Check out the Top 10 Best National Parks in Costa Rica. With many National Parks in the country, here’s our list of favorites.
For the best possible experience at any of these parks, get a guide! Yes, that is the only way you will see what you need to see when you need to see it. It will save you time, and allow you to capture unforgettable memories.
Top 10 Best National Parks in Costa Rica
Now, here’s our list of the Top 10 Best National Parks in Costa Rica!
1-Cocos Island National Park
This place is green, very green and it rains a lot. On earth, underwater, this is a real natural paradise. it’s full of wildlife, and it’s hard to describe it in a few words. At Cocos Island, will get to experience two shore excursions, where you’ll get to see the various ranger stations. This way you can explore the beaches and the waterfalls. Of course, you should not go too far, as away from the paths everything it’s jungle, cloud and rain forests, and everything is virtually untouched.
There are three dives during the day as night diving is banned. A typical dive here involves a rapid drop down to 30m to see if any sharks are lurking amongst the rocks. Although this is always a safe experience full of hammerheads, the group is encouraged to stay together during a dive session as tiger sharks are known to be in the area.
2-Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio, Puntarenas, is one of the smallest parks in the country, but it’s also one of the most biodiverse ones on the planet. Be greeted by four stunning pristine white sand beaches, where you can swim, surf, do some snorkeling, or just relax with your favorite drink. The squirrel monkey is an endangered species that live here. He shares this biodiverse home with 3 and 2 toed sloths. Although these are the most famous tenants at Manuel Antonio, they are just part of 108 other mammals and 184 species of birds that call this place home. And, going back to the monkeys, be careful, as they will approach you and try to steal your food!
3-Corcovado National Park
From one of the smallest, let’s jump to the largest park in Costa Rica: Corcovado. An area that is known as:
“The most biologically intense place on earth”
This is a giant stretch of protected tropical rainforest located in the Osa Peninsula, Puntarenas. Corcovado National Park is home to an incredible diversity of animals and plants, and the best way to experience it all is to spend some time there.
The park features three main entrances: La Leona, Los Patos, and San Pedrillo. So, the get a glimpse at the best things the park has to offer, you’ll need to spend 2 to 3 days hiking from one entrance to another. Everything here is well marked, and camping is allowed. So, a very special wildlife adventure is reserved for those fortunate enough to visit this national natural treasure.
4-Arenal Volcano National Park
Visiting the Arenal region in Alajuela will be one of the most rewarding experiences on your trip to Costa Rica. The reason is that this is a place that really has it all. You can hike to, and around a stunning active volcano, zipline through lush primary forest, indulge in a relaxing soak at the local hot springs, and even horseback ride to magnificent waterfalls… Watching Arenal volcano from afar is a unique experience by itself… Consider the fact that the crown you see around the volcano are not clouds, but steam, emanating from the giant mountain 24 hours a day!
5-Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero, Limon, is one of the most prominent nesting zones for the beautiful green turtle. There are eight species of green turtles in the world, and four of those call Tortuguero home. These fascinating creatures lay their eggs on over 20 miles of protected coastline in Limon, on the Caribbean side of the country. But turtles are not the only attraction here, as the park’s eleven habitats also feature a large number of other species of animals.
A nice factor to consider is that the annual average rainfall here is extremely high. So, the rainforest is thick with verdant vegetation. And the most curious factor about Tortuguero is that you won’t be traveling on any roads here, as this national park can once be accessed by airplane or boat. For a great memory. don’t forget to take a kayak trip down the canals by yourself, and take your camera with you!
6-Cahuita National Park
This is where the jungle meets the sea! Be surrounded by monkeys and sloths while enjoying kilometers of pristine Caribbean beaches. Make sure to get there early, as rangers will start getting people to leave around one hour before the park closes its doors at 5 pm. Now, the easiest entry is through the Kelly Creek ranger station. You can walk to Punta Cahuita, or you can continue to Puerto Vargas ranger station, the other entry for the park. Make sure to bring some beach shoes as the sand gives way to broken shells and coral.
7-Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
If you’re into bird-watching, this is a must-visit for you. If you’re seeking a thrilling experience, ziplining in the cloud forest will definitely do the trick. The Monteverde Cloud Forest is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica. What’s amazing about this tiny area is the following stat:
“Monteverde is home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity, and about 10% of the plants found there can be seen nowhere else in the globe.”
8-Marino Ballena National Park
This is a place that many tourists skip on their trips to Costa Rica, and for that reason, it remains unspoiled. Make sure to watch for the low tide so you can walk to the whale’s tail, a very beautiful rock formation. You will notice some rivers flowing to the sea, and will also spot the occasional bird watcher. If you’re hungry, just head to the Marino Ballena park’s entrance, as Uvita’s main restaurant strip is located there.
We also featured Marino Ballena in our list of Costa Rica’s Best Pacific Coast Beaches, check it out!
9-Chirripo National Park
Climb to the highest point in Costa Rica! Take your camera with you for some stunning shots! Beware, Chirripo, in San Jose, is no easy hike, and this is particularly true if you’re not used to high altitudes. With that said, this is a safe and comfortable trip for solo or group travelers. This will be indeed a challenging and fabulous experience at the most amazing mountain peaks in Costa Rica.
10-Tenorio Volcano National Park
You can’t leave Costa Rica without a visit to the Rio Celeste Waterfall in La Fortuna. A picture of you there is worth the trip, a beautiful memory to take home. Tenorio is a park with scenic trails passing through primary cloud and rain forests. This water’s unique color is the result of mixed minerals from two converging rivers. You can take a three-hour excursion to the waterfall, with possible sightings of toucans, reptiles, monkeys, birds, and other wildlife.
Top 10 Best National Parks in Costa Rica: What to Bring
Bring both sandals and high shoes, as you’ll need both kinds. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, repellent, and even a small umbrella. Bring enough shorts and t-shirts!
Hope you enjoyed this article on the Top 10 Best National Parks in Costa Rica, now check out this article on the Top Things To Do in Costa Rica!