Tours & Excursions

Snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, bird and whale watching, walking tours, horseback riding and boat tours are only some of our exciting tour options available for you to discover during your stay at Cristal Ballena.

All Tours can be booked at the hotel. The indicated tour prices are based on the information of the tour operators, are non binding and may vary depending on season and exchange rates. The current tour prices and information is provided at the hotel reception..

1. "Cristal Ballena" Rainforest Trail

A guided walk through the rain forest area behind the hotels "Casa Blanca".
The Rainforest Trail takes you through a private reservation located behind the hotel.

The Trail is an approximately 1¼-mile walk through the jungle, during which you will have an opportunity to observe howler and capuchin monkeys, leaf cutter ants, coatimundis (pizotes) and a variety of other jungle animals.

If you wish to take a walk with a guide along the “Cristal Ballena” Rainforest Trail, please register one day in advance at the reception. 

Time/Duration Is up to you,
though mornings are recommended.
appr. 2 hours
Charge (approx.): free feature of the hotel
Remarks: Use of the trail is at guest's own risk.
   
Toucan and butterfly (mariposa) on the rain forest trail.

2. Whales and Dolphins  

Boat tour to spot whales and dolphins.
You’ll ride with an experienced crew out into the ocean to an area where whales and dolphins can generally be spotted. 

The best time to see whales is between July and the end of October, as well as from the end of November until late April. Because these excursion boats are in radio contact with each other, whale sightings are reported at once and boats quickly converge on the areas in question. Several dolphins can generally be found in the vicinity. 

If you are lucky, you will see any of five different whale species, including humpback and pilot whales. If you are then daring enough to jump into the water, you will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to eavesdrop on whales as they sing to each another.

The tour takes you past the Roca Ballena, where you will be able to espy numerous bird species and their nests. On the beach of Playa Ventana, you can still see beautiful caves forged by the sea and the colonies of pelicans that live here.

Time/Duration Daily 7:00 a.m., appr. 3 hours
Charge (approx.): $ 70 p.p. (children: $ 45 each),
transfer back and forth: $ 5 p.p.
Additional information: Very enchanting scenery, with an impressive display of color off the ocean depending on the time of day, option to combine with snorkeling at no additional charge
Roco Ballena and caves close to Playa Ventana

3. Corcovado Day Trip  

Observe all kind of animals in the "Corcovado" National park

The tour starts in Sierpe, where you bord the boat. Once on the boat, you will make your way past the mangroves and through the Sierpe river. You will then head out across the open ocean to the “San Pedrillo” ranger station, located in the country’s second-largest national park, the “CORCOVADO”.

With a little luck, you will have a chance to spot dolphins or whales from the boat.

Once you have arrived at the national park, you will take a walk lasting around 3 hours through the beautiful rainforest, Led by your guide, you will be able to observe all kinds of animals, including capuchin and howler monkeys, coatimundis, parrots, along with amphibians and reptiles.

After the hike, you will be served lunch at the ranger station. You will have some free time to yourself, before embarking on the boat ride back to Sierpe through the mangroves.

Time/Duration 8:00 a.m - 4:30 p.m, full day
Charge (approx.): $ 95 p.p
Additional information: Entrance fee for the Corcovado National Park and lunch are included in the price.
Corcovado and Parrots in the trees.

4. Horseback outing of the Nauyaca Waterfalls  

Horseback ride with experienced guide
Led by an experienced guide, you will ride horses to one of the region’s most impressive natural highlights – the Nauyaca Waterfalls.

Before you reach them, you will cross the Barucito river and, after 45 minutes, come to “Don Lulo’s” House, where you will be served a typical Costa Rican breakfast. A mini zoo there gives you the opportunity to become friends with a variety of animals.

After breakfast, you will continue on horseback to the waterfalls, where you will spend about 1½ hours. This will give you plenty of time to swim in the 10,700 sq.ft. pool below the waterfall, to climb the rocks (at your own risk) and take a daredevil jump into the 22 ft.-deep waters below. Perhaps, however, you might prefer just to quietly enjoy the nature around you.

As you make your way back to the start of the tour, a lavish TICO lunch awaits you at “Don Lulo’s” House.

Time/Duration Daily, approx. 6 hours
Charge (approx.): $ 45 p.p., transfer $ 80 per group
Additional information: also well-suited for children, children up to age 4 may join the tour at no extra charge.
On horseback to the Nauyaca Waterfalls

5. Mangroves Tour 

Observe wildlife in the mangroves.
You will leave Ojochal by boat and make your way out to the biggest contiguous mangrove area in all of Central America. Bird lovers, in particular, will have the time of their lives, having the opportunity to observe a wealth of birds, including a variety of herons, osprey, parrots, etc. Monkeys swinging through the tree tops and caymans (small crocodiles) can readily be observed along the shoreline. 

Because the boat brings you very close to the animals, you can capture these unforgettable experiences with your own camera.
Time/Duration Daily, appr. 3 hours
Charge (approx.): $ 50 p.p., transfer back and forth $ 5 p.p.
Additional information: highly recommended for bird watchers, important to coordinate with high and low tides
The mangroves with its wildlife (Osprey ).

6. Flight of the Toucan - Canopy Tour  

Enjoy the superb views from the tree lookout platforms.
The Canopy Tour in the “Hacienda Baru” nature reserve is a true joy for the whole family. Glide down a variety of zip lines from one platform to another and enjoy the superb views from your tree lookout platform (115 ft. above the ground), not only of the rainforest itself, but also those fascinating vistas of the coast and ocean.

Your two guides don’t only pay close attention to your safety, they also share – in English – all kinds of insights regarding native flora and fauna, as well as about the the re-naturing of the reserve, part of the “Refugio National de Vida Silvestre”.
Time/Duration daily, approx. 2 – 3 hours
Charge (approx.): $35 p.p., transfer not included in the price
Additional information: also well-suited for children, professionally organized with very high safety standards; may also be combined with “Climbing in the Tree Tops” – charge $ 55 p.p.
Canopy Platform and sliding along the zip line.

7. Climbing in the Tree Tops  

Your way up to the top
Accompanied by a bilingual guide, you will make your way up to the very top of the rainforest.

Secured by a special harness, you will climb a 115 ft. rope up the side of one of the giants of the rain forest, enjoying the wonders of nature as you go. You can take a break and relax whenever you want. Average physical conditioning suffices to climb the tree. No athletic prowess necessary!

The perfect way to explore the rain forest. Soak in the scenery to your heart's content, before you allow yourself to float like a feather back down to the ground below.
Time/Duration Daily 7:00 a.m., appr. 2-3 hours
Charge (approx.): $ 35 p.p., transfer not included in the price
Additional information: after the tour, you can also make your way down the clearly sign-posted forest trail
(fee $ 6) and swim in the ocean;
may also be combined with “Flight of the Toucan Tour ” – fee $ 55 p.p.
Climbing in the tree tops.

8. Rainforest Hiking Trail  

A clearly marked, 4½ mile-long hiking trail provides you with a perfect way to explore the rainforest on your own, access a pristine beach located within the nature reserve, as well as to enjoy splendid views out over the ocean from the hill tops.

Various vegetation zones reveal themselves before you – the path takes you through primary and secondary forests, wetland areas, grasslands, as well as mangroves. Along the trail and on the beach, you are sure to encounter an animal or two. So keep your camera handy!
Time/Duration open daily from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
However long it takes you to walk the 4½ miles
Charge (approx.): $ 6 p.p., transfer not included in the price
Additional information: You will also have an opportunity to visit an orchid and butterfly garden; lends itself wonderfully as an all-day outing.
Capuchin monkey and Morpho butterfly

9. Bird Watching  

Spot the hummingbird
Visit the ORO Verde, a private bio-reservation, and discover a broad range of magnificent tropical bird species, such as toucans, parrots, trogons, motmots, manakins, chachalacas and many more. 

While walking along the carefully laid out paths, it is often possible to spot beautiful, shimmering blue Morpho butterflies. Your experienced tour guide will give you expert information on the flora and fauna along the way.

With a little bit of luck, you will not only see birds, but also monkeys, coatimundis, sloths, squirrels and many other creatures.
Time/Duration daily from 6:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.,
approx. 3 hours, approx. 9 miles north of the hotel
Charge (approx.): $ 30 p.p.; we are also happy to organize transfers, fare $ 20 each
Additional information: Sturdy shoes recommended; rubber boots are available on site and may be borrowed free of charge – please bring your own socks
Toucan and Owl

10. Hiking Trip  

The Oro Verde
bio-reservation
Guided hike in the private Oro Verde bio-reservation, amid hilly terrain and through primary and secondary rainforest. 

Experience birds, monkeys and other animal species in their natural habitat. You can opt to make this leisurely hike either a 2- or 4-hour tour.

After your hike, you’ll receive a snack to give yourself an energy boost. On the way back, you should still have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the splendid scenery of the Marino Ballena National Park.
Time/Duration daily at 7:00 a.m., your choice of either 2 or 4 hours. Approx. 9 miles north of the hotel
Charge (approx.): $ 20 p.p. for 2 hours, $ 35 p.p. for 4 hours; price includes a small snack; transfer back and forth $20 p.p. if desired
Additional information: Sturdy shoes recommended; rubber boots are available on site and may be borrowed free of charge – please bring your own socks.
Trail in the Oro Verde bio-reservation; Chameleon.

11. Sport Fishing Sierpe  

What a catch!
Costa Rica is well known for its deep, blue, crystalline water that
offers some of the most magnificent fishing experiences in the world.

The water of Drake Bay offers world class bill fishing with a wide array of species throughout the year.


12. Fishing Tour Uvita  

You will be picked up from the hotel by the tour operator and driven to the “Playa Uvita”, a beautiful beach in the National Park. 

Once there, you will board a boat already equipped with fishing rods and sail out to some good fishing waters. Here you will have an opportunity to fish for tuna, mahi-mahis and marlins. 

If you make arrangements with the captain, you’ll also be able to take a cruise around nearby Ballena Island. Book a long enough tour and you will also have an opportunity to sail out to Caño Island (approx. 2 hours away).
Time/Duration
Location
at least 1 hour, otherwise by arrangement, 4 miles north of the hotel
Charge (approx.): $ 65 per hour and boat, transfer back and forth $ 5 p.p. (max 4 p.)
Additional information: Equipment for a regular fishing tour is provided
Tuna and Mahi-Mahi

13. Kayaking in the Mangroves  

Led by an experienced kayaker, you’ll paddle along, generally in a 2-person boat, through broad waterways and narrow canals, often only passable during high tide, and through the biggest mangrove area in Central America. 

As you make your way close to shore, you’ll discover a wonderful world of animals and birds. If desired, the tour operator can pick you up and take you out to the start of the kayak tour (around 20 mins. from the hotel).
Time/Duration
Location
daily, no fixed times – should take into account low and high tides, approx. 3 hours, 9 miles south of the hotel
Charge (approx.): $ 50 p.p., transfer back and forth $ 5 each
Additional information: average physical condition is adequate, ideal clothing includes swimwear, something to cover your head and a T-shirt
Kayaks on the river, Mangroves

14. Reptile Land  

Poisonous or not?
Visit the only reptile park in the southern Pacific region. Stroll along, either accompanied by a knowledgeable guide or on your own, through the beautifully designed botanical garden. 

In the 55 different terrariums, you will discover, not only poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, but also frogs, iguanas, caymans (small crocodiles) and turtles. 

For a very special experience, attend the feeding of the turtles and crocodiles which takes place every Friday. And don’t forget to bring along a picnic to enjoy in the pavilion.
Time/Duration
Location
daily, as long as you want, approx. 22 miles north of the hotel
Charge (approx.): $ 10 p.p. (guide not incl.), $ 12 p.p. (with guide – please book one day in advance), $ 1 per child under 12, $ 7 p.p. for students (Don’t forget your I.D.!)
Additional information: The animals are fed every Friday, nighttime tours are possible (please ask for details at the reception), multi-lingual tours available on request.
Crocodile; Family with rainbow boa

15. Diving and Snorkling on Caño Island  

You will be picked up early in the morning by a bus provided by the tour organizer. You’ll then drive to the village of Sierpe, where you will have an opportunity to enjoy a wonderfully prepared breakfast. 

Then it’s time for a boat ride along the Sierpe River and out onto the open ocean for a 50-min. trip to Caño Island. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll be outfitted with the very latest in snorkeling or diving equipment, depending on which you have chosen to do. As well you can just enjoy yourself at the beautiful beach. 

During the 2 dives, each of which lasts about 40 minutes, you will be able to enjoy the sight of reef sharks, moraine eels, and numerous other colorful fishes and corals. Between dives or snorkeling sessions, the boat will take you to land, where you will be served a small snack. You will also have a brief opportunity to lie on the beach and let your thoughts wander. 

On the return trip to your starting point in Sierpe, your experienced guides will acquaint you with the wonderful world of the mangroves, as well as show you the monkeys, snakes, owls, crocodiles, toucans and bats along the banks.
Time/Duration
Location
Daily, leaving the hotel at about 6:45 a.m., until about 5:00 p.m., 34 miles south of the hotel (Sierpe)
Charge (approx.): $ 145 p.p. (diving), $ 95 p.p. (snorkeling)
Additional information: high safety standards, new diving equipment is provided
Diving activity with latest diving or snorkling equipment

16. Surfing Playa Ventana or Dominical  

Surfing the wave ...
There are two opportunities close to the hotel: Playa Ventana (approx. 3.5 miles from the hotel): smaller waves, ideal for learning surfing technique; surfing lessons are offered to groups of 2 or more people.

Playa Dominical (around 19 miles north of the hotel): bigger waves, ideal for surfers who are already more expert.
Time/Duration
Location
Transfers are offered from the hotel to the Playa Ventana for $ 5 p.p. Transfers to the Playa Dominical can be organized by the hotel.
Charge (approx.): $ 40 p.p. for 2 hours incl. equipment, surfing lessons and refreshments
Surfboard Rentals: $ 20 per day / $ 10 per ½ day
Additional information:  
On the Beach … then on the wave