Costa Rica offers plenty of National Parks all with different ecosystems, flora and fauna. The biodiversity this destination concentrates within such a small land mass is unique. Birdwatching offers over 800 species of birds to see and park wildlife includes staple icons such as: toucans, sloths, tapirs, a variety of monkeys and occasional big cats among others. The following are the country’s most popular National Parks:
Tortuguero National Park
(Caribbean Coast) is humid and hot! Jungle lodges abound. This area is known as the “Amazon of Costa Rica” because it resembles Peru and Brazil’s Amazon area and its lodging alternatives. The park is named after its main attraction – Turtles – and it provides spectacles to observe this creatures for a large portion of the year. The Cahuita National Park has the largest system of coral reefs in the country. Fishing is also very popular providing a great activity alternative year round.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
(inland on the Northern zone of the country) is a paradise for nature lovers and birdwatchers, this destination has developed into a perfect adventure/nature combination. Rainy most of the year, you can find yourself zip lining through dense canopies within a relatively short distance from San Jose.
Rincon de la Vieja National Park
(inland on the Northern Zone of the country 45’ from Liberia airport) offers a fantastic nature alternative for those visiting the Guanacaste beaches and seeking to visit as much as possible within a short period of time. An “off the beaten path” volcano experience, lately Rincon de la Vieja has become a great alternative for those who do not wish to stay in Arenal.
Marino Las Baulas National Park
(along the North Pacific coast) is where we find Playa Grande and the turtle hatching coastline. With its proximity to the Guanacaste Beaches it is a great nature addition to those flying in to Liberia airport for a quick 3 or 4 day getaway.
The Manuel Antonio National Park
(on the Central Pacific coastline) The smallest national park in Costa Rica packs the biggest bang for your buck. The location of this small park makes it one of the most sought after during traveler visits to Costa Rica. Manuel Antonio has been listed in the book “1000 Places to See Before You Die” and it’s no wonder. The park is the home to sloths, monkeys, marmots, iguanas, snakes, dolphins, numerous varieties of birds amongst others.
Corcovado National Park
(on the South Pacific coast) is considered a must-see for nature experts. If you are a nature lover, it does not get any better than this. Be prepared to be blown away by what National Geographic has called it "the most biologically intense place on Earth".
When to see turtles or whales and dolphins?
November to April: you can see the Leatherbacks at Playa Grande and Playa Langosta in the Marino Las Baulas National Park.
July to December: Ostional National Park for the Leatherbacks and the Olive Ridley turtles.
June to October: observe the Hawsbill Sea Turtles a the Corcovado National Park. Caribbean:
July to September: you can see Green Sea Turtles, Loggerheads and Leatherbacks.
Marine Wildlife is another nature lovers’ activity. The best area to do this is the South Pacific Coast followed by the Caribbean. Dolphin and Whale watching tours (including sightings of Killer Whales) provide optimum results between July and December.