National parks, wildlife refuges, and biological reserves are found throughout the country. They range from swampy wetlands to dry-forest environments, and from lowland rainforests to high-mountain cloud forests.
Sign up for guided natural-history excursions or hire a local naturalist guide. You’ll see many times more critters in the company of an eagle-eyed guide.
Barra de Matina/Parismina : Leatherbacks, greens, and hawksbills come ashore at this private sanctuary.
Corcovado National Park : This remote and dense rainforest is one place you may be able to spot tapirs and jaguars, and scarlet macaws are a dime a dozen.
Curú National Wildlife Refuge : Three species of turtles come ashore at this private refuge.
Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge : Turtle lovers are sure to spot leatherbacks (Apr.–May), greens (July–Sept.), and hawksbills (Mar.–Aug.).
Jungle Safari on the Tárcoles River : Guaranteed close-up sightings of giant crocodiles.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens : This splendid park has a fabulous aviary plus snake, butterfly, hummingbird, and frog exhibits.
Manuel Antonio National Park : This popular park offers easy wildlife-viewing from wide-open trails.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve : Monteverde draws bird-watchers keen to spot a quetzal.
Ostional National Wildlife Refuge : This 248-hectare refuge protects the major nesting site of olive ridleys.
Palo Verde National Park : This national park is known for its vast flocks of waterfowl and migratory birds.
Playa Camaronal : Olive ridleys nest year-round and leatherbacks nest March and April.
Los Quetzals National Park : Your chances of seeing quetzals are vastly improved at this national park.
Tortuguero National Park : This is my favorite place for wildlife-viewing. You may see river otters, caimans, and even manatees. Turtle-viewing at night is icing on the cake.