Las Baulas National Marine Park

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Las Baulas National Marine Park

Las Baulas Marine National Park: A relative newcomer to the list of Costa Rican national parks, Las Baulas was declared to protect two important nesting beaches for the Giant Leatherback Sea Turtle, as well as offshore areas where these large marine reptiles spend their days during the breeding season. Located on the Pacific coast near the town of Tamarindo is Las Baulas National Marine Park. The park rests on 445 hectares of beaches, forests and mangrove swamps.

Watching one of these massive beasts come ashore at night to nest is a very moving experience.
Watching one of these massive beasts come ashore at night to nest is a very moving experience.

Classification has been made of 174 species of sea and land birds, which about a third live in the mangrove swamps. This environment is home to the blue-winged teal, black-bellied tree duck, white ibis, cattle egret, great blue heron and muscovy duck. The mangrove swamp also provides shelter for raccoons, caymans, ctenosaurs, pacas, agouties, grey squirrels and howler and White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys. Along the seashore of the park, brown pelicans, magnificent frigatebirds, sandpipers and laughing gulls can be spotted.

Leatherbacks, known as 'baulas' in Costa Rica, are the largest of the world's seven species of sea turtles, averaging 350 kg. and more than a meter and a half in length. Watching one of these great ancient beasts come ashore at night to continue the age-old tradition of nesting in tropical sands is a very moving experience.The beach at Playa Grande is where the leatherback turtle comes to nest, with a population size of about 800 female turtles nesting per year. The leatherbacks take over Playa Grande from November to April. Sometimes Pacific ridley turtles also arrive to nest here as they do at Santa Rosa National Park and Corcovado National Park.

In Costa Rica, this species can be found nesting at a number of beaches on both coasts, however, two of the more heavily used beaches are Playa Grande (Big Beach) and Playa Langosta (Lobster Beach), to the north and south, respectively, of Tamarindo Beach. Together, the aforementioned two beaches make up Las Baulas Marine National Park.


There is a ranger station at Playa Grande and it is open from 8 am to 4 pm. Guided tours are also available but for minimum environmental impact, a limited number of visitors are allowed on the beach each evening during nesting times.

Getting to Las Baulas National Marine Park

• from the intersection on the PanAmerican Highway in Liberia

• drive west towards the Pacific coast

• at the town of Belen, take a right turn and follow the paved road for 15 miles until reaching the town of Huacas

• follow the gravel road 5 miles further through the town of Matapalo and on to Salinas where you will enter the national park on Playa Grande