Costa RicaCosta Rica

       juvenile heron walking on sierpe manglar
  - Costa Rica

Nature Lovers Delight

Nature Lovers Delight

Costa Rica is a paradise for lovers of the great outdoors. It is home to more than four percent of the world’s total animal species, an astounding statistic for a country smaller than the state of West Virginia. Though it spans less than 20,000 square miles, Costa Rica is filled with volcanoes, rainforests, caves, beaches, rivers, cloud forests, wetlands, and dry forest. There’s much to explore, and based on years of experience, here’s our list of Costa Rica’s best nature activities.

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Aquatic Explorations

Tranquil boat tours are an incredible way to see gorgeous herons, egrets and camouflaged reptiles in Tortuguero National Park's web of canals and rivers. Kayaking tours are an ideal way to discover secluded spots like Nosara’s mangrove estuaries. Or, try a safari float in Arenal and glide down a placid river while your naturalist guide points out wildlife along the way. For the adventurous, whitewater rafting tours are an exciting way to explore Costa Rica’s scenic rivers; take a two-day trip and spend the night becoming one with nature in a spectacular river gorge.


Costa Rica is home to more than 850 bird species; such diversity comes courtesy of the country’s varied ecosystems, which range from tropical dry forest to swampy wetlands. Dedicated birders will enjoy day tours that begin before dawn or multi-day trips through Costa Rica’s bird country. Though birdwatching is excellent year-round, certain months are better than others for specific species: head to Monteverde between March and July for resplendent quetzal mating season; visit Isla Bolanos from January through May to spot the endangered brown pelican; or travel to Tortuguero between December and April to witness great green macaw mating season. 

Dolphin & Whale Watching

Costa Rica’s warm seas teem with marine life, including a large variety of dolphins and whales. To protect these majestic creatures, Costa Rican law does not permit swimming with dolphins or getting too close to whales; however, dolphin and whale watching tours are a fun and safe way to observe these incredible mammals. More than 25 dolphin and whale species navigate Costa Rican waters; among them, the most often spotted are humpback whales and spinner, spotted, and bottlenose dolphins. The best place to observe these magnificent mammals is in the south Pacific waters off the Osa Peninsula.


Costa Rica’s extensive natural riches are awe-inspiring, from misty cloud forest and hushed river gorges to high-altitude paramo and steamy rainforest. Hiking is the best way to experience Costa Rica’s awesome beauty, and can be enjoyed by all – from wheelchair-friendly pathways to beginner and advanced trails, you’ll enjoy this inside look at nature’s bounty. Specialty hikes are particularly enjoyable: take a horseback ride along deserted trails on your way to the park; visit the forest canopy on a series of hanging bridges; or combine a vigorous walk with an exiting canopy or waterfall rappelling trip. 

Food and Spice Tours

Trace the history of cacao, discover the varieties of vanilla, and explore coffee’s journey from the field to your cup on one of Costa Rica’s excellent spice and food tours. In the country’s indigenous villages, chocolate tours promise not only sweet eats but also interactive activities and rich narrations on the importance of cacao. Java junkies delight in informative and fun coffee tours that always include satisfying taste tests. Spice plantations delve into the history and uses of food’s most complementary plants, roots and herbs, tempting tourists to sample homemade goodies. Regardless of your palate's preferences, Costa Rica’s tropical environment offers a culinary tour you’ll be glad to sink your teeth into.

Volcano Viewing

There are few places in the world where you can stand at the base of an active volcano or observe a bubbling volcanic crater from above; Costa Rica has both. Visits to the country’s five active volcanoes are popular, but the sights are anything but common: fiery Arenal Volcano puts on a daily lava show, while the more docile Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is surrounded by medicinal mud baths, hot springs, and a crystal blue lagoon. No matter where you are in Costa Rica, you’re close to a spectacular, active volcano and the experience of a lifetime. 

Wildlife Conservation

Wildlife preservation is important in Costa Rica, and many projects strive to protect the country’s resident animals. Several conservation efforts are open to the public; entry fees and guest donations are often the projects’ main funding sources. Turtle nesting tours afford visitors a front-row seat to one of nature’s most amazing events; a Sloth Sanctuary in Cahuita cares for orphaned sloths; Alajuela’s Zoo Ave (Bird Zoo) rescues and rehabilitates mistreated and injured wildlife; and Proyecto Asis outside of Arenal welcomes volunteers to care for rescued animals and work in local conservation programs. Options are varied – everything from guided tours to long-term volunteer projects are available.

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