About the Refuge

Where and what is this sea turtle sanctuary?


The Refuge was established in 1983 with the primary objective of the Refuge is the conservation of sea turtles and the protection of their reproductive habitat. Additionally, the Refuge protects important habitat for a diversity of coastal and marine flora and fauna, with connectivity through the Rio Nosara Biological Corridor to Parque Nacional Barra Honda.

The Ostional National Wildlife Refuge extends 15 km along the shoreline, including the beaches of Ostional, Nosara, Pelada, and Guiones. It covers 200 m of coastline, also extending inland along estuaries and mangroves and including 3 nautical miles of marine protected area.

Marine and terrestrial protected areas

Sea Turtles 

Three species of protected sea turtles nest at the Refuge: the olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), Pacific green (Chelonia mydas agassizii), and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtle. 

Other flora and fauna 

Within the Refuge, sightings of dolphins, sea turtles, howler monkeys, coati mundis, violaceous trogons, magpie jays, and turquoise browed mot-mot are all common sights. 


Sightings of whales, dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays, tamanduas, jaguarundis, ocelots, kinkajous, and aracaris are not uncommon. 

The Egg Harvest Program

Ostional is the only beach in the world where a legal harvest and commercialization of sea turtle eggs exists. The take of eggs was justified by scientific studies which found a large percentage of nests are destroyed by subsequently nesting turtles during the arribada. 


Therefore, in 1987 the government of Costa Rica established a law that allows the community of Ostional to harvest a small percentage of the eggs laid during the first three days of the arribada. In return, the Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de Ostional (ADIO) is responsible for protecting the turtles, cleaning debris from the beach, and patrolling day and night for poachers.

Learn more:

Campbell, L. M. (1998). Use them or lose them? Conservation and the consumptive use of marine turtle eggs at Ostional, Costa Rica. Environmental Conservation, 25 (4), 305–319. 


Campbell, L. (2007). Sustainability of community-based conservation: Sea turtle egg harvesting in Ostional (Costa Rica) ten years later. Environmental Conservation, 34 (2): 122–131.

Valverde, R. A., Orrego, C. M., Tordoir, M. T., Gomez, F. M., Solis, D. S., Hernandez, R. A., Spotila, J. R. (2012). Olive ridley mass nesting ecology and egg harvest at Ostional Beach, Costa Rica. Chelonian Conservation and Biology, 11 (1), 1–11.

The Refuge Administration

The team of park rangers  at the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge are an essential asset to the protection and conservation of this important habitat.

Photo: Ostional National Wildlife Refuge park rangers.

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         +506 8351-4000

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         Playa Guiones, Nosara 

         Ostional National Wildlife Refuge

         Guanacaste, Costa Rica

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