Costa Rica is one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to nature.
More than 25 percent of Costa Rica consists of national parks and nature reserves, packed with green rainforests, magnificent waterfalls, huge volcanoes and beautiful sandy beaches.
But with lots of national parks to choose from, it can be hard to decide which of Costa Rica’s national parks to visit. To help you, we’ve put together a list of seven fantastic national parks in Costa Rica here.
Monteverde is a unique area of natural beauty in north-east Costa Rica, located at an altitude of 1,400 metres. Monteverde is better known as the “forest in the clouds”, surrounded as it is by low clouds and dense mist.
The mist formation makes for a very special and mysterious atmosphere in Monteverde, which you can experience from above on a thrilling walk along hanging bridges extending between the treetops. Due to the high humidity, nature thrives in the rainforest, with moss, ferns, orchids and huge trees forming a fairytale landscape.
If you’re a birdwatcher, the area is a veritable paradise. More than 400 different bird species live here, including the hummingbird, the resplendent quetzal and the golden-browed chlorophonia.
What is the national park most famous for?: Its dense mist and the many hanging bridges in the tree tops.
Manuel Antonio might be Costa Rica’s smallest national park, but it is also the country’s most popular area of natural beauty, attracting the largest number of visitors every year. This may have something to do with the fact that Forbes Magazine named Manuel Antonio one of the 12 most beautiful national parks in the world!
The national park consists of white sandy beaches, coral reefs, waterfalls and a lush, green rainforest that extends all the way to the coast. Here, you will find amazing wildlife with some 300 different species of animals, including raccoons, sloths, monkeys and colourful birds. The animals are used to humans, so it is often possible to get right up close to them.
We also recommend visiting Manuel Antonio if you are interested in scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking, horse riding or hiking.
What is the national park most famous for?: Its beautiful sandy beaches, great sports activities and many different animal species.
Tortuguero is located in the north-east of the country and has a total of 35 kilometres of coastline. It is one of Costa Rica’s most famous national parks, where you will find everything from tropical rainforests and rivers to lagoons, long sandy beaches and mangrove forests.
Tortuguero is particularly well-known for its unique wildlife, consisting of more than 300 animal species, 30 different species of freshwater fish and four different species of sea turtles.
If you wish to see the unique green sea turtles, visit Tortuguero between July and October, when you have the greatest chance of spotting them.
What is the national park most famous for?: Its green sea turtles and unique wildlife.
If you wish to experience an unspoilt national park with fewer visitors, then the Rincon de la Vieja National Park is the one for you.
Rincon de la Vieja, located in north-west Costa Rica, offers a scenic volcanic landscape with magnificent waterfalls, tropical rainforest and unique wildlife including several different species of monkeys, lizards and tropical birds.
The main attraction of the national park is the huge active volcano Rincon de la Vieja, which consists of no fewer than nine contiguous craters.
What is the national park most famous for?: Active volcanoes and untouched nature.
Arenal Volcano National Park is located in northern Costa Rica by the country’s largest lake, Lake Arenal.
The National Park is most famous for its huge volcano, Mount Arenal, which is considered to be one of Costa Rica’s biggest attractions.
The area is also known for its many hot springs, which are heated naturally by the thermal activity in the area. Look forward to a natural wellness experience in scenic surroundings. You can also hike in the national park and experience the amazing wildlife, which consists of monkeys, toucans and other colourful bird species.
What is the national park especially well known for?: Its natural hot springs and the Mount Arenal volcano.
Corcovado National Park is located in south-western Costa Rica on the Osa Peninsula facing the Pacific Ocean.
The national park has been named as one of the most “biologically intense” places in the world by National Geographic, and you can understand why. 50% of Costa Rica’s plant and animal species live here, as well as 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity – in what is a very small area. Corcovado occupies just over 41,000 hectares, which corresponds to around 3% of Costa Rica’s total area. What’s more, Corcovado is home to the last original tropical rainforest on the Mesoamerican part of the Pacific coast.
The national park is home to one of the largest populations of the scarlet macaw in the world, but you may also see various monkey, sloths, tapirs and many, many more.
What is the national park famous for?: Great biological diversity in a very small area.
Cahuita National Park is situated right on the Caribbean coast in southern Costa Rica. A mere 27 km2 of the park is on land, while the rest of it – around 550 km2 – is a marine area.
The national park is particularly well known for its stunning coral reef, which helps protect the abundant marine life under the sea. You can come out and snorkel here and perhaps see animals such as manta rays, sea cucumbers, sharks and sea urchins. In addition, Cahuita National Park is the main area in Costa Rica where the hawksbill sea turtle builds its nest.
The rest of the park’s terrestrial area consists of tropical forest, where the fantastic wildlife can be experienced on one of the many hiking trails. You may encounter raccoons, iguanas, sloths and several different kinds of monkeys.
What is the national park famous for?: Its colourful marine life under the sea.
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