March 11, 2011 was just another ordinary day at Bahía Ballena, located just south of Playa Uvita on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific coast. This gorgeous and fairly isolated beach is best known for its beautiful sandbar, which during low tide looks like a giant whale’s tail.
Just one day after the devastating tsunami hit Japan on March 12, local residents were stunned and disappointed to find that their legendary sandbar was no longer visible. Secondary tsunami waves had caused water levels to rise all the way across the Pacific, submerging Costa Rica’s “Whale’s Tail” sandbar and also altering tide patterns and the behavior of local fish populations.
While this was truly small potatoes in comparison to the havoc the giant waves wreaked on Japan, it was a sad blow for long-time locals nonetheless – as the tail is the area’s most notable landmark.
Thankfully, there was a happy ending. The sandbar returned a short time later and the national treasure was safely restored – and remains to be one of the most iconic sights on Nature Air flights to Drake Bay and Puerto Jimenez.
Article by Genna Marie Robustelli was originally printed in Landings Magazine Vol. X No. 2