Fodor's Expert Review Ballena National Marine Park
Named for the whales who use this area as a nursery, the park has four separate Blue Flag beaches stretching for about 10 km (6 miles) and encompasses a mangrove estuary, a remnant coral reef, and more than 12,350 acres of ocean, home to tropical fish, dolphins, and humpback whales. Playa Uvita is the most popular sector of the park, with the longest stretch of beach and shallow waters calm enough for kids. Restaurants line the road to the Playa Uvita park entrance, but there are no food concessions within the park. Access to each of the four beaches—from north to south, Uvita, Colonia, Ballena, and Piñuela—is off the Costanera Highway. Although the official park offices are open 7 am to 4 pm, visitors can stay on longer, especially to view sunsets or camp.