Ballena National Marine Park
Ballena National Marine Park is located in the Puntarenas Province, on the Pacific Coast, about 190 kilometers southwest of San Jose. It is a favorite Park for locals and tourist alike. The park includes the area from Playa Hermosa to Playa Piñuela, including Playa Ballena and Playa Uvita, covering around 15 kilometers of seaward. Ballena National Marine Park was created as a way to protect the many marine biological communities of the Pacific Coast, maintaining its productivity and preserve critical marine reproductive habitats such as coral reefs (the largest of the Pacific Coast of Central America), marine turtles such as Olive Ridley and Hawksbill turtles, and humpback whales. The landscape of the park includes beautiful forests, beaches, mangroves, rocky shoals and Las Tres Hermanas, which are small islands located in front of the shores of the park; Ballena Island is the name of the middle one. Its name comes from the many Humpback whales that visit the park each year when they migrate to the cold waters of the North part of the world, from December to April to mate. Among the activities that can be enjoyed in the park are hiking to Punta Uvita Tombolo, snorkeling (especially at low tide), beach combing, scuba diving, and turtle nesting (between May and November). Because this are was designated as a Marine Park 25 years ago, there is an abundance of marine life. The northernmost beach in the park is known as Playa Hermosa, and it is a favorite location for both surfers.
Ballena National Marine Park does not have a wide effective protection by park rangers; however, people are advice to enter the park and be conscious about the importance of maintaining this area trash free and to respect the presence of the nesting marine turtles.