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Discover the Unforgettable Beauty of Costa Rica National Parks

Updated: May 19, 2023

Costa Rica is a country known for its incredible natural beauty and biodiversity. One of the best ways to experience Costa Rica's natural beauty is by visiting its national parks. With over 30 national parks and reserves, there is no shortage of places to explore. In this post, we'll take a closer look at some of Costa Rica's national parks. We'll share tips for visiting each park and highlight what makes them unique. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and let's explore the natural wonders of Costa Rica national parks.

manuel antonio beaches

Manuel Antonio National Park: Nestled on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park is a true gem that captivates the hearts of nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. With its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and abundant wildlife, this tropical paradise offers a remarkable experience that leaves visitors in awe.

One of the park's most alluring features is its diverse ecosystem. As you step into its boundaries, a symphony of sounds fills the air - the melodious chirping of birds, the rustling of leaves, and the distant crashing of waves. The park boasts an astonishing array of flora and fauna, making it a biodiversity hotspot. Venture along its well-maintained trails, and you'll encounter a fascinating world of tropical plants, towering trees, and vibrant orchids. Keep your eyes peeled for the iconic Costa Rican squirrel monkeys swinging from branch to branch or the elusive three-toed sloth leisurely navigating the canopy.

A visit to Manuel Antonio National Park wouldn't be complete without a trip to its breathtaking beaches. Picture yourself strolling along pristine shores, the soft sand beneath your feet and the rhythmic waves beckoning you for a swim. Playa Manuel Antonio, the park's main beach, is a postcard-perfect paradise with crystal-clear turquoise waters. Take a dip, soak up the sun, or grab your snorkeling gear to explore the mesmerizing marine life just a few steps away.

For the adventurous souls, the park offers a myriad of activities to get your adrenaline pumping. From zip-lining through the lush treetops to whitewater rafting down the nearby Savegre River, there's no shortage of thrills for those seeking an exhilarating experience. If you're a water lover, consider taking a kayak tour through the mangrove forests, where you can observe an abundance of wildlife, including crocodiles and herons.

When it's time to refuel, the town of Manuel Antonio just outside the park's entrance offers a delightful array of restaurants serving mouthwatering Costa Rican cuisine. Indulge in a plate of gallo pinto (rice and beans), ceviche (marinated seafood), or casado (traditional Costa Rican meal) while enjoying the laid-back atmosphere and warm hospitality.

Visiting Manuel Antonio National Park is a truly transformative experience, immersing you in the beauty of nature and allowing you to reconnect with the natural world. Whether you're an avid hiker, a wildlife enthusiast, or simply someone seeking tranquility, this tropical paradise has something to offer for everyone. So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Manuel Antonio National Park, where nature's wonders await at every turn. The entrance fee for adults is $18 USD.

Corcovado National Park: Nestled on the breathtaking Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park is an ecological treasure that enchants travelers from around the world. Spanning over 164 square miles, this pristine rainforest ecosystem teems with remarkable biodiversity, captivating landscapes, and awe-inspiring wildlife encounters. A visit to Corcovado National Park is an experience that immerses you in the heart of nature's raw splendor.

Corcovado National Park is renowned for its untouched wilderness, earning its reputation as one of the most biologically intense places on Earth. With its lush rainforest canopy, towering trees, and meandering rivers, the park offers a rare glimpse into the natural wonders of Central America. As you venture through the park's well-marked trails, you'll encounter secluded beaches, hidden waterfalls, and abundant wildlife.

The park's astonishing biodiversity is unparalleled. It is home to over 500 species of trees, more than 400 species of birds, 140 species of mammals, and countless reptiles, amphibians, and insects. The mesmerizing scarlet macaws, playful spider monkeys, and elusive jaguars are just a few examples of the wildlife that call this place home. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the vibrant plumage of toucans, parrots, and hummingbirds, while nature enthusiasts can marvel at the graceful movements of tapirs and anteaters.

quetzal bird

Embarking on a wildlife excursion within Corcovado National Park is an unforgettable experience. Guided tours offer the opportunity to spot rare species like the Baird's tapir, the endangered Central American squirrel monkey, and the mighty puma. The park's naturalists possess extensive knowledge and expertise, ensuring a safe and educational adventure through the untamed rainforest. Witnessing the park's inhabitants in their natural habitat creates a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of all living things.

Corcovado National Park stands as a symbol of Costa Rica's commitment to environmental preservation. The government and local organizations work tirelessly to safeguard this invaluable ecosystem. Visitors are encouraged to practice sustainable tourism, such as staying on designated trails, refraining from littering, and respecting the park's regulations. By doing so, we contribute to the long-term preservation of Corcovado's pristine beauty and safeguard the habitat for future generations.

A journey to Corcovado National Park is an invitation to witness nature's miracles firsthand. Its untouched wilderness, rich biodiversity, and remarkable wildlife encounters make it a destination like no other. This ecological gem serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between humanity and the natural world. So, venture into Corcovado and embrace the serenity, marvel at its wonders, and leave with a renewed sense of wonder and a commitment to protect the treasures that Mother Earth has bestowed upon us. The entrance fee for adults is $15 USD.

Arenal Volcano National Park: Located in northern Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano National Park offers an awe-inspiring adventure for nature enthusiasts. With its majestic volcano, lush rainforests, and abundant wildlife, the park beckons visitors seeking an unforgettable encounter with the forces of nature.

The star attraction of Arenal Volcano National Park is undoubtedly the Arenal Volcano, a towering colossus that once spewed fiery lava and ash, but now stands dormant. Its conical shape and verdant slopes create a breathtaking panorama that greets visitors as they enter the park. Embark on a guided hike along the well-maintained trails, winding through the dense rainforest, offering glimpses of the volcano's former eruptions. The captivating vistas and lush vegetation that surround the volcano are a testament to the regenerative power of nature.

While the beauty of Arenal Volcano National Park is enough to leave visitors in awe, the park offers more than just mesmerizing views. Adventure-seekers can partake in an array of exhilarating activities, such as ziplining through the forest canopy, traversing hanging bridges, or embarking on a heart-pumping whitewater rafting expedition on the nearby rivers. For those seeking relaxation, a dip in the geothermal hot springs is the perfect remedy, soothing tired muscles while surrounded by the park's natural wonders.

Beyond its volcanic marvels and adrenaline-inducing activities, Arenal Volcano National Park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. The rainforests within the park are teeming with a diverse array of flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for monkeys swinging from the branches, vibrant toucans and parrots soaring overhead, and colorful frogs camouflaged amidst the foliage. Birdwatchers will be enthralled by the park's avian residents, including the elusive and magnificent resplendent quetzal.

The conservation efforts in Arenal Volcano National Park have been instrumental in protecting its natural wonders. Visitors are encouraged to adhere to the park's guidelines, staying on designated trails to minimize disturbance to the fragile ecosystems. Local guides and rangers are available to provide insight into the park's history, geology, and wildlife, enriching the visitor experience while promoting environmental awareness.

Arenal Volcano National Park is a destination that epitomizes the harmonious coexistence of raw power and serene beauty. From the imposing volcano to the vibrant rainforests and captivating wildlife, every moment spent in this natural wonderland leaves an indelible mark, reminding us of nature's enduring allure. The entrance fee for adults is $15 USD.

Tortuguero National Park: Located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and only accessible by boat or plane, Tortuguero National Park offers a pristine natural sanctuary like no other. Known as the "Amazon of Costa Rica," this captivating park enchants visitors with its rich biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and, most notably, its role as a vital nesting ground for sea turtles.

Tortuguero National Park's remarkable biodiversity is a haven for nature enthusiasts. As you navigate the park's labyrinthine network of canals, you'll be greeted by a dazzling array of flora and fauna. Towering trees, draped in vines and epiphytes, provide a lush canopy that shelters an astounding variety of plant species. Keep an eye out for vibrant orchids, bromeliads, and heliconias that dot the forest floor.

The park is teeming with diverse wildlife, with over 300 species of birds calling this place home. Look up and witness toucans, parrots, and herons swooping through the sky, while troops of howler monkeys fill the air with their resonant calls. Jaguars, tapirs, and caimans lurk in the dense undergrowth, reminding us of the park's untamed beauty.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Tortuguero National Park is its critical role in the conservation of endangered sea turtles. From June to October, giant green turtles, hawksbills, and leatherbacks return to the park's beaches to lay their eggs. Witnessing this ancient ritual is a truly awe-inspiring experience.

Visitors can join guided night tours to witness these majestic creatures nestling into the sand, or even catch a glimpse of the hatchlings making their perilous journey to the sea. The park's dedicated conservation efforts, along with local initiatives, have played a crucial role in protecting these magnificent marine creatures.

The park's intricate canal system offers a unique mode of transportation and exploration. Glide silently along the water in a small boat, and allow the expert guides to unveil the hidden treasures of Tortuguero. The canals provide a glimpse into the park's diverse ecosystems, from dense rainforest to mangroves teeming with life. Listen to the symphony of birdsong, spot caimans basking in the sun, and perhaps catch a glimpse of an elusive river otter.

Beyond its natural wonders, Tortuguero National Park is also home to vibrant communities. Visit the nearby village of Tortuguero to immerse yourself in the local culture, interact with friendly residents, and savor traditional cuisine. The locals' deep connection with the park and their commitment to conservation offer invaluable insights into the delicate balance between humans and nature.

A visit to Tortuguero National Park is an unforgettable experience, where you can witness the raw beauty of nature and play a part in protecting it. From the breathtaking flora and fauna to the captivating sea turtle conservation efforts, this national park is a true gem of Costa Rica. So, pack your bags, embark on an adventure, and let the wonders of Tortuguero leave an indelible mark on your soul. The entrance fee for adults is $15 USD.

Poás Volcano National Park: Located in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica, just a short drive from the capital city, San José, Poás Volcano National Park offers an unforgettable experience that combines awe-inspiring sights with an abundance of biodiversity.

At the heart of Poás Volcano National Park lies the majestic Poás Volcano, a sight to behold. As one of the world's most active volcanoes, its awe-inspiring main crater is a mesmerizing sight. Visitors are treated to a spectacular display of geothermal activity, with swirling sulfuric gases and intermittent steam eruptions. Standing at the edge of the crater, one can witness nature's raw power and feel a profound connection with the Earth's dynamic forces.

Beyond the volcanic spectacle, the park boasts an extensive network of hiking trails that wind through lush cloud forests and reveal hidden gems along the way. The trails offer a diverse range of experiences, from leisurely strolls to challenging treks. The Escalonia Trail, for instance, takes you through a verdant forest teeming with colorful bird species, while the Botos Lagoon Trail rewards hikers with a serene view of a turquoise crater lake nestled within a dormant crater.

Poás Volcano National Park is not only a geological marvel but also a sanctuary for an astonishing array of plant and animal species. As you explore the park, you may encounter elusive creatures such as the resplendent quetzal, the iconic bird of the cloud forests, or the vibrant orchids that adorn the trees. The park's varied ecosystems support a thriving biodiversity, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers alike.

To enhance the experience, the park features a well-designed visitor center that provides valuable insights into the geological and ecological wonders of the area. Exhibits showcase the park's volcanic history, explaining the formation of craters and volcanic activity. Knowledgeable guides offer educational tours, sharing fascinating facts about the park's flora, fauna, and ongoing conservation efforts. It's an opportunity to deepen your understanding of the natural processes that shape our planet.

Poás Volcano National Park serves as a testament to Costa Rica's commitment to conservation. The park's management focuses on sustainable practices and environmental protection, ensuring the preservation of its unique ecosystems for future generations. Visitors are encouraged to follow responsible tourism practices, such as staying on designated trails and respecting the fragile environment.

A visit to Poás Volcano National Park is an unforgettable journey into the heart of nature's wonders. From the awe-inspiring volcanic crater to the tranquil trails and abundant biodiversity, the park offers an immersive experience that leaves visitors with a deep appreciation for our planet's geological and ecological marvels. The entrance fee for adults is $15 USD.

poas volcano

Cahuita National Park: Cahuita National Park, located on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, is a stunning natural wonder that is sure to leave a lasting impression on any visitor. With over 1,100 acres of land and 600 acres of marine reserve, this national park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, making it a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts.

One of the most popular activities in Cahuita National Park is hiking. The park boasts several trails that wind through lush rainforest and along the coastline, offering visitors the chance to spot monkeys, sloths, and a variety of bird species. The park’s most famous trail, the “Sendero de Perezoso,” or “Sloth Trail,” is a 5-kilometer hike that takes approximately two hours to complete. Along the way, visitors can spot the park’s namesake species, the Cahuita sloth, as well as other wildlife such as iguanas, raccoons, and a variety of bird species.

Another highlight of Cahuita National Park is its pristine beaches. The park is home to several gorgeous stretches of sand, including Playa Blanca and Playa Vargas. Visitors can spend the day lounging on the beach, swimming in the crystal-clear water, and snorkeling along the nearby coral reef. The reef is home to a variety of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and even the occasional dolphin or manatee.

In addition to hiking and beach activities, Cahuita National Park also offers visitors the chance to learn about the area’s rich cultural heritage. The park is home to several indigenous communities, including the Bribri and Kekoldi people, who have lived in the area for centuries. Visitors can take a guided tour of the park’s trails with a local guide, who can provide insight into the traditional uses of local plants and share stories about the area’s history.

Overall, a visit to Cahuita National Park is a must-do for anyone visiting Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. With its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage, this park offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. The entrance fee for adults is $5 USD.

Tenorio Volcano National Park: Visiting Tenorio Volcano National Park is a must-do activity for anyone interested in nature, adventure, and relaxation. The park's main attraction is the Tenorio Volcano, which towers over the landscape at 6,286 feet. Hiking the volcano is an exhilarating experience, as visitors can witness the volcanic activity up close and personal. The hike up to the summit is challenging but rewarding, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and the unique blue-green Rio Celeste river that runs through the park.

Another highlight of Tenorio Volcano National Park is the breathtaking Rio Celeste Waterfall. The waterfall is located deep in the park and requires a moderate hike to reach. However, the journey is worth it as visitors are rewarded with a stunning waterfall surrounded by lush greenery. The water is a bright turquoise blue color due to a chemical reaction caused by volcanic minerals in the water. This makes for a truly unique and memorable experience.

The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Visitors can spot a variety of bird species, including toucans and hummingbirds, and might even catch a glimpse of a sloth or a monkey, or even the endangered Baird's tapir and the Resplendent Quetzal. The park also boasts a range of plants, including orchids, bromeliads, and ferns, which make for a colorful and vibrant landscape.


When visiting Tenorio Volcano National Park, it's important to come prepared. The weather can be unpredictable, so visitors should bring appropriate clothing and footwear for hiking. Sunscreen, insect repellent, and plenty of water are also essential items to bring. Visitors should also be respectful of the park's fragile ecosystem and follow the park's rules and regulations.

Visiting Tenorio Volcano National Park is an unforgettable experience. With its active volcano, stunning waterfalls, and rich biodiversity, Tenorio Volcano National Park is a true hidden gem of Costa Rica. The entrance fee for adults is $12 USD.

More on Rio Celeste Costa Rica

Rio Celeste is a stunning natural attraction located in the northwestern region of Costa Rica. Its name, which means "Light Blue River," comes from the surreal turquoise color of its waters, which is caused by the blending of two different rivers with different mineral compositions.

The river is located in the Tenorio Volcano National Park, which is around 85 kilometers from Liberia, the capital of the Guanacaste province. To get to Rio Celeste, you can take a bus from Liberia to Bijagua, a small town near the park, which takes approximately 2 hours. Alternatively, you can rent a car or book a tour to take you to the park.

Once you reach the Tenorio Volcano National Park, you will need to hike for around 3.5 kilometers to reach the Rio Celeste waterfall. The trail can be challenging, but the breathtaking views of the tropical forest and the vivid blue river make it all worth it. You can also swim in the river, but it is not allowed to enter the water near the waterfall due to the strong current.

Visiting Rio Celeste is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed if you are traveling to Costa Rica. The beauty and uniqueness of the turquoise river and surrounding landscape make it one of the most stunning natural attractions in the country.

Tips for Visiting Costa Rica's National Parks

Before visiting any of Costa Rica's national parks, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and insect repellent, as these parks can be hot and humid. It's also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes and clothing that can handle the humidity and occasional rain.

Second, be respectful of the wildlife and natural environment. Stay on designated trails, and do not disturb any animals or their habitats. It's also important to pack out any trash you bring into the park to help preserve its natural beauty.

Finally, consider hiring a local guide. Many of Costa Rica's national parks are vast and can be difficult to navigate on your own. Hiring a guide can help you spot wildlife and learn more about the park's history and ecology.

Don't forget to check the latest fees before planning your visit to any national park in Costa Rica, as entrance fees may vary for non-residents or children. With these tips in mind, you're sure to have a memorable and exciting adventure exploring Costa Rica's national parks.

Also, see adults only all-inclusive resorts for the perfect vacation.


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