Isla Chora, a picturesque island popular with kayakers and snorkelers, is located just off of Punta Indio at the southern end of Samara Beach. The island and surrounding watershed was designated a National Wildlife Refuge in 2002 in order to protect and develop a sustainable ecotourism zone.
It encompasses approximately 49,000 square meters (12 acres). A recent survey, conducted on behalf of the the Tempisque Conservation Area, documented a diverse population of flora and fauna, including 18 plant species, 12 species of birds, raccoons (the only mammal ), 26 species of fish, 14 corals, 12 types of mollusk, 6 crustaceans, as well as starfish, urchins, and other creatures.
Dorian Mendez Guevara, coordinator of tourism for the Tempisque Conservation Area, co-manages the refuge with Yeimy Cedeño Solis. The mission is to promote ecosystem-based adaptation to ensure the sustainable conservation of the Isla Chora National Wildlife Refuge through environmental education, ecotourism, and other alliances.
According to Dorian Mendez, first phase of development was to perform the survey of wildlife. He says, “Actually, Isla Chora National Wildlife Refuge is in a process focused on sustainable development. We are trying to integrate communities, tour operators, and other stakeholders in this process to conform a collaborative system of management.”
The current phase of the process includes ongoing meetings held in Samara to encourage participation in the program by local tourism entrepreneurs in order to develop best practices, including environmental education for guides, and to develop signage to help educate visitors and protect the environment.
Current permitted activities within the refuge include research, environmental education, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking and observation of wildlife. Others, such as bonfires, camping extraction of any material and constructions are prohibited.