and other errands. It is also the tourism capital and has the majority of the region’s tours and accommodations. This is partially so because it is the commercial center and partly because it is so uniquely special a landscape. The community has grown tremendously in recent years thanks to the many Costa Ricans and expats who have fallen in love and made Uvita their home.
Uvita is a prime destination for those seeking a quiet getaway in nature or a more long-term detox from ‘city life’. It’s not only retirees who choose to expatriate to Uvita, Costa Rica. Many young families from around the world are choosing Uvita as their temporary or long-term home, too. There are several local and internationally-accredited schools to choose from in Uvita giving young parents the option to immerse their kids in the pura vida culture for a while. It can be difficult to raise kids in the rat race and it’s special that so many parents are choosing to slow down as a family, even if just for a bit, and to let their kids be kids and play outdoors. There are a number of people in the area who organize group outings, day camps, special courses and events for kids and families to enjoy together and there is a great culture of families from all over the world that has blossomed as a result.
Uvita’s Main Attractions
Most people who have historically visited Costa Rica have gone to Guanacaste on the North Pacific coast. Over the last 3-4 decades, it has become the location of a vast spread of all-inclusive resorts, bars, and restaurants, much like any other resort destination. What makes the South Pacific unique, and Uvita, in particular, is that this region is environmentally protected and will never be developed in the same way. Instead, Uvita is home to many world-class boutique hotels and sumptuous homestays that are tucked into the jungle. People who visit or live here are privy to relaxation, privacy, magical views, and wildlife sightings in their natural habitats. Keep your eyes open and you are likely to spot Scarlet and Great Green Macaws, Scintillant Hummingbirds, Spider Monkeys, Tapirs, Bottle-nosed Dolphins, and Humpback Whales. Few other populated regions in Costa Rica have that same potential.
This charming community has been on the ‘alternative travel’ map for some time and there are a number of established tourism businesses in the region. But there are many new ones opening every year, too, meaning that our reputation is going. People come here to enjoy waterfall hikes, mangrove kayak tours, ATV rides through the jungle, delicious dining, and live entertainment. But the main driving force of the local economy is the humpback whale watching season. Humpback whales use Uvita’s marine territory as a breeding and feeding ground during two extended seasons annually. This brings tourism to this region during the rainy season, when other parts of Costa Rica slow down.
Our favorite reason to visit Uvita? It has the most serenely beautiful beaches in Costa Ballena. Green, jungle-covered mountains rest in the backdrop of the picture-perfect, palm-lined beaches. Splashing in the waves while looking at the “sea of green” on the coast has made for some of the most magical swims we may ever experience. Uvita’s green forests extend all the way to the beach and you will find very little development anywhere near the beach because the coasts are protected. You might see one or two old homes peeking out between the trees while walking down miles of light sand beach. Instead of hotels and bars, you will encounter wildlife like capuchin monkeys and scarlet macaws, and witness phenomenally colorful sunsets in near seclusion. This is the home of pura vida and we wouldn’t want to change it one bit.
Want to know more about Uvita and what it’s like to live here? We have a huge selection of properties for sale in Uvita that range in price and style. We’d love to send you a selection of some that fit your budget and preferences and we will expertly represent you with our detailed knowledge of the local market and our powerful negotiating skills. Send us an email for a no-pressure consultation firstname.lastname@example.org