Marino Ballena National Park

MARINO BALLENA NATIONAL PARK HISTORY

CREATION:

The park was created on February 6, 1989 by Executive Decree 19441 MIRENEM, which established the park as the first MarineNational Park in the country.  Afterwards, the park limits were increased in 1992 by MINAE Decree 21294, containing 5.375 marine ha and 115 terrestrial ha.

The main conservation objectives are the protection of species that have commercial value, as well as other important biological specimens associated with the coral reefs, which help to protect the temporary refuge of the humpback whale and the fragile coastal marine ecosystem.

The creation of the park initially generated a community conflict pertaining to the restriction of fishing activities.  In 1995 the tension grew to a point where the Ranger station was burned. One year later, after no communication, government negotiations were reopened. 

MAIN ATTRACTIONS

El Tómbolo de Punta Uvita  This is an extraordinary rocky formation produced by the refraction of the waves that deposit sediments and remains of marine organisms, which links a chain of rocks that forms the coral reefs.  During low tide, a 1km walkway joins the beach to the Tómbolo, where the reef vegetation begins.  From an aerial view, this rocky formation resembles the tail of a whale.  El Tómbolo is a hike that should not be missed. 

Isla Ballena y Tres Hermanas These are composed of rocky formations that have a depth between 6 and 20 meters, making it the home of many species such as Lobsters and Barracudas, Amongst others.  Furthermore, the islands are important for the nesting of reptiles and marine birds, like the brown booby (Sula leucogaster), the white ibis (Eudocimus albus), and the green iguana (Iguana iguana).

Coral Reefs The park possesses 18 species of identified corals, second largest in terms of diversity in the Pacific coast of the country.  The Núcura (Porites lobata) is the most prevalent, and within the diverse reefs there are associated organisms such as the bumphead parrot fish (Scarus perrico), butterfly fish (Chaetodon humeralis), yellow fin surgeonfish (Acanthurus xanthopterus), freckled porcupine fish (Diodon holocanthus), lobsters, starfish, and sea fans.  By diving, the white-tip reef sharks and nurse sharks can be seen.

Mangroves The park has various mangrove forests that follow the river and empty into the ocean.  In the estuaries small fish and crabs can be seen and you can enjoy swimming in the brackish water.  This ecosystem is a refuge for the reproduction of birds, fish, and crustaceans, such as shrimps.

Playa Arco  This is a small pristine white sand beach protected by the only primary forest in the coastal area. The beach, which also has a small cave, can be accessed during the low tide.

PRINCIPAL PARK SPECIES

Marine Turtles

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)

Whales

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeanglie)

Pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus)

Dolphins

Common dolphin    (Delphinus delphis)

Bottle Nose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Pantropical Spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata)

Marine Birds

Magnificent Frigate bird (Fregata magnificens)

Brown Pelican (Pelacanus occidentalis)

Yellow Crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)

FACTS

Rainy season: May – November

Dry season: December – April

Average Temperature: 27ºC

Recommendations

Throw all your waste in the waste basket and try to produce as little as possible. 

 Try to not disturb the flora and fauna of the park. 

Be aware of the current and the tide, especially near the river. 

Don’t leave any luggage unattended in your car. Lock your car. 

Don’t leave any items unattended on the beach while swimming. 

There is no fire allowed in the whole park. 

There is first aid equipment and trained persons in each entrance of the park. 

If you want to camp, please make sure to choose a dry place even in case of high tide! 

If there is any question, don’t hesitate to ask the people behind the information desk at the entrance of the park.