The Portalon Wildlife Refuge was created on May 27th 1996 to protect tropical forest areas on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The Refuge is located right in between the Manuel Antonio National Park and Marino Ballena National Park. Only 25 minutes from Manuel Antonio/Quepos airport or 25 minutes from Dominical beach and just 10 minutes from the most beautiful beach in the southern zone, the Matapalo beach.
The refuge consists of a beach, with remains of forest in the mountains parallel to the coast and a mangrove that joins the extensive mangrove forest located at the mouth of the Savegre River. In the wetland you can see big trees such as the Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), reaching up to 40m high, and this is a spot often visited by the Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja) and Chocuaco or Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius). The beach is a nesting place for the Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) and the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea). There are no public park facilities at the Portalon national wildlife refuge, although, the Costanera Sur highway passes through the refuge.
Getting to Portalon National Wildlife Refuge:
From San Jose take the Pan-American Highway north passing through Atenas up to Orotina. Take the Tárcoles/Jaco/Quepos/Manuel Antonio exit. Once in Quepos follow the signs that say airport and Dominical. The road becomes a dirt road. Follow this road for about 20 kilometers. You will pass several small villages and across the Savegre River. After crossing the river you will pass through the village of Pasito just before getting to Portalon.
You can also take the new Caldera Highway (route 27), taking the same exit to Tárcoles/Jaco/Quepos/Manuel Antonio and following the same directions until you get to Portalon National Wildlife Refuge. The Caldera trip takes about 3 hours from San Jose while the other takes about 4.5 hours.
There is another route from San Jose through the Cerro de la Muerte. Drive south on Pan-American Highway for some 135 km (81 miles) to San Isidro. Continue 37Km on a winding, mountainous road to an intersection where you meet the coastal highway. Take the exit to your right onto the coastal highway heading towards Quepos until you get to Portalon National Wildlife Refuge. The whole journey takes between 4 and 5 hours.
From Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR), drive south on the Pan-American Highway to Puntarenas. From there, take the new Caldera Highway (route 27) and take the exit to Tarcoles/Jaco/Quepos/Manuel Antonio. Once in Quepos follow the signs that say airport and Dominical. The road becomes a dirt road. Follow this road for about 20 kilometers. You will pass several small villages and across the Savegre River. After crossing the river you will pass through the village of Pasito just before getting to Portalon.
Take a bus from the route San Jose/Quepos/Manuel Antonio – Ballena National Marine Park, which takes about 4 hours (Transportes Morales, 2223-5567). Get off on Portalon and then go to Portalon National Wildlife Refuge, which can take about 5 minutes.
You can also take a bus from the route San Jose – San Isidro de El General, which takes about 4 hours, (MUSOC, 2222-2422) and then take another bus San Isidro de El General – Quepos, which takes about 1.5 hours, (Transportes Blanco, 2771-4744). Get off on Portalon and then go to Portalon National Wildlife Refuge, which can take about 5 minutes.
You can also take a flight from the Juan Santamaria Airport to Quepos Airport, either with Sansa or Nature Air airlines, both with daily flights. From here you can rent a taxi to Portalon National Wildlife Refuge, which takes about 20 minutes.
Location: Pacific coast, 20km (13 miles) south from Manuel Antonio National Park, district: Savegre, canton: Aguirre, in Puntarenas province.
Portalon GPS Coordinates: 9.354331,-83.979956 (9°21’15.59″N, 83°58’47.84″W)
Size: 408 ha (1,025 acres)
Central Pacific Conservation Area (ACOPAC) Telephone: +(506) 2416-7878
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192