Ballena National Marine Park is named after the humpback whales that migrate to the area each year. The park got it's name from the Spanish word for whale, Ballena. The park is located on the south pacific coast of Costa Rica close to the communities of Uvita and Bahia Ballena in the province of Puntarenas. It was officially declared as a Marine National Park in 1989. This area was created to ensure the survival of critical habitats for marine species reproduction and nesting as well as to preserve the productivity of biological communities that inhabit the coastal areas.
The humpback whales migrate to the area from mid July through October and again in December through March. It is an ideal location for whale watching because it lies in the Costa Rica Thermal Convection Dome. This area is characterized by shallow, oxygen-rich warm water layered over much colder water. The shallow upper layer is like a dinner party for whales and dolphins being rich in their food supply of marine life. It brings the whales and dolphins closer to the surface making them easy to see.
The objective of the park is to conserve the rich marine ecosystems that are found inside the park boundaries. The Ballena National Marine Park makes up one percent of Costa Rica’s protected marine territory. The country has eleven times more marine territory than land, and has at least eighty-five native marine species.
The Ballena National Marine Park is surrounded by beautiful scenery with lush groves of palms and other jungle vegetation bordering the beautiful beach. From the beach you can walk out to the end of the Whale’s Tail, a well known sandbar formation that is a part of the park. Many boat tours originate from the park including; whale and dolphin watching, snorkeling and diving at Caño Island and hiking at Corcovado.
The Ballena National Marine Park contains a total of eighteen coral species making it one of the best snorkeling places to observe corals of the central-south pacific of Costa Rica and second to Cano Island Reserve. Together, Ballena National Marine Park and Caño Island Reserve make for the best Costa Rica snorkeling and diving destinations.
Olive Ridley and Hawksbill turtles can be seen laying their eggs on night visit to the beach between May and November. Beautiful birds including scarlet macaws, frigate birds, pelicans and ibises are often seen in the area.