Costa Rica is home to over 20 national parks and several other wildlife refuges. Because Costa Rica has several different micro climates throughout the country each national park has a completely different feel.
If you would like a real adventure experience you should look in to hiking at the Chirripo National Park. Chirripo is the highest mountain in Costa Rica with a peak of 12,530 feet (3,820 meters) above sea level.
You can find out more about completing this hike on the official Chirripo website.
The Pacific coast of Costa Rica is home to many amazing national parks and refuges. Here are a few of the highlights...
– Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is the most popular national park in Costa Rica due to its beautiful white sand beaches, abundance of animals, and easy walkability. Find out more with our Manuel Antonio National Park guide.
– Marino Ballena National Park
Marino Ballena is located in the cute seaside town of Uvita. You can see whales here, go snorkeling, take a kayak tour, and more! Find out how to plan a visit with our Marino Ballena National Park guide.
– Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is located on the Osa Peninsula at the very tip of Costa Rica before Panama. This national park needs to be explored with a guide. It is possible to visit as a day trip or to spend one or two nights in the national park. Find out more with our Corcovado National Park guide.
– Curu Refuge
Curu Refuge is not frequently visited by tourists, but we think it is worth a visit. There are hiking trails for all levels here as well as bioluminescent kayaking, snorkeling, island day trips, and more! Find out how to visit with our Curu Refuge guide.
– Cabo Blanco Reserve
Cabo Blanco Reserve is located between Montezuma and Santa Teresa. The hike here can be intense depending on the weather, but you will be rewarded with a beautiful beach. Plan your visit with our Cabo Blanco guide.
– Carara National Park
Carara National Park is located just before the beach town, Jaco. If you are interested in bird watching this is a great place for it. You can find out more in our Carara National Park guide.
In Monteverde you can hike at the Santa Elena Reserve and in San Gerardo de Dota you can explore the Quetzal National Park.
The Caribbean coast is home to far fewer national parks that the Pacific coast, but that doesn’t mean that the limited amount of national parks aren’t absolutely amazing.
The best thing to do in Tortuguero National Park is to take an early morning guided canoe ride through the river channels. This is a great way to see lots of wildlife including birds, monkeys, caymans, and more!
In the fall you can also see sea turtles here laying eggs in their natural habitat. It’s really cool!
Find out how to plan your visit with our Tortuguero National Park guide.
Cahuita National Park is filled with wildlife. We have seen sloths, vipers, blue crabs, monkeys, and more here.
This is our favorite national park in Costa Rica for the variety of flaura and fauna.
Find out how to plan your visit with our Cahuita National Park guide.
For a completely unique experience head to Rio Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park. This national park is located in the northern part of the country about 1.5 hours from La Fortuna.
Here, you can hike along a naturally bright blue river which is home to this amazing waterfall.
This hike is best done during the dry season when the paths are less muddy and the water is at its bluest.
Check our our Rio Celeste guide to learn what gives the water this bright blue color & for trip planning tips.
Did you know that there are 5 active volcanos in Costa Rica and many other (close to 100) non active volcanic formations in the country? One of our favorite things to experience in Costa Rica is a volcanic visit. There are a few volcanoes in the country which have been turned into national parks. Here are our favorites…..
Irazu volcano is located near San Jose on the outskirts of Cartago. It is possible to drive to the top of this volcano and enjoy the view. On clear days you can even see nearby Turrialba volcano erupting.
For more info check out the Irazu National Park guide.
Arenal is the perfect volcano from a visual standpoint. At the Arenal National Park you can enjoy several trail options.
Personally, our favorite way to enjoy the volcano is by viewing it while sitting in a hot spring.
You can find out more on the official Arenal National Park site.
Poas Volcano used to be the most visited national park in the country, but in recent years there have been off and on eruptions. Currently, the volcano is open for visitors once again.
Plan your visit with our Poas Volcano guide.
It can be difficult to determine the best clothes for hiking in Costa Rica.
If you will be deep in the jungle it is always best to wear long pants. There are some critters here that you don’t want to get too close to.
If you will be on well maintained trails we always wear sport clothes that dry quickly and are very breathable (the sun and humidity here are no joke).
One of the main draws of Costa Rica is the incredible diverse amount of wildlife. We have seen sloths, vipers, monkeys, tarantulas, and more!
Don’t forget your binoculars and camera at home! You’ll definitely want them.
Check out our 12 favorite places to see wildlife in Costa Rica for some tips.
At almost every national park in Costa Rica you will see locals outside of the park offering their services as a guide. These guides are not cheap, but we have actually never had a bad experience.
The guides know where to spot wildlife and they almost always carry a telescope so you can get a close up view of the wildlife.
If you really want to see a lot of animals we think it is worth it to hire a guide. If you want to save some money and want a more fast paced hike, you are better off without a guide.
We hope this helped with planning your visit to the national parks in Costa Rica. If you have any questions please leave them in the comment section below. We are happy to help you out!
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