Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge


Opposite the turnoff to Oro Verde, a few kilometers before Uvita, is this 506-hectare national wildlife refuge (and former cattle ranch), with primary and secondary forests and mangroves lining the Río Morete. Here you can go on guided nature hikes and birdwatching walks, horseback-ride to Punta Uvita or opt for the 'cowboy experience', which involves cattle roping, herding cows and riding around with real cowboys.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Uvita attractions

1. Reserva Biológica Oro Verde

1.28 MILES

A few kilometers before Uvita is a signed turnoff to the left. A rough dirt road (4WD only) leads 3.5km up the hill to this private reserve on the farm of…

2. Farmers Market

1.51 MILES

Held a short distance from the main entrance to Uvita, along the unpaved road, this sweet little farmers market on Saturdays is a good place to mingle…

3. Cascada Verde

2.01 MILES

Around 2.5km inland and uphill (toward Cascada Verde hostel), this waterfall plunges into an inviting deep pool, perfect for a refreshing dip. Visitors…

4. Parque Nacional Marino Ballena

2.05 MILES

Famous for its wide, 4km-long beach, part of which is shaped like whale's tail at low tide, this small but important marine park protects coral and rock…

5. Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

5.08 MILES

Around 1.5km east and uphill from Dominical, this wildlife sanctuary takes in injured and orphaned animals as well as illegal pets. Its mission is to…

6. Playa Dominicalito

6.64 MILES

Three kilometers south of Dominical, this sheltered bay is favored by beginners when the surf is big in Dominical. Surf schools from Dominical frequently…

7. Cataratas Nauyaca

7.44 MILES

Owned and operated by a Costa Rican family, this center is home to the coast's most impressive waterfalls. Two falls cascade through a protected reserve…

8. Parque Reptilandia

8.12 MILES

Near the entrance to Nauyaca Waterfall, this weathered reptile park sits on an acre of land and is a mini–Jurassic Park. It's got everything from…