Las Baulas de Guanacaste
After seeing so many beautiful beaches, and bodies covered in suntan oil roasting in the sun, many a traveler in Costa Rica longs for a change and the chance to slip away into areas where nature remains untouched except by the wild animals that live there. The 450hectare Las Baulas de Guanacaste National Park, established in 1991 at the mouth of the Rio Matapolo, fulfills such desires. Along with the Tamarindo National Game Preserve, Las Baulas is the most important area on the entire Pacific coast where leatherback turtles (baula) currently lay their eggs. During their laying season between October and April, as many as 100 female turtles have been seen on the beach. Most are leatherbacks, but some bastard turtles are among them. During the peak season, volunteer scouts help biologists protect the turtles and their eggs from over-enthusiastic animal lovers, and poachers who try to steal the eggs and newly-hatched turtles. The large numbers of visitors have also raised the costs of running the park. Because of this growing demand, Las Baulas has recently started charging admission and assigning visitors specific places from which they can observe the turtles.
Las Baulas is more than just a beach where leatherback turtles lay their eggs. A mangrove biotope spreads out along the border to Playa Tamarindo and there are another 22,000 hectares of protected park under the sea for the preservation of underwater creatures.