Costa Rica Nature & Wildlife Vacations

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Vibrant Nature in Costa Rica

The turquoise waters of Rio Celeste surrounded by green rainforest
Costa Rica is one of the planet's most biodiverse countries, home to about five percent of all species. You read that right - that's 5% of ALL the species in the world
With one of our well-planned, well-researched Costa Rica nature vacations, you too can experience the wonders of rainforests, cloud forests, mangroves, tropical dry forests, and marine habitats. With us as your expert guide, you can learn how to experience Costa Rica's wildlife in the best way.
After all, Costa Rica is the home of the eco-tourism concept, and its nature makes travel here so unique. It's one of the main reasons wildlife and nature enthusiasts come to Costa Rica, and then want to return to see more.
At Costa Rica Vacations, we love sharing our love for the natural world that exists around us. Our in-depth personal knowledge of the country will allow you to enjoy the sustainable nature vacation of your dreams.
Get off the grid, surround yourself with singing birds and sloths, and soak yourself in the calm of a Costa Rican cloud forest. Learn how to experience and navigate Costa Rica's extensive wildlife in a safe way. 
Toucans, hummingbirds, scarlet macaws, and even quetzals are just some of the birds that nest in the country. Land animals such as sloths, jaguars, agoutis, tapirs, and peccaries make the visit exciting for kids and adults. Marine wildlife thrives on Costa Rica's coastlines, and visitors can spot sea turtles, dolphins, and even whales or stingrays in the right location. It's a matter of choosing the right place to tick off those items on your bucketlist.
Creating a Costa Rica nature vacation package doesn't have to be complicated either. All our packages are customizable! Contact us and tell us what you want to do, and we'll show you where to go and when. Take advantage of our expertise and enjoy one of the best nature vacations you'll ever experience.

Best Costa Rica Nature Vacations Destinations

There's no real "best destination" in Costa Rica for a nature vacation. 
The whole country teems with biodiversity and wildlife, even many of the cities. And when you get the opportunity to see jaguars, sloths, leatherback turtles, toucans,  four species of monkeys, coatis, and more in Costa Rica, it's truly magical. 
The trick is to know how to maximize your chances of seeing as many of these species in the wild.
There are many distinct microclimates in Costa Rica and plenty of different landscapes to experience. You'll want to know where to start, from tropical beaches to windy mountaintops, steaming jungles, and dwarf cloud forests. 
Here are some of the best places to enjoy and experience nature in Costa Rica.

The Costa Rica Cloud Forest: A Birder's Paradise

 Are you an avid birdwatcher? If so, you'll love a Costa Rican vacation. No matter where you are, you'll see all kinds of birds, from migrating species wintering from northern climes to tropical parrots and birds of prey.
There's no better place to start your birding journey than in the cloud forests of Costa Rica.
The highlands and cloud forests of Monteverde a highlight for birders. This area is home to the elusive quetzal and other 500 species of birds, such as toucanets, black guans, and collared redstars. 
There are also over 100 species of mammals and a total of 658 species of butterflies, not to mention dozens of amphibians and reptiles. All you need are stout hiking shoes, a pair of binoculars, and an expert guide to help you get the most out of Monteverde.
Another excellent bird-watching area is San Gerardo de Dota in the Talamanca mountains, south of San Jose. These are the highest mountains in Costa Rica and another prime spot to seek out the elusive quetzal. It's a tranquil place, ideal to get off the beaten path to observe birds and expansive forestry.
Both these areas are easy to reach, but the rest of your itinerary will determine which one would work best for you. 

The Osa Peninsula and Southern Pacific Zone

Howler monkey hiding on a tree
The most famous destination for nature lovers coming to Costa Rica is Corcovado National Park. You'll find Costa Rica's biggest national park to the south, in the Osa Peninsula. With over 42,000 hectares of protected jungle, it's a natural haven for the diverse wildlife in the area.
According to National Geographic, Corcovado boasts the highest biodiversity rate in Costa Rica. This park is also home to 5% of the world's biodiversity. There are many nature trails here that let you explore all it has, ranging from nature walks for beginners to real challenges for hardcore hikers.
The whole park is brimming with wildlife. Here, the forest is pristine and secluded, often untouched by humans. Instead, you'll be in the company of macaws, monkeys, sloths, snakes, and iguanas. You may even run into tapirs, pumas, or jaguars, as the rainforest is perfect for enjoying an authentic off-the-grid wildlife experience.
The Osa Peninsula is where you'll find some of the best nature lodges in Costa Rica - or even the world. The vibe is upscale and luxurious, still keeping up a sustainable way of life deep in the rainforest.
While the Osa Peninsula is remote and not easy to get to, travelers seeking an authentic wildlife vacation know it's worth it. Often you need both an internal flight and a boat trip to reach it, but the sheer physical natural beauty and biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula are unmissable for nature lovers.

Sea Turtles and the Caribbean Coast

 Costa Rica's Caribbean side is less-visited than the Pacific and not as popular a tourism spot. But, for nature lovers, that's a good thing - fewer people means more wildlife. And the lowlands of the Caribbean side offer incredible opportunities for it.
The Tortuguero National Park and the Caño Negro Reserve are two great locations for wildlife lovers. Tortuguero is famous for its turtle nesting sites and dense jungles, where turtle eggs are so fiercely protected no one can visit the nests without an approved nature guide. Caño Negro borders Nicaragua, and the wetlands here support a massive birdlife. A boat trip always provides good sightings for birders in seek of seasonal and resident species.
Tortuguero is also somewhat unique in Costa Rica in that this whole vast area is accessible only by plane or boat, through a network of rivers and canals. There are no roads here. The boat ride to Tortuguero gives nature enthusiasts a chance to see wildlife before even arriving, including river otters, howler monkeys, basilisks, and more. Getting to Tortuguero is part of the adventure.
Once there, many tourists rent kayaks to explore and look for birds, turtles, and even crocodiles. Take an expert guide with you to enhance your chances of seeing something. Most of the ecolodges in Tortuguero offer tours. Adding Tortuguero to your vacation allows you to entirely disconnect from the outside world and immerse yourself in pure nature.

The Magic of Manuel Antonio

Sloth hanging from a tree
Manuel Antonio is one of the smallest national parks in Costa Rica, but its sheer physical beauty and stunning beaches make it one of the most visited.
Despite its size and amount of tourists hiking the park, Manuel Antonio is still important for wildlife spotting. This park often provides travelers with their first up-close experience of monkeys in the wild.
Manuel Antonio is a top choice for family-friendly nature vacations in Costa Rica. The beaches are sublime, the rainforest and mangrove trails are easy, and aside from the different species of monkeys here, your kids will love seeing sloths, toucans, macaws, coatis, snakes, frogs, giant iguanas, and other exciting animals.
The destinations listed above are some of the highlights in any Costa Rica nature vacation. But there are more - Guanacaste, the Nicoya Peninsula, the Arenal Volcano area are other great spots to enjoy nature in Costa Rica.
Now let's discuss the types of hotels to enhance your wildlife experience:

Advantages of Sustainable and Secluded Spots

Going for a smaller, boutique hotel rather than a large resort is one of the best ways to experience nature in Costa Rica. 
A smaller hotel is more in touch with its surroundings, providing more contact with the ecosystem and natural heritage around them. In addition, most feature great eco-sustainable programs to highlight both nature and adventure.
These hotels also help their communities, hiring local staff, sourcing local food, and using local businesses and craftspeople. Many are family-run hotels. Staying in smaller places enhances your contact with nature. It also provides an opportunity to see Costa Rica from the eyes of those who have loved it their whole lives.

Costa Rica’s Sustainability Practices

Nature is serious business in Costa Rica, with around 25% of its territory protected by law in one way or another. Costa Rica's progressive environmental policies are also famous worldwide. This tiny country is a world leader in environmental and sustainability practices.
One such practice is Costa Rica's Certificate of Sustainability initiative. This program rates hotels according to their commitment to the environment around them. A CST certification is a badge of honor for many Costa Rican hotels eager to participate.
Staying at a CST-rated hotel means you can rest assured that you're helping Costa Rica help the environment.

FAQs About Costa Rica Nature & Wildlife Vacations


What nature can you see in Costa Rica? 

Costa Rica is a tropical country comprising rainforest, cloud forest, dry forest, and more. All these habitats are home to many mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects, plants, and more.

Does Costa Rica have mountains and beaches? 

Yes, Costa Rica has beaches on both Pacific and Caribbean coasts and plenty of mountain ranges between each coast.

Is Costa Rica known for nature? 

Yes, Costa Rica is famous as a nature destination.

What are some natural things in Costa Rica? 

Natural features of Costa Rica include rainforests, wetlands, mangroves, beaches, cloud forests, and volcanoes.

What is the most beautiful part of Costa Rica? 

To answer this question is impossible, as Costa Rica is the most beautiful country globally. Let's say all of it!

What makes Costa Rica's nature unique? 

It's not so much that Costa Rica's nature is unusual - most of the nature here exists elsewhere in Central America. It's more that Costa Rica has so much protected land and so many national parks that it's a better steward of its nature than other countries, making the wildlife in Costa Rica more accessible than elsewhere rather than unique.


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