Carara National Park
Carara National Park at a Glance
- Transitional Tropical Dry and Rain Forest
- Wildlife watching
- Rainforest hikes
- Crocodile Tours
- Tarcoles River
Region: Central Pacific
Closest Town: 15 miles to Jaco
Altitude: 30 to 500 ft (10 – 180m)
Closest Airports: San Jose (SJO)
Average Temperature: 75° – 87° F (23° – 30° C)
Carara National Park sits near the Costa Rican Pacific coast, in the Central Pacific Conservation Area. Carara lies just about 30 miles west (about an hour) of San José and is home to one of the largest populations of wild Scarlet Macaws in the country, which usually greet you as you drive on the highway. The park is predominantly formed by primary rainforest, which makes it ideal for birds who nest in the dense trees.
Some of the most appealing bird species in Carara are woodpeckers, hummingbirds, antbirds and manakins. Other notable animals include crocodiles (which can be seen up close on guided boat tours), agouti, kinkajous and the rare white-tailed deer. Carara National Park offers much more natural diversity than the slightly more famous Manuel Antonio National Park. The park was founded in 1978 and has remained one of the most popular spots in the country for more than three decades.
Best Time to Visit
Dry season, running from December to April. Arrive early in the morning, as birds are most active around sunrise and sundown.
Services & Infrastructure
Public transportation: Yes, regular bus from San Jose to Jaco will drop you off here.
Public restrooms: There are restrooms and picnic tables available at Quebrada Bonita visitor’s center
Shopping: There are art & craft stores stands with great choice of souvenirs just next to Tracoles bridge.
Gas stations: The nearest gaststation is in playa Herradure, 10 miles to the coast
Cell Phone Reception: Reliable
Restaurants: Excellent range of choices further down the road, in Jaco
Nearest medical facilities: Jaco has quite a few private clinics & pharamaces, as well as a public hospital.
How To Get There
Carara National Park is roughly an hour and a half drive from San Jose. Take Route 27 for 35 miles toward Orotina. Three miles past Orotina, turn right on Route 34, the coastal highway toward Jaco. Continue for 11 miles over the Tarcoles River bridge. The Carara National Park entrance is half a mile farther south, on your left.