• Santa Rosa National Park (northwest of Liberia, in Guanacaste): One of the largest and last remaining stands of tropical dry forest in Costa Rica, Santa Rosa National Park is a great place for all sorts of wildlife viewing, from more than 100 species of bats to three types of monkeys. The sparse foliage, especially during the dry season, makes observation that much easier. 

  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve (in the mountains northwest of San José): There’s something both eerie and majestic about walking around in the early-morning mist to the sound of birds calling and lizards skittering through the leaves, completely surrounded by towering trees heavy with bromeliads, orchids, moss, and vines. The reserve has a well-maintained network of trails, and the community is deeply involved in conservation. 

  • The Río Sarapiquí Region (in the country’s north center): Protected tropical forests climb from the Caribbean coastal lowlands up into the central mountains, affording you a glimpse of a plethora of life zones and ecosystems. Braulio Carrillo National Park borders several private reserves, and here you’ll find a variety of ecolodges to suit any budget. 
  • Manuel Antonio National Park (on the central Pacific Coast): Here’s a spectacular spot for monkeying around. The stunning park is the best place in the country to see a variety of animals, especially monkeys, including the rare squirrel monkey. Keep your backpack snacks away from the nosy white-faced capuchins, who’ve been known to help themselves to treats. 

  • Osa Peninsula (in southern Costa Rica): This is Costa Rica’s most remote and biologically rich region. Corcovado National Park, the largest remaining patch of virgin lowland tropical rainforest in Central America, takes up much of the Osa Peninsula. Jaguars, crocodiles, tapirs, and scarlet macaws all call this place home. 

  • Tortuguero National Park (on the north Caribbean coast): Tortuguero has been called Costa Rica’s Venice because it’s laced with canals and transportation is by boat, but you’ll feel more like you’re floating down the wild, brown Amazon here. Exploring these narrow canals, you’ll see a wide variety of aquatic birds, as well as caimans, sloths, and up to three types of monkeys. If you come between June and October, you could be treated to the awe-inspiring spectacle of a green turtle laying her eggs—the beaches here are the largest nesting site in the Western Hemisphere for these endangered giants. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.