Las Baulas Marine National Park
Size: 612 hectares of land 22,000 hectares of sea
Dry season: January through March
Distance from San Jose: 321 kilometers via Liberia
Trails: Yes. Along the beach.
These are three beaches in this park: Grande Beach, Langosta Beach and Ventana Beach. Grande Beach, Tamarindo are part of the Refuge, is one of the most important nesting sites in the world for the leatherback turtle. This species, which is the largest of all sea turtles, over 2 meters long and weigh up to 700 kilos. It is black with very long fins and it is the only turtle that is cover by a very thick skin, which is like leather, rather than a real shell has. It is easy to see the leatherback turtle, not only because of its enormous size, but also because it has seven elongated ribs or bumps on the back.
The total number of turtles that nest Grande Beach is not known, but it is speculated that as many as 200 can lay their eggs in one night. The part of the beach set aside as a refuge extends 3.6 km. Long and corresponds to the most important sector, where the turtles come each year to dig their nests in the sand. This happens in the night from the month of November to April. In addition to the leatherback, olive ridley turtle sometimes nest in Grande Beach.
The rest of the refuge, which covers almost 400 hectares, comes from the Tamarindo mangrove swamp. The five species of mangroves, which are known on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica thrive here. They are the black mangrove, white mangrove, red mangrove, buttonwood mangrove and tea mangrove. The red mangrove is the most common of all.
Wildlife in the mangrove swamps is quite varied and plentiful, especially in view of the birds. 57 species of birds have been sighted, which are seen most often the great egrets, cattle egrets, white ibis, great blue herons and Muscovy duck.
Grande Beach as the name implies, is very large. At low tide, the distance between the sea and at the forefront of plant growth is 70 meters. It is made up of solid sand that makes it easy to walk, and it is the perfect place for animals and plants that are typical of tropical beaches. Other animals that live in the sand beach ghost crabs, shrimps and hermit crabs.
The park is located on the northern peninsula of Nicoya, near the town of Salinas, there is no camping allowed in the park. There are several hotels in the town of Tamarindo, and more will follow. Boats in the mangrove swamp can be arranged.
Birds frequently seen in the park: frigate birds, Franklin gull, brown pelicans, sandpipers, roseate spoonbills, laughing gull.
Turtles that nest here: Pacific green turtles, hawksbill turtles, Leatherback Turtle and Olive Ridley Turtle.
Giant leatherback turtles can travel all over the world, but they keep coming back to Costa Rica to lay their eggs. The most important nesting sites are in Las Baulas National Marine Park, that includes Grande and Langosta beaches and the offshore area where the turtles spend most of their breeding season.
Leatherback are the largest in the world seven species of sea turtles, averaging 770 pounds (350 kg) and more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length. Witnesses of the life cycle of these ancient giants is a moving experience that reminds you how fragile nature is and what a great responsibility we have to protect it for future generations.
Animals found in the park: raccoons, howler monkeys, white-nosed coati, caimans, ctenosaur, Mullet, Roosterfish, Jack Crevalle, snapper, snook and stingrays, caimans and crocodiles.