Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you click on a product or service link and make a purchase, Costa Rica Vibes may earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you and helps us to keep running this website. Thank you for your support!
Have you ever seen a sloth in real life? If not, I promise you they are as cute, unique, and fascinating as you imagine. Sloths in Costa Rica can be spotted all over the country in the wild as well as at wildlife rescue centers.
We created this guide to give you all the info your need in order to guarantee you see at least one sloth during your travel in Costa Rica.
Plus, we included tons of sloth pictures….because who doesn’t love sloth pics?!?!
Types of Sloths in Costa Rica
There are two types of sloths. These are the two-toed and three-toed sloths. In Costa Rica, you can find two species of sloths. These are Hoffman’s two-toed sloths and the Brown-throated sloth (a three-toed sloth).
Hoffman’s Two-Toed Sloths
These sloths have two toes on their front feet and three toes on their back feet. They are nocturnal, so if you see them they will most likely be sleeping.
This three-toed sloth is the most common sloth in the world. They are much more active than the Hoffman’s two-toed (but still fairly inactive in comparison with most other animals).
They are not nocturnal, so you might get lucky and see them moving about. However, they typically sleep between 15 and 18 hours per day.
As an adult, they typically weigh between five and 14 pounds.
Fun Costa Rica Sloth Facts
– Sloths have a life span of about 30 years old in the wild
– Sloths typically make their way to the ground once a week to defecate
– Baby sloths are born with full long claws
– The fur of a sloth provides an entire ecosystem for various bugs, fungai, and algae. The sloth we took a picture of above is helping to grow some serious algae or moss!
– They eat leaves, branches, and some insects. The cecropia tree leaves are their favorite. so, look for them in those trees.
– It takes them almost two weeks to digest one meal
Best Places to See Sloths in Costa Rica
You can usually see sloths anywhere in the country if you look hard enough. However, you will have the best luck the further south you get, due to a higher concentration of them.
A few of our favorite spots for spotting these cute creatures are.
We have seen a sloth chilling in the trees on Playa Negra here a few times. And it is usually close to the ground and happy to pose for photos.
Also, you will likely see sloths in the Cahuita National Park. If you want to guarantee that you will see them, hire a guide.
The Manuel Antonio National Park is a great place to see TONS of wildlife including sloths. They are typically high up in the trees relaxing.
You can just show up at the park and hire a guide, but if you would like a tour with transportation we highly suggest an all inclusive tour with Manuel.
Corcovado National Park is located in a remote area of Costa Rica called the Osa Peninsula. To visit this park you need to enter with a certified naturalist guide.
Travel Tip: We suggest bringing a pair of pocket binoculars with you on your trip to Costa Rica. They take up almost no space in your suitcase and are great for spotting hard-to-see wildlife.
Although these are the places we have seen the most sloths, it doesn’t mean you won’t see one in other parts of the country.
The problem is that usually, they are so high up in the trees and so inactive that you won’t even spot them. They just look like little furry dots in the trees.
This is when it is a good idea to hire a guide. So, let’s talk about that….
Wildlife Tours to See Sloths
When you visit national parks in Costa Rica it is sometimes possible to hire an experienced wildlife guide to walk you through the park.
Your guide will carry a large telescopic lens. This is so helpful when spotting sloths because usually, they are hiding high up in the trees. You can then use your phone to get a close-up picture through the lens like the image above.
Usually, the guide will be very knowledgeable about the wildlife in the area. Plus, they do these tours almost every day so, they know exactly where the animals hang out.
Protecting Sloths in Costa Rica
Please never touch a sloth (unless you are rescuing it). This can be very scary for them and causes their heart rate to rapidly increase which can lead to early death.
Plus, you can damage the ecosystem in their fur.
We have never seen this, but have heard of people setting up roadside stands with an offer to hold a sloth for pictures. Usually, these people have taken a young sloth from their mother and are using them to gain profits.
Please don’t participate in this. In fact, if you see this, try to take a photo of the person and immediately call the police (911). The police take wildlife protection very seriously and will respond.
Sloth Sanctuaries in Costa Rica
There are multiple sloth rescue centers located throughout the country. These places are typically non-profit facilities which rehabilitate wildlife after they are hit by car, attacked by other wildlife etc.
Unfortunately, because sloths are so slow-moving, they occasionally get hit by cars when coming down from the trees once a week.
Also, occasionally people will take in sloths and other wildlife as pets. When they are confiscated by the Costa Rican Wildlife Ministry they are often released to the care of one of the following facilities. Usually they can then not be rereleased back into the wild because they have been too domesticated.
I tried to only include facilities in this list that have a good reputation and are actually rehabilitating wildlife. However, there is some controversy about some of these places. Some issues I have heard about include:
– Caged in habitats seem too small.
– It is sometimes questionable when they charge high admission fees, how much of that profit is going to the animals?
– And are they really releasing the wildlife when they are rehabilitated or are they keeping them to continue making a profit off of them?
These are things you need to decide for yourself. I can’t really comment on it due to not knowing enough about them.
La Paz Waterfall Garden
La Paz Waterfall Gardens is located about an hour from the San Jose International Airport near Poas Volcano.
This place is a popular destination for families because you can see tons of wildlife, visit an impressive waterfall, and learn about Costa Rican culture all in a condensed area.
Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center
This facility is located in Alajuela and is just a short drive from the San Jose International Airport.
This is a great place for people of all ages. It is easy to walk through and you can see tons of different wildlife being rehabilitated.
It is possible to visit here as a day trip or volunteer for an extended period of time.
Kids Saving the Rainforest
Located in the hills above Quepos, this place has over 50 species of rescued animals. It is possible to visit here as a day tour, volunteer for a day, or volunteer for an extended period of time.
A non-profit facility located in Manuel Antonio. One project of theirs which I really like is that they are working to install rope crossing bridges over roads to help sloths cross.
It is not possible to visit the Sloth Institute, but you can check out their site for volunteer programs or if you are interested in donating to support their efforts.
The Sloth Sanctuary is located on the Caribbean coast just outside of Cahuita. They offer two tour options including one in which you can visit their sloth NICU/ Nursery. This is probably the most well-known sloth rescue center in the country.
Jaguar Rescue Center
The Jaguar Rescue Center is located near Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast. It is possible to visit here as a group or private tour. You can see a variety of rescued wildlife here.
FAQ: Sloths in Costa Rica
What part of Costa Rica has the most sloths?
Sloths can be found around the country. The more concentrated areas of sloths tend to be on the Caribbean coast, Central Pacific, and South Pacific areas.
Which sloths live in Costa Rica?
In Costa Rica, you can find two species of sloths. These are Hoffman’s two-toed sloths and the Brown-throated sloth (a three-toed sloth).
Where can I hold a sloth in Costa Rica?
Some rescue centers may allow you to hold a sloth. That being said, this is not an activity you should participate in. Being held by humans can be very traumatic for the animals and the oils from your skin are not good for them.
Are there sloths in Costa Rica?
Yes, there are two-toed and three toes sloths in Costa Rica. These sloths can be found all over the country.
In conclusion, Costa Rica offers a magnificent opportunity for tourists to witness the fascinating world of two and three-toed sloths.
Remember to always be patient, observant, and respectful of their space.
So pack your binoculars, put on your hiking boots, and get ready for an unforgettable journey into the realm of the sloths in Costa Rica!
And that is all for sloths in Costa Rica. If you have any questions, just leave them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out!
You Might Also Like:
Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know
🚗 Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?
Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will allow you to visit more off-the-beaten-path destinations and will allow you to take fun day trips on your own.
☀️ Should I buy travel insurance for Costa Rica?
Yes, travel insurance is always a good idea. It is not just for illness or injury, but also lost luggage, delayed trips, and more!
We like Heymondo for Costa Rica travel insurance.
✈️ What is the best way to book a flight?
Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).
🛏️ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?
🗣️What is the main language in Costa Rica?
The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.
💰 What is the currency in Costa Rica?
The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas
🌴 Is Costa Rica safe?
Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.
🛂 Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?
Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.