5+ Unforgettable Costa Rica Wildlife Holidays for Nature-Lovers & Naturalists

If your idea of a great vacation includes exotic animals and incredible wildlife, then you’ll want to consider Costa Rica wildlife holidays. You’ll discover several popular destinations in Costa Rica that are perfect for wildlife enthusiasts!

Get the details on 5 top tourist spots and more, below.

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn all about the best Costa Rica wildlife holidays for nature-lovers and naturalists, including: 

  • 5 Top Tourist Spots in Costa Rica
  • Where is Costa Rica?
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Arenal Volcano
  • Monteverde and the Cloud Forests
  • Diamante Eco Adventure Park
  • La Paz Waterfall Gardens
  • Other Worthwhile Destinations in Costa Rica for Nature-Lovers
  • Final Thoughts on Costa Rica Wildlife Vacations

5 Top Tourist Spots in Costa Rica

If you are after a holiday that can offer a variety of experiences, then Costa Rica holidays could be the getaway you have been dreaming of.

Here are some things you’ll find there:

  • Active volcanoes
  • Pristine beaches
  • Lush rainforest
  • Cloud forests
  • Wildlife refuges
  • National parks

A vacation in Costa Rica caters to bird-watchers, animal lovers, luxury travelers, surfers, backpackers, and many others. 

In fact, it’s home to the resplendent quetzal, a small, vibrant colored bird which depends on the cloud forest habitat. It’s estimated that there are only about 50,000 of these rare birds left in the world.

Other endangered wildlife or threatened species you may have an opportunity to see in Costa Rica are

  • Baird’s tapir, which looks a bit like a pig
  • Central American squirrel monkey
  • Great green macaw
  • Green turtle
  • Hawksbill turtle
  • Scalloped hammerhead sharks
  • and others

Of course, if you’re looking to incorporate cultural attractions (like the Gold Museum) and nightlife into Costa Rica wildlife vacations, head for the country’s capital, San Jose.

Does this sound like an experience you would enjoy? 

Then, continue reading to find out more about the best places to visit in Costa Rica.

But first, let’s make sure you know the basics about this wonderfully biodiverse, beautiful country.

Where is Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is located in Central America

It connects the northern and southern American continents. This small country in Latin America is bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.

Situated in the tropics, Costa Rica has 12 climate zones and micro-climates. This results in a diverse range of temperature, wildlife, and experiences.

With a population approaching 5 million, Costa Rica is a peaceful democratic country. It hasn’t operated an army in the past 74 years. 

Spanish is the official language here, but you’ll find English widely spoken, especially in tourist areas.

It’s also a safe place to visit.

Best time to Visit Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, the rainy season falls between May and November. Locals call it ‘winter.’

Instead, you’ll want to plan your trip to Costa Rica in the dry season. That’s from mid-December to April.

Of course, that will be the most in-demand—and usually, the most expensive—time to visit.

But even at that, Costa Rica is a relatively affordable place to visit, making it a great value.

Costa Rica’s tourist industry meets any holiday-maker’s budget, from backpacking to luxury resorts.

Just be sure to book your reservations several months in advance.

Best Destinations for Wildlife Holidays in Costa Rica

Here are five of the top attractions you must see when holidaying in Costa Rica

1. Manuel Antonio National Park

This national park is set on the edge of the township of Manuel Antonio.

Here, you’ll enjoy some of the country’s top wildlife viewing spots and beautiful soft-sand beaches.

Some of the wildlife you might see in Manuel Antonio National Park includes:

  • A wide variety of butterflies and bird species
  • Howler and squirrel monkey
  • Different species of sloths
  • White-nosed coatimundis
  • Capuchins

Even better, you get to see these animals in their natural habitat.

The town center is within walking distance of the park. There you’ll find hotels for any budget, restaurants, and retail options. 

You’ll also find the nearby sandy beaches lined with umbrellas and beach chairs.

Related: Top 5 Island Destinations for a Wildlife Vacation

2. Arenal Volcano

Discover a cone-shaped mountain with huge ash columns that stream from the crater at Arenal Volcano.

The volcano had been dormant from AD 1500 until a massive eruption on July 29, 1968. Sadly, it destroyed two villages.

Since then, the volcano has been active. 

It regularly sends out clouds of ash or glowing red lava that flows down the mountain.

Believe it or not, the park is also home to half of all Costa Rican birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.

3. Monteverde and the Cloud Forest

For ecotourism fans, this area is a “must-see.”

The clouds covering this dense forest provide the moisture necessary to sustain the area’s unique habitats. 

Monteverde and the Cloud Forest area is home to more bird species, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.

You’ll also see colorful frogs and howler monkeys. Jaguars and Pumas are more elusive. 

One good way to explore Monteverde and the Cloud Forests is to take an organized hike on the wildlife trails through the forests. 

Or, instead, try a canopy tour that may involve zip lines, bridges, and even cable cars.

4. Diamante Eco Adventure Park

At Diamante Eco Adventure Park, you can enjoy the country’s most popular zipline on the Superman Course. 

Here’s how it works:

You jump off the top of a mountain and zip down one mile towards the ocean—head first!

Maybe you prefer a slower pace at which you can learn about Costa Rican culture and biodiversity. 

Then look for the Costa Rican Cultural Experience tour.

It showcases Tico life, food, and culture. This program teaches you about the local plants that surround you, too.

Related: 5 Ways to Inspire Adventure When You Plan Your Next Great Vacation

5. La Paz Waterfall Gardens

This nature park is privately owned and covers 70 acres. La Paz Waterfall Gardens makes a home for species of monkeys, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other creatures.

Rainwater from the cloud forests created the La Paz waterfall. 

The water tumbles off a high ledge, dropping over 120 feet (37 meters) into a pool below! 

As if that weren’t enough, your admission ticket includes access to:

  • A snake enclosure
  • Butterfly observatory
  • Jungle cat exhibit
  • Frog exhibit

You’ll see so much wildlife!

Other Worthwhile Destinations in Costa Rica for Nature-Lovers

If you have time on your itinerary, you may also want to further explore these nature attractions in Costa Rica:

  • Braulio Carrillo National Park – one of the largest national parks in Costa Rica, perfect for hiking, yet very close to San José
  • Carara National Park – where you’ll find Crocodile Bridge, excellent birdwatching and rich wildlife in the tropical rainforests
  • Cocos Island – 27 coral islands you just over 340 miles (550 km) off mainland Costa Rica, reachable only by boat
  • Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast – the Limon province of Costa Rica, which covers about 124 miles (200 km) and offers some of Costa Rica’s best beaches
  • Maquenque National Park – in the north lowlands of Costa Rica, where you have the best chance of seeing green macaws
  • Osa Peninsula – perfect for remote rainforest exploration in Corcovado National Park with plenty of spider monkeys and scarlet macaws to see
  • Ostional Wildlife Refuge – an important nesting area for Olive Ridley turtles, leatherback turtles, and green sea turtles
  • Palo Verde National Park – part of the Arenal National Park with a vital floodplain, seasonal pools, and limestone ridges, and seasonal pools
  • San Gerardo de dota – a remote farming community hidden in the cloud forest
  • Tortuguero National Park – discover biodiverse habitats like beaches, lagoons, and wetlands where fresh water and the sea converge. You may also see the famous red-eyed tree frogs here!
  • Vieja National Park – home to two volcanos, waterfalls, hot springs, dart frogs, and various wildlife habitats

To see any of these beautiful wildlife attractions for yourself, you might want to schedule a Costa Rica wildlife tour.

Guided wildlife tours will give you the best chance to see the highlights of this amazing country.

So, look to a local guide or other wildlife experts to guide the way.

Final Thoughts on Costa Rica Wildlife Holidays

When you visit Costa Rica, you’ll enjoy a unique tropical climate with a wide range of distinctive natural attractions and plentiful wildlife.

With so much unspoiled territory on Costa Rica, it’s no wonder you’ll hear the term pura vida or “pure life” there. It’s truly a unique experience.

In fact, it may be hard to find a better place for your wildlife adventures than Costa Rica.

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

2 thoughts on “5+ Unforgettable Costa Rica Wildlife Holidays for Nature-Lovers & Naturalists

  • May 28, 2022 at 10:37 pm
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    Great list Jackie. I have been to 2 of these spots and also visited Nueva Arenal, in town. Costa Rica brims with wildlife. Most animals I have seen in and around towns; these guys have no fear.

    Ryan

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