Santa Rosa National Park is not only the oldest national park in the country but also the largest one, stretching to up to 49, 515 hectares. Initially built to protect the scene of the Battle of Santa Rosa which only lasted for fifteen minutes, it has now become even more than just a historical monument. It is the home of one of the last dry tropical forests of the country as well as myriads of flora and fauna in the province of Guanacaste.
The park was established in 1972 and houses majority of the Santa Elena Peninsula. It is part of a collective mosaic of interdependent wildlife and forest reserves namely Rincón de la Vieja National Park,Junquillal Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Bolaños Island Wildlife Refuge and the Horizontes Experimental Station. That’s a total of approximately 110,000 hectares of Guanacaste property.
10 Habitats Protected
One fact that separates Santa Rosa National Park apart from all the other parks in the entire world is that it protects ten different habitats. Two swamps, desidious forests, littoral woodland, mangrove and mesquite-nacascol, savannahs and marshlands, oak and evergreen forests can all be found in this park. These areas are well preserved because Santa Rosa National Park is lucky enough to not suffer droughts.
The Beaches of the Park
Playa Naranjo- Surfers love especially love this beach. Even if its sands are pale gray, it still is flocked by surfing enthusiasts as it is a take-off point to Witch’s Rock- the world-renowned surf spot because of its killer waves and breaks. Playa Naranjo also boasts of a diverse wildlife with occasional sightings of crocodiles, monkeys, iguanas to name a few.
Playa Nancite- this Santa Rosa beach is most famous for being a nesting site of multitudes of arribadas or olive ridley turtles which only happens in this beach and in the southern Ostional area. Over 75,000 turtles come here every year, although the reason why they choose this area is still a bit of a mystery.
Playa Portrero Grande- Double overhead waves are the highlight of this Santa Rosa beach. It’s located in the northern part of Nancite and is practically inaccessible by land. Boats can take you there if you’re looking for some hardcore waves and you can also try scuba diving in an area of this beach called the Bat Islands.
The Sectors of the Park
There are two sectors found in the Santa Rosa National Park. The first which is considered as the more important sector is the Santa Rosa Sector and the other one is the Murciélago Sector.
Santa Rosa Sector
La Casona is the main attraction in this area which is the historical and colonial homestead. Near it is a stone corral where the battle with William Walker took place. Inside of the casa are some of the illustrations, photographs and a small collection of guns which stand as a commemoration the 1856 battle. Huge wooden mortars and pestles are also on display as well as centenary riding gear.
Don’t be afraid of the bats flying around the are as they are harmless. Occasional sightings of wild animals can also be found here. The flora and fauna here goes well with the small nature exhibit found in the area.
This sector covers the northern area of the Santa Elena Peninsula and is the take-off point to the beaches and bays of the Santa Rosa National Park. This houses Playa Blanca-the most isolated beach in the country. and is home to a lot of pelicans and frigate birds. There are also waterfalls surrounding the Cuajiniquil Canyon and this sector also features Poza El General which is a famous watering hole that draws multitudes of waterfowls the whole year round.
The Santa Rosa National Park has come a long way since its start as a refuge of the historical battlesite and forested areas. Offering almost everything you’d like to discover about nature and all that surrounds it, this national park is one for the record worldwide.
The park is 260 km. away from San Jose and 35 km. north of Liberia but the long drive ahead isn’t hard and boring as there are many signs that will lead you to your destination and panoramic views of valleys and beaches.
Places to Stay
Four Seasons Resort
Occidental Allegro Papagayo