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Marino Ballena National Park is named after the humpback whales that migrate here every year. The park was established in 1990, and contains 270 acres of land and the largest coral reef on the Pacific side of Central America.

Between December and April, the humpback whales can be seen in the park's waters, migrating from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii - they are highly acrobatic and can often be seen breaching. 

On land, the long quiet stretches of sand are home to green marine iguanas who bask and feed on the algae that grows on the coral.

Olive ridley and hawksbill turtles come ashore to lay their eggs between May and November, the largest numbers usually arriving with the waning moon in September. Marino Ballena is not as closely monitored or regulated as some nesting sites, and you may find yourself alone on the beach. Should this be the case, be aware that you must not use a torch or flashgun, make a loud noise or approach too closely, or else you may scare the turtles away.

Offshore you can also see bottlenose and common dolphins, and the park's birdlife includes frigatebirds, brown-footed boobies, pelicans and ibises.

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: humpback whale, hawksbill turtle, olive ridley turtle, spinner dolphin, Bryde’s whale
  • Where: Puntarenas province, Costa Rica