We conserve the world’s most imperiled populations of sea turtles through research, habitat protection, education and advocacy.
Leatherbacks are the main draw for most visitors to Las Baulas National Park. Guides offer tours of Las Baulas National Park during leatherback nesting season (October 20 - February 15). Tours to see nesting leatherback turtles are always at night but actual times vary according to high tides. The total number of visitors is restricted to 30 persons per turtles (in groups of up to 15 persons each) and unregistered visitors are not allowed. To make a reservation, visit the Las Baulas National Park headquarters at Playa Grande or call (+506) 2653-0470, ext. 101 up to 8 days before the desired tour date to make a reservation. If you are unable to make a reservation prior to your arrival in country, we recommend visiting the Las Baulas National Park headquarters upon arrival to make your tour reservation in person.
Please note that The Leatherback Trust is unable to make reservations for third-parties with Las Baulas National Park. We sincerely regret any inconvenience.
Visitors may be asked to wait at the park headquarters until scientists or park guards spot a turtle on the beach. The maximum waiting time can be up to 6 hours. Books, board games and snacks are great ways to pass the time. On some occasions, turtles may not appear on the beach and visitors may be sent home. Visitors are not charged unless turtle sightings are confirmed.
To protect the turtles, visitors are reminded to always follow instructions from park guides and guards. Remember to keep a safe distance from nesting turtles and speak in low voices only when necessary. Flashlights and flash photography are restricted on the beach and visitors are asked to stay out of the turtle’s field of vision. Nesting turtles enter a trance as they lay eggs and visitors may see biologists measuring the length of the turtle’s carapace, checking for identification and counting the eggs. Scientists are unable to answer questions during this time, so visitors should direct questions to their local guide or wait until the tour is over. As soon as the nesting turtle begins to cover her nest with her front flippers, visitors are asked to retreat to allow her a full range of motion to camouflage the nest and return to sea.
Visitors can help protect turtles by following the rules and spreading the message of conservation. If you see turtle hatchlings on the beach, please keep dogs or other potential predators away and call a ranger at Las Baulas National Park headquarters at (+506) 2563-0470, ext. 101 or The Leatherback Trust's team of biologists at Goldring-Gund Marine Biology Station at (+506) 2653-0635.
Apart from turtle tours, visitors are invited to surf, swim and enjoy the beautiful beaches of Playa Grande, Playa Ventanas, Playa Carbón and Playa Langosta. Many visitors enjoy snorkeling at Playa Carbón and kayaking in the bays. Please note that the beaches are closed at night to protect turtles during nesting season.
There is also excellent birdwatching in Ventanas Estuary or Tamarindo Wetland. Local guides spot crocodiles and monkeys on tours of the Tamarindo Wetland. Visitors can also schedule a wetland tour by calling Las Baulas National Park at (+506) 2653-0470, ext. 101.
Ventanas estuary provides critical habitat for American crocodiles. Herons and roseate spoonbills nest in the Tamarindo estuary. Howler monkeys call as night falls.
Images by C. Díaz-Chuquisengo 2014