Costa Rica

Wildlife in Costa Rica

Wildlife in Costa Rica

Despite its teeny, tiny size, Costa Rica packs a mighty punch when it comes to exotic wildlife. In fact, the land of Pura Vida (Pure Life) comes in at number eight for the world’s most biodiverse countries by landmass. There are around 500,000 species that call Costa Rica home, which represents around four percent of the total species worldwide. The extraordinary wildlife can be admired under the canopy of the rainforest, on the lush slopes of volcanoes and in the depths of the ocean. Read on to delve into the wonderful world of wildlife in Costa Rica.


  1. The Colourful Creatures Roaming the Skies
  2. The Adorable Animals Sure to Fill Up Your Camera Roll
  3. The Spine-Tingling Creatures You’ll Want to Keep Your Distance From
  4. The Majestic Marine Life of the Oceans


The Colourful Creatures Roaming the Skies

When it comes to birds, toucans are the poster-child of Costa Rica and can be found on magnets, postcards and t-shirts in every souvenir store, so seeing one for yourself is an absolute must. You can spot this black and yellow bird and its multicoloured bill in the trees of Carrara National Park or Manuel Antonio National Park. The resplendent quetzal, which is as beautiful as its name suggests, is another impressive bird native to Central America. The adult males are particularly special, owing to their long emerald plumes, and can be found feeding on fruit trees in the national parks of Poas Volcano and La Amistad. Other colourful birds to keep an out for in the rain and cloud forests of Costa Rica include hummingbirds, scarlet macaws, great green macaws and the lesson’s motmot. And finally, with over 90% of the species in Central America, butterflies are another big attraction in beaches, forests and mangroves. The most beautiful species to look out for are undoubtedly the blue morho, the owl butterfly and the glass wing butterfly.

Bird in Costa Rica


The Adorable Animals Sure to Fill Up Your Camera Roll

Along with the toucan, the sloth pulls its weight as the face of Costa Rica. These adorably lazy creatures (even their name in Spanish - peregozos - translates to the ‘lazy ones’) live a life even more relaxed than beach-loving Ticos (Costa Ricans). They sleep for around 20 hours a day, have just a quarter of the muscle mass of other animals their size and take around two weeks to fully digest a meal. Sloths can be spotted in their famous upside-down position at their popular hangout spot on Manuel Antonio beach or in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, as well as in the Sloth Sanctuary in Cahuita. We can also whisk you off to Arenal to go searching for sloths with a private nature guide. Monkeys are another popular attraction when it comes to wildlife in Costa Rica and and the cheeky white-faced capuchin species (made famous by Marcel on Friends) can be easily spotted in the wild in several spots throughout the country, including Manuel Antonio, Monteverde and Osa Peninsula. And finally, Costa Rica is also awash with surprisingly adorable amphibians, such as the red-eyed tree frog and the glass frog. One of the best spots to observe frogs is a Arenal Oasis, where one of our top naturalist guides can lead you through the rainforest trails of the country’s only wild frog sanctuary.

Monkey in tree in Costa Rica


The Spine-Tingling Creatures You’ll Want to Keep Your Distance From

For every adorable and friendly creature out there, there is another more sinister critter. Local guides are incredibly knowledgeable about our friends and foes in the jungle and the ocean, making it possible to spot some menacing creatures in the wild. Brave-hearted snake lovers can head into the Corcovado National Park to spot the triangular-headed fer-de-lance snake, which, as the most dangerous species of snake in Central and South America, can be a menacing site. We can also arrange for you to enjoy a nocturnal observation walk through the trails of Hacienda La Isla, in Saraquipi, as this is one of the best ways to spot snakes. Those fearless enough to come face to face with a wild crocodiles can visit the Tarcoles Bridge, which acts as a safe viewing point from which to observe gargantuan American crocodiles sunbathing on the riverbanks below. These dinosaur-like beasts can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and reach a length of 20ft and they are not to be messed with.

lizard up close

Andre Schumacher/laif-REA


The Majestic Marine Life of the Oceans

Some of the best wildlife in Costa Rica can be found in the ocean - we’re talking, whales, dolphins, turtles and manta rays. Above water you can enjoy a marine concert of humpback whales singing and dancing alongside your boat in Ballenas Marine Park, Drake Bay or Golfo Dulce; or admire angelic dolphins chasing after your catamaran off the shores of Samara or Uvita. When it comes to snorkelling and diving, you are spoilt for choice. Cueva del Tuburón - or ‘Shark’s Cave’ - is a great place for daring divers to swim with white-tipped sharks - this species is far less dangerous than their bull shark cousins and they actually go to the mouth of the cave to sleep. This cave is also a popular hangout spot for tropical fish, such as pufferfish, box fish and sea turtles. The gentle giant of the ocean, the 20ft long giant manta ray, can be spotted gracefully gliding through the waters off Caño Island and the Catalina Islands.

beach in costa rica