The extraordinary geological formation commonly called Punta Uvita or the Whale Tail is a magical place to visit. Some people have referred to this natural phenomenon as “Moses Passage” when at low tide the ocean recedes and a 600 meter long sand passage opens up. Punta Uvita is located at the northern part of the Marino Ballena National Park. Apparently there are two ocean currents, one from the southeast and the other from the northwest that help form this natural passage. Punta Uvita can be enjoyed during low tide for approximately 3 hours, but when the tide comes up, the passage disappears and becomes submerged. It is a 25 minute walk from the main park entrance. From high in the sky or from mountain views Punta Uvita clearly resembles a whale tail. In Costa Rica there are no other places like “Moses Passage”, and some say that there are only 10 other locations in the world similar to Punta Uvita.
Bahia Aventuras and Thinking Beyond Borders – Bringing different cultures together
In September 2009 Bahia Aventuras teamed with Thinking Beyond Borders for the second year in a row to help facilitate the best gap year program in the world! Thinking Beyond Borders gap year program is designed for students to explore international development through global service learning and academic study. The organization has the mission:
- To empower youth as agents of proactive change by developing consciousness of global issues.
- To translate learning into action.
The Ideal start to a Gap Year Program
Thinking Beyond Borders program orientation in Uvita – Bahia Ballena, Osa, Costa Rica is an opportunity to prepare for eight months of service learning and traveling throughout South America, Africa, Asia and the USA. During the orientation students begin exploring the curriculum by learning about various development issues and why they are immediate problems in each country. They also learn how to travel in a culturally sensitive manner, how to communicate with people when you don’t speak the same language, and how to immerse yourself into a new community. Finishing out the orientation, students learn the safety protocol, including how to prevent minor illness, general traveling “do’s and don’ts, and good conduct to keep yourself healthy and safe. The orientation program challenges students to develop new perspectives on themselves and the world. Set goals to reach new levels of personal and global consciousness. Identify strengths and pinpoint areas to improve. Engage in team building and leadership activities that unite this incredible and talented group of individuals.
Bahia Aventuras and Thinking Beyond Borders
Together with Bahia Aventuras Team Members and local community leaders, the Thinking Beyond Borders students attend workshops about local community economic development. Connect with nature and create powerful experiences while participating in whale watching, snorkeling, and dolphin encounter boat tours in the Marino Ballena National Park. Learn yoga and surfing while living for 10 days where the rainforest and the ocean come together. They hike through primary and secondary rainforest, swim under waterfalls, play beach soccer and reflect on the journey to come while watching the sunset over the famous Punta Uvita Whale Tail.
Check out the album of Thinking Beyond Borders 2009-10 student photos from the 11 day orientation in Costa Rica!
A Brief History of Uvita
Around 1957, a young man by the name of Fernando Cruz arrived to Punta Uvita. He was accompanied by his wife Leonor and son Carlos Fernando (Cai Cruz). The family settled near the entrance to Punta Uvita, known then and for many years later as, “La Pachanga” (The Party). The family started buying properties and therefore acquired a large amount of land, a little less than 900 hectares. The principal objective of the Cruz family was to create a large hacienda and cattle farm called Hacienda Bahia as well as an airplane business and continue with the vision to develop other businesses or at least have a tranquil and safe refuge.
Uvita in the 1960s & 1970s
By 1962, the family passed away and all of the Hacienda Bahia was under the control of son, Cai Cruz. At the time, Cai Cruz, did not have the sufficient capacity to control his families assets. One day during a flight in one of his families planes there was an accident near the mountain summit called Kamuk, on route to San Jose, and Cai Cruz was killed. Afterwards, the state banks took control of Hacienda Bahia. Later, during the 60s and 70s, ALCOA the world’s current leading producer and manager of primary aluminum, was attempting to excavate from San Isidro de General – Perez Zeledon the primary material for aluminum products, Bauxite. In a larger plan that involved ALCOAs purchase of Hacienda Bahia, was the development of a road between San Isidro General – Perez Zeledon and Uvita Bahia Ballena and the eventual construction of a small port at Punta Uvita for the exportation of Bauxite and other products. ALCOAs development plans were highly viewed as anti-patriotic and the pressure of Costa Rica’s largest student strike on April 24, 1970 combined with ecologist lead strikes helped lead to the ending of the projects.
Uvita in the 1980s
Later in 1980 the Hacienda was invaded by more than 90 families, the majority of them coming from the Aguirre county – Playa Matapalo to Quepos. Afterwards, the Institute of Agrarian Development, bought and parceled lands, which gave form to the community we know today as Uvita Bahia Ballena, Osa, Costa Rica with more than 800 inhabitants, and a student population of more than 200.