Bahía Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge, Guanacaste

Magnificent Frigatebird inflated throat pouch for breeding season
Magnificent Frigatebird inflated throat pouch for breeding season
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Spanning 505-hectares along the northwestern coast of Costa Rica, Bahía Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge was established in January 1995 to protect the coastal mangroves and dry forest of the region. This refuge is located within the town of La Cruz, Guanacaste, and it is about 33 kilometers from Liberia and neighbors the Santa Rosa National Park. Visitors can come here to explore the native wildlife as well as engage in recreational activities like hiking, swimming and snorkeling. With an average year-round temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) and a rainfall of 59 inches (1500 mm), this refuge is ideal no matter what time of the year you plan to travel.

Bahía Junquillal is one of the best places to visit if you are looking for a calming and tranquil destination, as the beach vegetation is virtually untouched. The crystal clear turquoise waters and sugar-sand beaches stretch for 2 kilometers, and are ideal for a scenic stroll. The water conditions also make it a great place to snorkel and swim. Scuba diving, fishing and boating are also popular here. The shore is a nesting site for the Olive Ridley sea turtles, so travelers may even get a sneak peak of these magnificent creatures swimming to the shore to lay eggs on the beach. Green Turtles and Hawksbill turtles nest along the shore as well.

Wildlife

Bahía Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge is a great destination for bird watchers, as there are a variety of avian species, especially marine birds. Some of the birds that reside in this area include Brown Pelicans, Yellow-naped Parrots, White-throated Magpie-jays and the Magnificent Frigatebirds.

Although this park is one of Costa Rica's smallest, it contains a vast variety of species and types of vegetation. Travelers have a good chance of seeing white-faced Capuchin Monkeys, Mouthless Crab, Black-spiny-tailed Iguanas, White-tailed Deer, White-nosed Coatis and Raccoons.

Things to Remember when Visiting

A great destination combining the sun, sand and wildlife, the Bahía Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge also has a number of short trails for the trekking enthusiast. There is a picnic and camping area at the refuge, with rest rooms, a public telephone, radio services and other facilities. If you happen to camp here during the dry season, one thing you need to keep in mind is that water is scarce during these times.

With great weather most of the year, clear pristine waters and a wide lovely beach, this area is a quiet and peaceful place to kickback and relax, with not many tourists around. In the distance, you can spot the Guanacaste Mountains as well as the Orosí Volcano.

Getting to Bahía Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge

Since the wildlife refuge is located right off the Pan-American Highway, visitors won't have issues reaching this area of Costa Rica. You can travel here via plane, bus or car. Daniel Oduber's Liberia International Airport in just outside of Liberia is a 1-hour drive from the refuge, and you can take a domestic flight directly to the airport from San Jose's Juan Santamaria Airport.