- Lankester Gardens: If you want a really pleasant but not overly challenging day hike, consider a walk among the hundreds of species of flora on display here. The trails meander from areas of well-tended open garden to shady natural forest, plus there’s a highly regarded orchid collection.
- Rincón de la Vieja National Park: Visit the geysers, mud pots, and fumaroles of “Costa Rica’s Yellowstone,” or hike down to the Blue Lake and Cangreja Falls, where you’ll find a pristine turquoise pool fed by a rushing jungle waterfall. You can also hike up to two craters and a crater lake here, while the Las Pailas loop is ideal for those seeking a less strenuous hike.
- La Selva Biological Station: La Selva has an extensive and well-marked network of trails. You’ll have to reserve in advance and take the guided tour if you aren’t a guest at the lodge, but the hikes are led by informed naturalists, so you might not mind the company.
- Arenal National Park & Environs: This park has several excellent trails that visit a variety of ecosystems, including primary and secondary rainforest, savanna, and old lava flows. Most of them are on the relatively flat flanks of the volcano, so there’s not too much climbing involved.
- Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve: Take a guided tour in the morning to familiarize yourself with the cloud forest, and then spend the afternoon exploring the reserve on your own. Off the main thoroughfares, Monteverde reveals its rich mysteries with stunning regularity. Even without a guide, you should be able to enjoy sightings of a wide range of unique tropical flora and fauna, and maybe even spot a resplendent quetzal.
- Corcovado National Park: The park has a well-designed network of trails, ranger stations, and camping facilities. Most of the lodges in Drake Bay and the Osa Peninsula offer day hikes into the park, but if you’ve come this far, you should hike in and camp at the Sirena ranger station.
- Cahuita National Park: Fronted by the Caribbean and an idyllic beach, the park has flat, well-maintained trails through thick lowland forest. They are parallel to the beach, so you can hike out on the trail and back along the beach, or vice versa. White-faced and howler monkeys are common, as are brightly colored land crabs.
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.