Sorry, we were told, when we planned our stay on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula; February is a bit early in the season to see humpback whales in Drake Bay and there are no tours running.
Slightly disappointed, we settled for a day visiting Caño Island, a biological reserve about twenty kilometres offshore. We were promised great snorkelling (for those who wanted it), and a landing on a beautiful island. But not whales.
So after breakfast at the beautiful Aguila de Osa lodge we joined seven other guests down at the jetty. Those planning to snorkel had flippers fitted in the dive shop before we boarded our small but very comfortable boat for the outing. Despite the warnings about the season we were keeping our fingers crossed that we might spot a whale; after all, one had been seen during the same tour the previous day!
After the sunshine of the last few days we were surprised to see some dark clouds and even more so when it started to rain. Although of course this is a rainforest!
But the shower was soon over and a few minutes later a shout went up from one of the crew. Whales had been spotted ahead. Our captain manoeuvred us closer to the group of two females and a calf. One was breaching quite a bit; she seemed to be playing. I used my burst shoot mode and managed to get some decent photos.
After a short while with the whales (too short!) we continued to Caño Island. The five of us who wanted to snorkel got into the water with one of the guides, David. Almost immediately we seemed to be surrounded by fish! There were Parrotfish, Surgeonfish, King Angelfish, Gruntfish, and many more whose names I didn’t subsequently catch when David described them!
He guided us towards some rocks (no coral reefs here) where I was excited to see a large turtle. Too excited as it turned out, as I managed to swallow some sea water and worse, get some inside my mask, making it hard to see anything at all. Not being a strong swimmer or experienced snorkeller I decided to head back to the boat at that point.
There I re-joined Chris who had stayed on board. He told me about their short ride to drop off two divers with another guide, then we just drifted until the others returned. A German woman was first; like me she only felt up to a short spell in the water. The other three stayed in longer (and reported seeing Manta Rays and a White Tip Reef Shark!) Once they were back on board we headed over to pick up the divers and then towards the island.
On Caño Island
It was a wet landing in about a foot of water. Once we were all on the beach we were given beach towels and a tub of fruit (watermelon and pineapple) to enjoy at our leisure. Chris and I found a perch on some logs where we could eat our snack while watching the antics of the many hermit crabs.
Then we strolled along the beach taking a few photos until it was time to get back on board.
My second snorkelling session was less successful. I had trouble with my mask right from the start so decided to call it a day and just relax on board with Chris. The bonus was a great view of a very untimid Brown Booby who swam right up to the boat!
When everyone was back on board we were given some brownies and then it was time to return to the hotel. This time we had blue skies but no whales!
It had been a great morning with the whales the undoubted highlight for me. Although I was left wondering whether just maybe a boat trip spent just looking for and watching them might not have been feasible after all?
I visited Costa Rica in February 2022