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COSTA BALLENA.COSTA RICA

A NATURAL WONDERLAND

South Pacific Region This southern zone has the highest percentage of preserved land as national parks and other reserves than any other region. The South Pacific region includes the southwest coast of Costa Rica and the southern part of the province of Puntarenas from Playa Dominical south to Panama. It extends to the east into the Talamanca Mountain Range and includes part of La Amistad International Park and Mount Chirripo. Dominical: A tranquil beach town 28 miles south of Quepos might become your favorite hideaway. A place of breath-taking scenery and killer waves, Dominical has surprisingly escaped the mass development so prevalent on other Pacific Coast beaches. Popular with surfers over the years, Dominical has only recently seen a rise in tourism. The intrepid will find mountains that jut up from the coastline and frame long stretches of palm-fringed beach. The spectacular scenery may inspire lots of hammock time, where non-surfers can watch boarders tackle big waves. Wildlife enthusiasts will love nearby Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge, where sloths, monkeys and toucans are frequently spotted in the rainforest. Ecotourism is the primary source of income for the refuge, which attracts travelers with a variety of nature and adventure tours including a tree-climbing adventure, rainforest hike, canopy tour and several bird watching excursions. At Ballena National Marine Park just south of Dominical, swimmers and snorkelers can enjoy calmer waters. The park is also a hot spot for dolphin and whale watching. In this watery realm, named after the humpback whales that migrate there from August - October and December - April, visitors can explore miles of deserted coconut lined beaches, mangrove forests and coral reefs. Protecting more than 5300 hectares of ocean and nine miles of coastline, the park also serves as a nesting site for endangered Olive Ridley and Hawksbill sea turtles. Uvita: Described by many as one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, southwestern Costa Rica has plenty of beautiful beaches and fantastic vistas. Of the many spectacular beaches found here, Playa Uvita is among the most stunning beaches on Costa Rica southern Pacific coast. Located in the southern Puntarenas province roughly 16 km south of Dominical, a surfing hotspot, Playa Uvita is situated within the Marino Ballena National Park. This marine park is very popular because between the months of December and April, and July through October, the Humpback Whales migrate here to the warm waters off the coast to mate before returning up north. Ojochal: The Village of Ojochal lies on the south central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Ojochal is approximately thirty minutes south of Dominical and thirty minutes north of Palmar Norte. This warm and welcoming village consists of a variety of hotels, restaurants, bars and various activities. The cultural diversity is as varied as the country itself. Ojochal is centrally located to several beautiful beaches and surrounded by magnificent mountains. The village itself captures the natural beauty and mystery of Costa Rica.

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