The Parque Nacional Marino Ballena near Uvita comprises only a small area on land, as it was founded in 1989 and extended in 1992 mainly to protect the marine habitat on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast.
Its water border follows an imaginary line that runs along the rocky outcrops that surround the “Tómbolo” of Punta Uvita, the islands of Isla Ballena, Tres Hermanas and their surroundings. It begins at the mouth of the Boca del Río Higuerón and ends at Punta Piñuelas in the south. Protected landforms include sandy and rocky beaches, rocky coasts, rocky and coral reefs, islands and the sand of Punta Uvita’s Tómbolo, which has been deposited on the rocky base for thousands of years and has created a land link between the mainland and the offshore island. From the air, this geological formation has the outline of a whale fin. However, this fact did not give the National Park its name, but that its waters are considered an important resting place for several species of dolphins and whales, including humpback whales, which migrate here during the winter and summer months. Among the most important maritime habitats are coral reefs, which provide a habitat for a multitude of living creatures.
The bird life of the Marino Ballena National Park includes frigate birds, snowhoppers, pelicans and Brown Booby. Especially at low tide it is easy to snorkel from the beach, while the offered boat tours, no matter if as snorkeling tours or to observe the sea birds, often fall short of expectations, as the boats are not allowed to land at the offshore islands. A special feature of the wildlife in the National Park is a colony of sea lizards, which look like prehistoric flotsam when they sunbathe on the rocks between the saltwater pools in between their dives for algae, and position their bodies in such a way that they achieve the maximum warming effect.
The small town of Uvita is located 16 km south of the seaside resort of Dominical on the coastal road Costanera Sur, which is particularly popular with North Americans. The extent of tourism is still manageable, especially if you compare it with other sections of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Nevertheless, Uvita is booming, and the number of hotels and private construction projects is growing steadily. Small hotels still predominate and there are hardly more than a dozen restaurants in the surroundings of the national park, even if the small Ojochal, located approximately 16 km south of Uvita, is considered as a culinary hotspot of the country.