The Ballena National Marine Park was the first official national marine park in Costa Rica, opening in 1989. Located along the Southern Pacific coast, it extends from the Morete River in Uvita Bay to Pinuela Point in Ballena Bay.
The parks most famous feature is the ‘tombolo’ rock formation, caused by the deposition of sands from biological and mineral origin which integrate with a chain of rocks that are submerged for a large proportion of the time. The tombolo can be reached at low tide, and from the air, looks like a whale’s tail!
The park has a number of primary objectives – protecting the coral reefs which have both commercial and biological importance; provide a refuge for Humpback whales which use the area for breeding from August to October; conserve the fragile coastal marine ecosystem.
Of the four official entrance points to the park, two (Pinuela and Ballena) are rocky, whilst Colonia and Uvita are golden beaches with palm trees, popular with tourists. Entry costs $6, and you can go there from 6am to 6pm.
It is possible to volunteer with the park rangers, if you wish – you need to go to the main entrance (Playa Ballena), and speak to the person in charge. For $18 per day you can stay in the park with the rangers, working on the beaches, doing maintenance and greeting tourists.
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