Las Baulas Marine National Park
The Las Baulas Marine National Park is located in the Nicoya Peninsula, in the Guanacaste Province. Leatherback turtle nesting (Dermochelys coriacea) constitutes the main attraction in this park, which includes Carbón, Ventanas, Langosta and Grande beaches.
It's the most important zone for nesting of this species in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and the American continent. Due to the critical risk of extinction in which they are now, conservation and protection measures have been taken for these marine giants, with large participation of the neighboring community of Matapalo, which in turn benefits a great deal through the tourism that visits the beaches.
¿How to get there?
There are two different sites where you may enter this park: through Grande beach directly or through Tamarindo beach. To arrive through Grande beach you must take a bus from San José to Huacas. The buses that take this route are from the Tralapa Company (the station is located in San José, 300m north and 25m west from the Children's Hospital) and the telephone number for schedule information is 2223-5859. The other bus company is Alfaro (the station is located in San José, 300m north from the main entrance of the San Juan de Dios Hospital and the telephone number is 2222-2666).
When you arrive at Huacas you must take a taxi to the village in Grande beach which takes about 30 minutes. The other option is going through Tamarindo beach. The Alfaro buses travel directly from San José to Tamarindo.
Planning the visit
The best time to observe the turtles laying their eggs is during the months of October through February, with December and January being the peak of the season. However, the Leatherback population is highly reduced and a sighting of one nesting cannot be guaranteed every night. The visit can only be done in the company of a local guide.
Authorized guides are at the entrance to Tamarindo beach, administered by the Local Guide Association, and at the main post of MINAE (Ministry of Environment and Energy) at Grande beach. A reservation must be made beforehand at the Park, since only 60 persons are admitted each night so that turtles are not harmed.
Reservations can be made by phone in Tamarindo at 2653-1687 and at Grande beach at 2653-0470.
The service is more expensive in Tamarindo beach since a boat must be taken in order to cross the estuary and arrive at the zone where the turtles nest.
Food and lodging
There are several hotels and restaurants in both beaches. Among these, in Grande beach there's Rip Jack Inn hotel (www.ripjackinn.com), Las Tortugas hotel (www.tamarindo.com/tortugas) and the Grande Beach Vacation Center known as Kike`s Place (telephone: 2653-0834).
Tamarindo beach has others such as Luna Llena hotel (www.hotellunallena.com), Estrellas del Pacífico hotel (telephone: 2653-0875), El Milagro hotel (www.elmilagro.com) and many more with various prices according to the services they provide, all of them with easy access. For more information about other sites you may visit pages http://www.hotels.co.cr/ or http://www.govisitcostarica.com/
Volunteer work is possible at Las Baulas Marine National Park. Those interested may contact directly the offices of MINAE at Grande beach (telephone: 2653-0470) or the Volunteer Association ASVO [(506) 8843-2324 / 2258-4430/ 2233-4989]; it may also be done through Earthwatch (www.earthwatch.org) an organization in charge of conservation and research on Leatherback turtles in this site.
- Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) at Grande beach: 2653-0470
- Tamarindo Local Guide Association (ACUATAM): 2653-1687