Costa Rica is an animal lover’s utopia – around five percent of the world’s biodiversity is found here. It’s a birding hotspot, plus there are 25 types of dolphins and whales off its shores. It’s also home to 18 percent of the world’s butterfly species and it’s teeming with all sorts of fascinating mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Itching to explore? Here are the best spots to glimpse bugs, beasts and birds in Costa Rica.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is relatively small compared to some of the more famous national parks in Costa Rica, but offers some of the most frequent wildlife sightings. It’s formed of primary and secondary forests, mangrove swamps, lagoons and coastal habitats. And there are more than 100 types of mammal and nearly 200 bird species that live here.
Corcovado National Park
Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park is a rather remote park on the Caribbean coast; you can only access it by taking a small plane or boat. The remoteness has helped make it an exquisite place to see a variety of wildlife – it’s Costa Rica’s answer to the Amazon rainforest. The beaches here are especially important to all four native sea turtle species, which come here to nest every year.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is home to 2.5 percent of the world’s biodiversity. It’s a particularly exciting place for all bird lovers, who will delight in taking the chance to spot the rare resplendent quetzal hiding among the trees. You can visit with Culture Trip by joining our epic nine-day small-group Costa Rica trip, led by our local insider.
Palo Verde National Park
Palo Verde National Park in Guanacaste consists of tropical dry forest and wetlands, with the Tempisque River running through it. A guided boat tour is the best way to explore this wildlife-rich area. Iguanas, monkeys, crocodiles and an impressive variety of birds are the most common sightings here.
Santa Rosa National Park
Santa Rosa National Park, in the northern part of Guanacaste province, includes protected marine and terrestrial spaces. The land is primarily tropical dry forest, while the waters are home to dolphins, whales, rays, sea turtles, tropical fish, sharks and sea birds. The park is also home to the elusive jaguar, ocelot and mountain lion, as well as an important sea turtle nesting site. Small mammals such as peccaries, coatis and monkeys are common sightings here, too.
Marino Ballena National Park
Marino Ballena National Park in Uvita is known for having a large population of humpback whales. Dolphins, sea turtles and seabirds are also inhabitants of this protected marine area. Wildlife sightings are frequent above and below the surface. There is excellent diving, amazing whale watching tours and beautiful beaches to explore here.
La Amistad International Peace Park
La Amistad International Peace Park is shared between Costa Rica and Panama. It’s the largest protected area in Costa Rica and one of the lesser-visited national parks. All six species of native wildcat, more than 600 bird types, 300 amphibian and reptile species, plus a great variety of mammals and insects call it home. To access the park, you must hike in – quite a commitment, but worth it.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.