Ostional Natural Game Preserve

Another game preserve is situated to the south, past Playa Lagarto and the mouth of the Rio Tabac. The Refugio Nacional de Fauna Silvestre de Ostional (National Refuge for Forest Fauna of Ostional) also includes another 600 hectares of coastal water. It sprawls over 15 kilometers of coastline and includes the beaches of Playa Ostional, Playa Nosara and Playa Guiones. In the Laboratorio de Investigacion Tortuga Marinos (Laboratory for the Investigation of Sea Turtles), young people from an international youth exchange program led by biologists volunteer their time to protect endangered species of turtles (Proyecto de Tortugas). In Ostional they concentrate on the bastard turtle, which lays its eggs between July and December, particularly on dark nights during the new moon in August and September. Only a small percentage of the millions of eggs yield baby turtles, and of these, few reach maturity.

At first glance it seems contradictory that the local inhabitants are allowed to plunder the nests during the first days of the egg-laying season in the Ostional Game Preserve. The biologists argue that, in the first place, subsequently arriving turtles crush many of the eggs that were laid earlier, and secondly, allowing people to harvest eggs also involves them indirectly in the conservation process and awakens their awareness of the importance of the regular return of turtles to their beaches. Once the Ticos have gathered and sold the first crop of turtle eggs to local restaurants, the nests are protected for the rest of the season.

The average seasonal rainfall of 2,000 mm during the rainy season, from May to December, along with the average temperature of 28°C during the day, promotes lush growth in the deciduous forests of Ostional. Jasmine and prickly pear cacti, with delicate, refreshing fruit, grow in the forest. Shade trees, however, do not grow along the beach and there is still no ranger station at Ostional.

Swimming is not recommended at the Playa Ostional because of the dangerous undercurrents. The entire coast of the game preserve offers visitors other diversions. Howler monkeys, coatis, kinkajous, iguanas and crabs are plentiful in the forest and scrub growth along the shore. The mangrove swamp, at the mouth of the Rio Nosara, is the nesting place of more than 200 different kinds of birds including migratory plovers and magnificent royal terns.

Simple shops (pulperias) sell food and drinks to hikers so they can stock up for their next expedition along the paths leading through the park.

Playa Nosara, five kilometers from the village of the same name, also lies within the confines of the park. The village has several lively bars and restaurants and a number of family-run hotels. A large number of retired U.S. citizens live in small houses built along the wooded shore. Houses that can be rented by the week or month by vacationers are scattered among them. The limits placed on construction protects the forest and its monkeys, armadillos, toucans, colorful parrots and other protected species.

A path stretches the length of Playa Guiones, which is also part of the Ostional Game Preserve. Its perfectly straight white sand beach, small coral reef and warm water welcome visitors.

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