Bahia Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge (Junquillal Bay National Wildlife Refuge ) was established on January 10th, 1995, to conserve and preserve a regenerative zone, as well as a dry forest that extends to the edge of the beach and coastal mangrove areas. The property known as Junquillal was donated in 1988 to be dedicated to environment conservation as part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area (ACG in Spanish).
It’s Located in La Cruz, Guanacaste, so it has an average temperature of 29°C (85ºF) and an annual rainfall of 1500 mm. The refuge is a recreational area that includes a 2 km long beautiful scenic white sandy beach with gentle waves and clear waters, a small decline and almost virgin beach vegetation. Its location is ideal for those seeking tranquility and privacy. The clear waters and sandy shore extension is ideal for long and comforting walks, as well as for snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, boating or swimming, even though water is a bit cool, as it gets the influence of an ocean current. Also, this beach in known for being a nesting site for sea turtles such as the Green (Chelonia mydas), Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea)and Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and very close to it the remains of a Pre-Hispanic settlement of people who farmed, hunted and gathered sea products was discovered.
Also as part of its attractions is bird watching, especially marine birds and Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) swimming a short distance from the beach from December to February, which can reach up to 15 m long. In addition, the presence of gigantic but inoffensive whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) has been reported.
Despite the small size of the Bahia Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge, you may see a wide variety of mammals such as White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica), raccoons (Procyon lotor), White-faced Capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus), spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata) and White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), as well as Black Spiny-tailed Iguanas (Ctenosaura similis), several species of lizards, Halloween crabs (Gecarcinus quadratus) and Mouthless crab (Cardisoma crassu).
Among the most common birds are several species of hawks, sparrows, Orange-fronted Parakeets (Aratinga canicularis), Yellow-naped Parrots (Amazona auropalliata), White-throated Magpie-Jays (Calocitta formosa), Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), Magnificent Frigatebirds (Fregata magnificens), and during the rainy season is possible to see the Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja).
The vegetation is characterized by trees remaining from the original dry forest. On the beach you can find Piñuelas (Aechmea magdalenae), Manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella), Beach bean (Canavalia maritima) and Bayahonda (Prosopis juliflora). As part of secondary forests are the Guanacaste tree (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), Rain Tree (Samanea saman), Brazil (Ematoxylum brasiletto) and the Gliricidia (Gliricidia sepium). Mangroves are home to several mangrove species, including red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erecta) and black mangrove (Avicennia germinan).
Bahia Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge has good infrastructure. The refuge administration is located 5 km north of Cuajinquil, along a gravel road, in this community you can find a market. Next to the administration is the camping area, for up to 8 people, with tables, drinking water, showers, grills and restrooms, the refuge also has trails and a parking lot. Other Costa Rican nearby parks include Isla Bolaños National Wildlife Refuge, Santa Rosa National Park, Guanacaste National Park, Iguanita National Wildlife Refuge and Rincón de la Vieja National Park.
Getting to Bahia Junquillal Wildlife Refuge:
Drive north to Puntarenas and then follow the Pan-American highway towards Liberia. Once in Liberia, continue along the same highway for about 50km (31 miles), then take the exit to your left towards Junquillal, and continue for 9 km (5.5 miles) until you get to Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge. This route requires a total of 5 to 6 hours from San José.
From Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR)
Drive northeast towards Liberia. Once in Liberia, continue along the same highway for about 50km (31 miles), turn left towards Junquillal, and continue for 9 km (5.5 miles) until you get to Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge.
There are no buses that get to Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge, however you can take a bus from the route San José – Liberia, which takes about 5 hours (Pulmitan, 2222-1650) and then take another bus from the route Liberia – Cuajiniquil (at González García bus terminal) which takes about 1 hour. From Cuajiniquil you can rent a car and drive or take a taxi to Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge, which takes about 15 minutes. We recommend buying the ticket the day before to save your space.
You can also take a flight from the Juan Santamaria Airport to the Daniel Oduber airport at Liberia, either with Sansa or Nature Air airlines every day. From here you can rent a car and drive or take a taxi to Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge, which takes about 1 hour.
Location: district: Santa Elena, canton: La Cruz, province: Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Zone postal code: 51004.
Bahia Junquillal Wildlife Refuge entrance GPS Coordenates: 10.965292,-85.684175 (10°57’55.05″N, 85°41’03.03″W)
GPS Coordenates: 10.968915,-85.687695 (10°58’08.09″N, 85°41’15.70″W)
Size: 505ha of land and 97ha marine (1.250 acres of land and 250 acres marine)
Altitude: sea level up to 10m (30 ft)
Schedule: from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Guanacaste Conservation Area Telephone (ACG): + (506) 2666-5051
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192