The Guide To Marino Ballena National Park

We use affiliate links to support our travels. Read more here

The Guide To Marino Ballena National Park

Hola 👋 

Marino Ballena National Park is located in the town of Uvita on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. About an hour south of Manuel Antonio, this marine sanctuary is home to empty beaches, coral reefs, and some amazing marine life. We timed it to get there on low tide (a must do), and we spent the morning exploring the surreal coastline. 

The park protects a diverse ecosystem that includes humpback whale breeding grounds, mangrove forests, and important nesting sites for sea turtles. This guide to Marino Ballena National Park will cover logistics, activities, and general info. Let’s go!

Marino Ballena National Park
  • Pinterest

The entrance to Marino Ballena Park

Getting to the  Park

Marino Ballena National Park is located near the town of Uvita. The journey takes around 4-4.5 hours by car from San Jose or 1 hour from any of the best hotels Manuel Antonio. Once you reach Uvita, follow the signs to the park entrance. There are a few easy parking areas right outside of the park entrance that cost around ₡3000-₡5000 for the day.

Don’t forget this wireless phone charger if you’re using a navigation app. It’s not too hard to find but Waze can be helpful in finding the main gate and GPS can drain your phone battery quickly. See the Google Map below for directions from Tulemar Resort, one of our favorite hotels EVER.

The park hours are from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m every day and the price is $6 for a non-resident (as of May 2023). You can buy tickets from the national parks website here.

Only an hour driving from Manuel Antonio

Marino Ballena National Park
  • Pinterest

Easy and safe parking near the entrance

The Beach

Marino Ballena National Park is home to several pristine beaches. These palm-fringed shores offer soft sands, warm waters, and a tranquil atmosphere perfect for sunbathing, swimming, or simply taking in the breathtaking scenery. At low tide, the iconic Whale’s Tail sandbar emerges at Playa Uvita, creating a unique, whale tail-shaped formation that you can walk on and explore.

Marino Ballena National Park
  • Pinterest

Empty and pristine

Anna at Marino Ballena National Park
  • Pinterest

Anna exploring the empty park

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

The park’s coral reefs and diverse marine life make it an ideal destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. Among the colorful underwater inhabitants, you may encounter sea turtles, manta rays, and a variety of tropical fish. Several local tour operators offer guided snorkeling and scuba diving excursions, providing you with an opportunity to explore this underwater paradise up close. Check out snorkeling at Caño Island.

Whale and Dolphin Watching

Marino Ballena National Park is renowned for its humpback whale population, which migrates to the area for mating and calving from July to October. During these times, you can witness these gentle giants from a safe distance on guided whale watching tours. Additionally, you might spot playful dolphins in the park’s warm waters. Pick up one of these waterproof phone cases if you’re going on a boat to make sure you hold on to your device.

Marino Bellena National Park Whale Tail
  • Pinterest

The Whale Tail on a low tide

Tips for Visiting

Check the tide schedule

To experience the Whale’s Tail sandbar, plan your visit during low tide. Make sure to leave the sandbar before the tide rises to avoid getting stranded.

Bring the essentials

Pack some reef-safe sunscreen, insect repellent, water, and snacks for your visit. There are a few little markets outside of the main gate if you need to buy any last minute items. Check out our complete Costa Rica packing list here.

Practice sustainable tourism

Help preserve Marino Ballena National Park. Minimize your environmental impact by staying on the marked trails and disposing of trash responsibly. Pack it in and pack it out!

Respect the wildlife

Maintain a safe distance from animals and never feed them. There may be crocodiles near the river mouths, so stay on the trails!

Marino Ballena Park tide sign
  • Pinterest

Be sure to check the tides first!

Don’t Forget

You can buy almost anything you need in the area, but the prices of some items may surprise you. Sunscreen can cost upwards of $20 USD for a normal size tube at the local market. Some of our don’t forget items are listed below.

Sunscreen – Reapply all day when you’re outside. The sun is no joke here!
Bug Spray – Bugs are minimal in the day but mosquitoes often come out in the evening.
Quick-dry towel – These quick-dry towels are also sand free.
Waterproof hat – I like this floating hat, but anythig works.
Polarized sunglasses – They don’t have to break the bank. Check out these polarized sunglasses by Blenders.
Waterproof phone case – Great if you’re going to be on the ocean.

The beach of Marino Ballena National Park
  • Pinterest

The shoulder month of September 🤙

Let’s go!

Catching Marino Ballena National Park on a low tide is so cool. The beach expands what seems like forever, and the reflections of the clouds in the reflective sand are surreal. You can’t miss it if you’re in the area. Whether you’re a water person, a wildlife lover, or simply seeking a quiet escape, Marino Ballena National Park is a must-visit destination.

Are you staying in Jaco, Quepos, or Manuel Antonio? Don’t miss our guide to Manuel Antonio National Park.

Thanks for your support 🤙

We just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU. This 100% all-content, junk-free website’s biggest source of support is when you use our affiliate links for any purchases. It helps us continue sharing our guides and tips, without any ads. There is no extra cost to you and it’s the easiest way you can support us. We truly appreciate it!

Trip questions? Let’s Connect!

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Cody & Anna

Cody and Anna Traxler

We’re Cody and Anna, and we’ve fallen in love with Costa Rica over the past decade. We’re not experts in every part of the country, but our countless adventures have inspired us to create this travel guide. Our goal is to share our experiences and help you jet off on your own unforgettable journey. Enjoy Ultimate Pura Vida and start planning here 🤙

Travel Tips Delivered

Popular Posts

Rental Car Deals

Featured Essential

Our Favorite Sand-free Towel

Microfiber Towel

Pin It on Pinterest

Skip to content