The Piedras Blancas National Park (PNPB) is one of the most recently created protected areas and one of the least visited in Costa Rica. It protects both continental (14,147 ha) and maritime (1,200 ha) area. It was created in 1991 (Executive Decree No. 23153-MIRENEM) to protect the last remnant of tropical rain forest in Golfito and the Esquinas River basin.
More than 65 million years ago, the uplift of seamounts gave rise to what is today Piedras Blancas. It has a particular topography: very steep piedmonts that begin where the high tide arrives. Surrounded by coral reefs and communities, rocky points and with a mangrove forest as a limit, the coastal marine part of the park is as fascinating as the land part. The PNPB is one of the national parks that still conserves viable populations of threatened species: big cats such as the Jaguar (Panthera onca) and Puma (Puma concolor) and birds such as the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) and the Tanager antigue carinegra (Habia) atrimaxillaris). You can also find trees such as Nazareno (Peltogyne purpurea), Vaco (Brosimum utile) and Pilón (Hyeronima alchorneoides) whose populations have declined due to overexploitation of timber resources occurred more than 60 years ago.
You can access the PNPB by land from the community of La Gamba to enjoy the trails in the forest, or by sea from Golfito, if the objective is to appreciate the marine scenery. A tourist plan for this protected area contemplates the creation of a marine control post that facilitates the entrance to the coastal area, the zoning of the points of tourist interest and the benefit to the local community. This plan is under development by its main actors: hoteliers such as Playa Cativo Lodge and local entrepreneurs who know that biodiversity is protected by the sustainable use of resources. ■
By Alejandra Rojas