The Mermaid of Esterillos and Its Cultural and Symbolic Meaning

    From the experience, the idea of creation, the passage of time, the restorations and the social meaning, the essence and the impact on tourism, you will learn everything here in a different way about the Sirena de Esterillos de Costa Rica...

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    To visit Esterillos Oeste beach is to appreciate without a doubt a phenomenal landscape, full of the colors of the sky reflected in the immense sea, as well as an imposing woman seated on a base of rocks, with her long and particular mermaid tail and wavy hair, her eyes looking towards the ocean, which when its level rises, she seems to hide herself.

    The woman is called Sirena de Esterillos, a sculpture cast in bronze more than 40 years ago by the Puriscaleño Albino Valverde. The ideal is that people who wish to see this work, go when the tide is low so that they can approach and appreciate its details.

    The Mermaid has become the sculpture of reference in the area for local, national, and international visitors, so much so that any tourist in Esterillos cannot resist taking a close-up picture of it.

    Why or by whom did the idea of elaborating the mermaid work come up?

    In 1957, Mr. Fernando Mora, already settled in the area of Esterillos, went to sea to fish for lobsters, an action that led him to have a fleeting encounter with a mermaid and such was his impression that years later he decided to do something unique.

      Don Fernando said that he heard something behind him, and when he turned around he found “a big woman” coming at him, so he decided to get out of the water and run away, then she simply left. 

    Mora remained with the restlessness, fascinated by what happened, he wanted to buy those properties to build a mermaid later. He spoke with the man who was selling them, who asked him if he had money, and Don Fernando answered that he had 15,000 colones, receiving feedback, that to get the person in charge out of there, he had to give him 5,500 colones for the 42 hectares (for that time it was a lot of money, with which he could do anything). The owner of the hectares said that he had never seen that before! and, indeed, Don Fernando paid.

    Shortly thereafter, in collaboration with the artist Don Albino Valverde, he fulfilled his purpose, the Sirena de Esterillos, named by him as La Hermosura (The Beauty). At present, Don Fernando is still determined to preserve it in time.

    In itself, the appearance of the mermaid is known as a local legend that remains a mystery to many. The sculpture is a reminder of the magic and mystery of the ocean, especially in Costa Rica.

    Details of the area

    In addition to its aesthetic beauty, the Esterillos Mermaid also has cultural and symbolic significance. The mermaid represents the connection to the ocean and marine life, so important to the coastal region of Costa Rica.

    It is an artistic piece that hides among the waves, making it one of the most visited beaches in the canton of Parrita in the province of Puntarenas, between Bejuco Beach and Hermosa Beach

    Esterillos Beach belongs to the Central Pacific of Costa Rica, about 124 kilometers from the city of San Jose, and is characterized by its gray sand and strong waves, so the surfers are never lacking.

    On the sides of the tico beach, small streams are formed which are also part of the wonders of Esterillos, in addition to the fauna comprised of birds, tropical forest, palms, and almond trees.

    There are three sections: Esterillos East, Center, and West, in the last one is located in the sculpture of the mermaid.

    Restoration of the Mermaid

      In August of this year 2023, the sculpture of the Mermaid of Esterillos, located 250 meters offshore from the beach, was detached from its base, due to the incredible force of the tide.

    Immediately, the creator of the sculpture, Mr. Fernando Mora, coordinated with the private company, the local authorities, and the neighbors of Parrita to recover the Mermaid, which became an important artistic piece within tourism.

    Fernando’s son, with an excavator, managed to take it to the mainland so that it could be restored.

    Indeed, it was restored, filled with courage and love by all, including its main sculptor Albino Valverde.

    Now, we wanted to investigate which other countries have mermaid sculptures on their beaches, and to mention a few we have:

    • Denmark: The famous Little Mermaid statue is located in Copenhagen. This iconic sculpture is one of the city’s main tourist attractions.

    • United States: In the state of Florida, in the city of Key West, there is a sculpture known as “The Siren of the Conch Republic”.

     This statue is a representation of a mermaid sitting on a rock and is popular among visitors to the island.

    • Spain: In the city of Barcelona, specifically on the Barceloneta beach, there is a sculpture called “Sirena Varada” (beached mermaid), made by the Spanish artist Josép Cañas. This work represents a mermaid stranded on the beach and has become a recognizable symbol of the city.

    • Puerto Rico: On the island of Culebra, there is a sculpture on Flamenco Beach called “La Ventana al Mar” (Window to the Sea). This sculpture depicts a mermaid emerging from the water and is a popular attraction for visitors to the beach.

    Of course, Costa Rica is another of the countries that has a sculpture of Sirena, on the beach of Esterillos Oeste, which has that sense of belonging, of mystery, of the fascinating story of Don Fernando, that although some people doubt, others, more tourists or not, are captivated and keep the memories in photographs, even in videos.

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