Ballena National Marine Park

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Ballena National Marine Park

Approximately ten miles to the south of Playa Dominical lies Marrino Ballena National Park, named for the whales that are sometimes sighted close to shore in the winter months. The Ballena National Marine Park was created to protect the coral and rock reefs in Coronado Bay that stretch from Uvita south to Playa Pinuela and inlcudes the little Isla Ballena, just offshore. This protection guarantees the preservation of all critical marine reproductive habitats as well as safeguards the productivity of the biological communities that inhabit the area. One of Costa Rica’s smallest parks, MarinoBallena offers spectacular beaches, mangroves where you can spot raccoons, lizards, and caimanys, and the most intact coral reefs on the Pacific Coast. The park encompasses Playa Uvita, several beaches (Bahia, Pedregosa, Ballena, de Arco and Pinuela) and approximately 4,500 hectares of sea around Ballena Island and Las Tres Hermanas rocks.

The islets of Ballena and Las Tres Hermanas are teeming with green iguanas and cherepos but it’s also a refuge and roosting site for magnificent frigatebirds. The rocky coast of Ballena is home to algae, sponges, echinoderms and other creatures acclimated to the constant surf.

The rock reefs and the bays of Ballena are rife with lobster, giant conchs, anchovies, catfish, flying fish, snappers, Caribbean snook, common dolphins and bottle-nosed dolphins and many other fish species. Humpback whales can also be found in this section of the Pacific at certain times of the year.

Many resident and migratory birds can be found along the various coastal habitats of Ballena, such as the Northern boat-billed heron, white ibis, black-collared hawk, greater yellowlegs, spotted sandpiper, black-bellied plover, whimbrel, turkey vulture and king vulture.

Hawksbill and Olive Ridley turtles come to the sandy beaches of Ballena from May to November to nest, but particularly in September and October when they arrive in huge numbers.

If you ever fly over this area, you'll see that this little island and the spit of land that's formed at low tide for a perfect outline of a whale's tail.


The park station is open from 8am to 4pm.