The Best Birdwatching Spots in Costa Rica

Green honeycreeper
Green honeycreeper | © Andy Morffew/Flickr
Jenn Parker

Costa Rica is a bird-lover’s paradise: around 800 different bird species can be found here, and there are even a few species that can be found nowhere else in the world. Birdwatchers from all over the world are drawn to this little avian utopia. While you are guaranteed to see an impressive variety of birds regardless of where you are in Costa Rica, there are some bird hotspots that offer the best opportunities to see some of the most magnificent feathered beauties.

Santa Juana

The Santa Juana Lodge offers an amazing birdwatching tour through Cloudmaker Nature Reserve and the surrounding area of Santa Juana. There are 150 different species that call this Central Pacific mountain region home. Bird species such as the red-capped manakin, caracara, purple gallinule, black mandible toucan, fiery-billed aracari, wood stork, king vulture, and southern lapwing are commonly found in this wet forest. During the peak migration season, more than 250 different species of bird can be spotted here.

The red-capped manakin

Piedras Blancas

Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge

The Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is an ideal aquatic birdwatching destination. Between Rio Frio and Cano Negro Lake, there are great populations of aquatic birds, such as the lovely roseate spoonbill and a variety of egrets and herons. During the dry season, starting in December, millions of birds migrate here to spend the winter months in this tropical wetland. A boat tour is the best way to experience the rich wetland wildlife of this refuge.

Pretty in pink

Palo Verde National Park

Palo Verde National Park is another bird- and wildlife-rich protected wetland.There are 232 different species of bird in this unique habitat, including the black-bellied whistling duck, glossy ibis, osprey, crane hawk, tiger heron, wood stork, and jabirus. One of the best ways to experience this incredible national park and the abundance of aquatic and terrestrial bird species is by taking a guided boat tour. Tours are led by expert naturalists, who will help you see as many birds as possible.

Jabiru couple

Los Quetzales National Park

Located high up in the Talamanca Mountains, Los Quetzales National Park is a cloud forest teeming with life. Moss grows on almost every surface, the air is refreshingly cool, and there is a good chance of spotting one of Costa Rica’s most exquisite birds, the resplendent quetzal. Trekking around this terrain is quite mystical. The air is cool and filled with a symphony of calls from birds and other wildlife, and giant hardwoods are abundant.

The mystical quetzal

Rancho Naturalista

Rancho Naturalista is one of the premier birding lodges in all of Central America. Over 450 species have been recorded on the private nature reserve and in the surrounding areas. There are hiking trails all around the reserve that you can use to venture off on your own self-guided bird watching adventure, or you can set out with a highly experienced bird naturalist and guide. The Tapanti National Park is also nearby, which is another splendid area to have a birdwatching adventure.

There are hummingbirds everywhere

1. La Selva Biological Station

Forest

La Selve Biological Station is located just south of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. It is a research and education center, biological reserve, and birding hotspot. Over 450 species have been spotted in this tropical rainforest. There are hiking paths and walkways through the forest that you can explore on your own or with an experienced naturalist and guide. This biological dense reserve is an amazing place to spot all sorts of native wildlife species.

Aviarios del Caribe

Aviarios del Caribe is a privately owned wildlife refuge on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It is located in the Estrella River delta and is home to 225 species of birds. It is also a refuge for sloths, otters, turtles, and caimans. There are multiple different types of tour that you can take through this bird-filled refuge, but one of the best is via kayak. This area in general is a haven for lovers of nature and animals, as the Hitoy-Cerere Biological Reserve, Selva Bananito, and World of Orchids are all very close by. Aviarios del Caribe is also where the famous Sloth Sanctuary is located.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

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.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article