Ballena Marine National Park in Costa Rica along the Pacific Coast in South Puntarenas spans over 5,000 hectares of beach, mangroves, marine habitats, and rainforests. The national park was established in 1990 and was aimed at protecting the natural beauty and habitat of this region.

The national park gets its name from the Spanish word for whale (Ballena). It does not matter what time of year it is; tourists will likely get a glimpse of majesty humpback whales whether they are just passing through or breeding. The Ballena Marine National Park is the best place to go whale watching in Central America.


The Ballena Marine National Park has 15 kilometers of beach, which includes Ballena Beach, Uvita Bay Beach, Colonia Beach, and Pinuela Beach. As much as these pristine beaches attract many tourists, the national park is able to maintain its beauty without disrupting the ecosystems that exist in the area.

Marine Life At Ballena

Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful national parks. Visitors shouldn’t pass up the chance to visit the Ballena Marine National Park. It is a nature reserve that protects all sorts of marine life, such as mangroves, coral reefs, and beaches. Aside from humpback whales, visitors can expect to see bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, sharks, parrotfish, and manta rays. It’s a driver’s dream destination!

Other animals on the island are the marine iguanas, pelicans, ibises, and frigates that can be found nesting in the rock formations. Oliver Ridley and Hawksbill turtles nest from May to November with the highest volume during the month of September. Do keep in mind that although the national park is protected, nesting areas are not strictly monitored. Therefore, visitors are advised to be mindful of their whereabouts at the beach and avoid disturbing the turtles.


Costa Rica is blessed with good weather all year round. However, tourists should avoid going in October as it is when the rains are heaviest. The warmest month is March (93 F), and the coldest is January (87 F).

The dry season is from December to June, and the wet season is from July to November. Most tourists prefer to visit during the dry season. However, the rainy season is not that harsh—people still visit and manage to have a great time.

Keep in mind that during the wet season, the currents are stronger. Therefore, some activities might be restricted for safety reasons.

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Landmarks And Attractions

Visitors will have a great time exploring the national park by simply walking around, swimming, and observing the surroundings because there is so much to see. Check out the rock formations where marine iguanas and avian marine birds reside.

Tombolo is a rock formation shaped like the tail of a whale located in Uvita. Tourists usually visit the Tombolo during low tide to go snorkeling, swimming, and deep diving. However, tourists are advised to be careful of currents and riptides, even if it’s low tide. Other rock formations in the area include Isla Ballena and the Tres Hermanas Islets. Those who wish to chill by the beach can choose from Bahia, Colonia, Ballena, Arco, and Pinuelas.

What To Bring

Visitors should pack light and bring only the essentials when visiting Ballena Marine National Park. Bring only what is necessary and avoid leaving trash behind. Here are some suggestions:

  • Swimwear
  • Reef safe sunscreen
  • Snorkels (mask, snorkels; diving fins not allowed)
  • Drinking water
  • Hiking shoes


Ballena Marine National Park is a well-preserved natural sanctuary. Both the land and water offer so much, guests only need to take some time to explore the exotic animals and wildlife that already surrounds them.

Here are some of the best activities:

  • Snorkeling – tourists can appreciate the marine sanctuary that is so well-protected by the national park by going snorkeling. People do not have to go too far to see beautiful corals and different types of colorful fish and other animals.
  • Hiking - there are hiking trails at the park, where visitors can roam freely. Tourists are advised to stay on the trails to avoid any accidents and other untoward incidents.
  • Birdwatching – different species of avian marine birds live in the park. Some of them even nest in the nooks and crannies of rock formations.
  • Whale watching – humpback whales convene at Ballena Marine National Park a few times throughout the year. From July to October, humpback whales from South America pass through, while humpback whales from the North breed and mate from December to April.

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The Ballena Marine National Park is open every day of the year unless otherwise announced. With its tropical climate, one only has to work if it will rain or not during their visit. There is no shortage of sights to see. The park can be accessed through the following sectors: Uvita, Colonia, Ballena, and Pinuela.


  • Open from 7:00am to 4:00pm
  • Entrance fee: from $6
  • Send inquiries to

Where To Stay

Ballena Marine National Park is surrounded by different types of accommodations. No matter what your budget is, there is aroom for you:

  • Ballena Casa de Playa Equipada: from $55.58 per night
  • Makara Rio Suite: from $60 per night
  • Elan at Ballena Beach: from $364.53
  • Hotel Boutique Ballena Dorada: form $90 per night
  • Cristal Ballena Boutique Hotel & Spa: from $167.20

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