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Ballena
General information

Location:

It is located in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, in Puntarenas, between the Higueron River and Punta Piñuela, inside the Coronado bay.
Conservation Area:
Osa Conservation Area
Size:
110 land hectares and 5.375 marine hectares
Schedule:
Schedule: 8:00am to 4:00pm
When to go?

Dolphin watching: March and April
North whales watching: December to April
South whales watching: July to October
Turtle spawning: August to December
Dry season: December through April

Conatct information
Reservations:
Regional Office:
(00506) 2786-5392
Phone:
(00506) 2786-7161
Fax:
E-Mial:
Send mail
Web Page:
Visit Wen Page
Entrace:
Citizens:
Adults:
¢1000 (derecho a acampar)
Children:
¢400
Toursits:
Adults:
$6 (derecho a acampar)
Children:
$1
Camping permissions:
¢
$
General information
This park is the place where humpback whales come for the summer season to give birth to their young. These whales live in the waters of the north and the south parts of the continent. This place is as well a perfect spot to see dolphins, turtles and coral reefs, having more than 60.000 people visiting it every year.

Description
The Ballena National Marine Park was created in order to protect endangered habitats that are key for the reproduction and spawning of many sea species, such as whales and dolphins, and also to preserve the productivity of biological communities that live in its shores.

Even though most part of its territory covers marine areas, there are also beautiful sand and rock beaches like Playa Ballena, Playa Bahia Uvita and Playa Piñuelas. There are also cliffs and some mangrove forests bordering the rivers that flow into the ocean. This swamp area is an ecosystem that serves as shelter to many fish species, birds and shellfish.

You can also find rock islands like Isla Ballena and the islets called Tres Hermanas (Three Sisters).

Weather
The average annual temperature ranges between 18°C and 23° C, and the annual rainfall is of 4.000 mm.
Dry season: December through April
Rainy season: May through November

Flora
This park has different mangrove swamps with species like the red mangrove, the salty mangrove, the piñuela, the botoncillo and the mariquita.

In the beaches you can find many palm trees and bushes, as well as short beach vegetation. There are few blackberry bushes and cork trees, which are very tall. You can also find different seaweed species in the ocean.


Fauna
The Ballena National Marine Park protects different marine environments where you can find animals such as crabs, worms, about 70 types of reefs and deep-water fish, sea sponges and shellfish.

There have been found 5 species of Costa Rican Pacific corals, with the coral Porites lobata as the most common one. You can see animals like manta rays, hammerhead sharks, starfish and gardens of sea fans.

Some endangered species are protected in these waters due to the over-exploitation they have suffered. Two of these species are the Caribbean spiny lobster, that lives under the rocks of the islets, and the Strombus galeatus, a type of snail.

In the park you can find common, spotted and bottlenose dolphins, and also humpback whales that visit the park’s waters when they are migrating. They come here to find warm waters in order to give birth to their young and then feed them, which is one of the main reasons for the creation of this park. You can see them in groups of 2 or 3. Other types of whales, such as killer and pilot whales have also been seen occasionally in the park.

During summer, leatherback and green turtles come to lay their eggs in Playa Ballena. In this beach, some bird species have been seen, like the neotropic cormorant, the little blue heron, the fisher hawk, the spotted sandpiper and the whimbler.

In Isla Ballena and the islets Tres Hermanas there are two different reptiles: the green iguana and the basiliscus lizard. There are also birds like the magnificent frigatebird, the American white ibis and brown pelicans that use these islands as a resting place.


Services and facilities on the Park
Landing strip
Information center
Picnic area
Viewpoint
Ticket office
Restrooms
Drinking water
Camping area

Activities
Inside the Park:
Snorkeling
Diving (superficial and deep diving)
Waking along the trails and in the beach
Boat tours
Dolphin and whale watching
Visiting the mangrove swamps
Volunteer jobs
Camping
Surfing
Swimming
Visiting the Punta Uvita isthmus

Outside the Park
Surfing
Diving and snorkeling
Fishing
Swimming
Staying in cabins or hotels
Restaurants in the town of Uvita and its surroundings

Ballena
  • Recomendations
  • Interesting data
Tips para el viajero
Recommendations:
Access recommendations
Park’s schedule: 8:00am to 4:00pm

General recommendations inside the park
In case you need any help, go to the park rangers, they will be more than willing to assist you.
The boats for the tours are rented in the town of Uvita.

Clothes and accessories recommendations
Bring comfortable clothes and non-skid shoes.
Bring photo camera and binoculars.
Bring cap or hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
Bring diving or snorkeling equipment.

Stay recommendations
You can visit the park in a one-day trip, but you can also camp there or stay in a nearby hotel or cabin.

Recommendations with the ocean
Be careful with ocean currents when swimming or doing other activities at sea.

Recommendations for a responsible tourist
Please do not litter, pick up the garbage and throw it away properly.
Respect the animals and the surrounding vegetation.
Loud noises are not allowed (stereos, horns, speakers, etc.) as they may disturb the peace and calmness of the park and its animals.

Recommendations with the animals
Dolphin watching: March and April
North whales watching: December to April
South whales watching: July to October
Turtle spawning: August to December









Datos interesantes
Datos interesantes:
Sites of interest:
Isla Ballena: it has a very inclined slope that can even reach 20 meters in depth. Different bird species nest here all through the year. Here you can practice diving and appreciate a wide variety of marine animals. The boat tours for whale watching arrive to this point.

Islets Tres Hermanas: they have the most developed coral reef, where you can find coral species like the Nucura (Porites lobata), the most common one. It forms very large colonies (between 1 and 3 meters in diameter), some growing on top of other ones, which forms cavities and caves. These caves are home and shelter to many different species of animals and seaweeds.

IMPORTANT:
Roca la Viuda (“The Widow Rock”): this zone is not included as part of the park, and is located in the west end of the territory. However, due to its marine diversity, some studies for extending the park’s borders have been taking place in order to include this area. It’s common to find here gardens of sea fans instead of coral reefs. This area has very strong currents but it’s perfect for diving during the dry season.

The Isla Ballena, the islets Tres Hermanas and the rock La Viuda are connected by an underwater, deeper rock arch. They are very important for the spawning of some reptiles and nesting of sea birds.

Playa Uvita: is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, with moderate waves that are safe for bathing. Punta Uvita is located in the north end and there are swamps and mangroves along the beach, like Estero Negro. This beach is a spawning site for many turtles. In the south end of the beach you can find another swamp that separates Playa Uvita from Playa Colonia.

Playa Colonia: this beach has a place called Punta Quebrada, which is very popular among surfers. This spot is also ideal for walking and horseback riding.

Playa Ballena: this beach has little waves and fine sand. From its shore you can see Isla Ballena (less than 3 km away) and also whales and dolphins that are migrating. It has amazing sceneries that its visitors will definitely enjoy.
Playa Piñuela: small beach that is located between rocky formations. Here you will find Punta Piñuela, which delimits the south end of the park. From its shore you can see the islets Tres Hermanas.

Punta Uvita Isthmus: an isthmus is a sand bridge that connects Isla Uvita with the continent. It forms due to the accumulation of sand that then bonds with rock chains (most part of it remains underwater). You can walk over this natural bridge when the tide is low. It is 1 km long and has the shape of a whale’s tail.


Main trail: it is 730 meters long and has access all year long. This trail goes along the Uvita section where you can find typical species of the beach ecosystem.

History
The first people that settled in this zone came from San Isidro del General, and they were looking for ways to grow banana plantations and sell it to the banana export company, activity they carried out for many years.
After the construction of the Pan-American Highway, some towns began to grow in Bahia Ballena, Playa Hermosa, Uvita and San Josecito, which allowed a wider development of water, electricity, telephone and public transportation services.
This area has a great potential for tourism.

Coral reefs
The most important oceanic environments of the area are the organic or coral reefs. They are formed by organisms, coral seaweeds and some sea sponges. Their structure is porous, with 50% of empty spaces.
Throughout their growing process, canals and cavities form and then connect, and this way allow the coexistence of a great variety of species.
The coral reefs are tropical communities that develop in temperatures that range from 18°C to 23°C and are very sensitive to temperature changes and sediment deposition.

Ballena
como llegar?
How to get there?
Buses:
Buses:
Transportes MUSOC (San Jose, Central Street, Ave. 22-24)
From San Jose to San Isidro del General:
Every day: from 5:30 am to 5:30 pm (every hour)
From San Isidro to San Jose:
Every day: from 5:30 am to 5:30 pm (every hour)
Office phone number: (506) 2222-2422, (506) 2771-0414
Transportes Blanco (600 meters from the stop of MUSOC)
From San Isidro del General to Uvita:
Every day: 9:00am and 4:00pm
From Uvita to San Isidro del General:
Every day: 5:45am and 1:45pm
Office phone number: (506) 2771-4744

Car:
From San Jose, take the route #2 for about 134 km, heading south, until you get to San Isidro del General. Once you’re there, take the exit that goes southwest towards Playa Dominical (28 km), and here, take the exit that heads south through the route #34 for about 20 km.

Other kind of transportation
Domestic flights:
The flights depart from the Juan Santamaria airport.
Sansa
Website: http://www.flysansa.com/

 

Ballena
 
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