As a world leader in eco-tourism and wildlife conservation, Costa Rica is known for its abundance of wildlife. With half of the country covered in forests, an intricate network of waterways, and nearly endless coastline, wildlife spotting alone draws travelers to Costa Rica. You can spot beloved sloths, monkeys, and frogs in the rainforest, watch turtles nest on the beaches, go birding in national parks, explore the jungles by night, and visit wildlife rehabilitation centers.

Getting Oriented

Sloths are one of the most beloved creatures that call Costa Rica home.

It's almost impossible to visit Costa Rica and not enjoy the country's famed wildlife. Every region in Costa Rica offers habitats that support the country's beloved critters, including sloths, monkeys, wild cats, iguanas, frogs, crocodiles, exotic bird species, and more. But wildlife spotting in Costa Rica isn't just reserved for the jungles; extend your viewing with dolphin- and whale-watching excursions, boating in mangrove estuaries, or snorkeling above reefs teeming with marine life.

Marine Life & River Critters

With nearly 800 miles of coastline and a complex network of rivers and waterways crisscrossing the country, viewing wildlife in the ocean, sea, or riverbeds is a must-do on any animal-focused trip to Costa Rica. 

Whale & Dolphin Tour in Drake Bay

Catch glimpses of Drake Bay's humpback whales, dolphins, and other marine species.

Set on the Osa Peninsula is the biologically diverse Drake Bay, where you can enjoy a whale- and dolphin-watching tour. Yearround, you can see several types of dolphins, including spotted, bottlenose, spinner, common, and rough tooth. From mid-July to October, you can spot southern migration whales, including the distinctive humpbacks; and from mid-November through April, northern migration whales make their journeys through Drake Bay. Read More

Pacific Green Turtle Nesting Experience

Watch hundreds of sea turtles make their way up the beach to lay their eggs.

Enjoy one of the most beautiful natural phenomena in Costa Rica, as hundreds of endangered Pacific Green sea turtles make their way up onto Playa Minas in the Gulf of Papagayo to lay eggs. Each mother lays up to 90 eggs, covering the nest with sand before heading back into the water. Enjoy watching and learning more about this event as you relax on the scenic beach. One of the best turtle nesting and hatching experiences in Costa Rica is right here in Guanacaste. Read More

Boat Excursion in Tortuguero National Park

The Tortuguero waterways are home to an abundance of wildlife.

Tortuguero National Park offers rainforest laced by waterways. The best way to explore this system of canals is to take to the waters in a boat guided by a professional naturalist. Your guide will help you spot animals, such as spirited howler monkeys, northern jacana waterfowl, caiman, egrets, tiger herons, white-faced capuchin monkeys, and more. Read More

Boca Nosara Wildlife & Birding Kayak Tour

Search the Boca Nosara for animals like waterbirds, iguanas, crocodiles, monkeys, and more.

The Río Nosara and the Río Montana are the two largest rivers in the Nosara region on the Nicoya Peninsula. These waterways meet and form the Boca Nosara, an expansive mangrove forest with roots below water. Explore this natural area by kayak and view various waterbirds, including blue herons, anhingas, and roseate spoonbills, plus life below the surface. You might also see slightly more exotic animals, like howler monkeys, iguanas, and crocodiles. Read More

Plan your trip to Costa Rica
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Inland Animals

After enjoying the species that call the coast and waterways home, head inland to observe some of the most beloved animals in Costa Rica. With both daytime and nighttime excursions, you can view sloths, monkeys, armadillos, frogs, and more, plus visit the rehabilitation centers dedicated to the country's conservation efforts.

Sloth Observation Night Tour

Explore the rainforest at night to catch glimpses of the adorably slow-moving sloth.

The La Fortuna area is an ideal habitat for sloths: its climate, ecological protection, availability of food, and essential absence of predators make it an oasis for the species, which are more active after dark. Start your nighttime hike alongside a river and underneath the Guarumo trees (the sloth's favorite food). Your specialized guides are experts at finding sloths and will reveal the importance of the animal's protection with you as you walk and observe. Read More

Visit Kids Saving the Rainforest Wildlife Sanctuary

Interact with the animals that the sanctuary rehabilitates.

Kids Saving the Rainforest is a non-profit that rescues over 100 animals each year, with the primary goal of rehabilitating and releasing them back into the wild. On this educational wildlife excursion, you'll not only tour the sanctuary, but you'll also roll up your sleeves and jump right into the work of caring for the animals yourself! Read More

Night Tour at the Wildlife Refuge in Monteverde

Night tours are a popular way to see a different side of the jungle.

Monteverde's diverse environment gives life to an abundance of wildlife, and night hikes are a great way to see all of the animals and creatures that slow down their rhythms and come out after dark. A naturalist will lead this adventure, pointing out animals, such as sloths, armadillos, and kinkajous, plus birds, agoutis, porcupines, gray foxes, tarantulas, and frogs. Read More

How to Craft the Perfect Wildlife Itinerary in Costa Rica

Toucans are a familiar sight in the Costa Rican rainforests.

As one of the world's leaders in wildlife conservation, you can easily adapt any Costa Rican itinerary to include wildlife experiences. In fact, many travelers visit the country just for the wildlife! But, of course, observing Costa Rica's beloved critters complement nature excursions and active adventures, too. So, regardless of when, where, or how long you travel, you can add wildlife experiences to your trip.

How many days you spend in Costa Rica depends on how much you want to see and do. Luckily, if your focus is on the country's animals, you can go anywhere in Costa Rica and see a lot in just a few days. However, if you'd like to combine wildlife viewing with other experiences or mix and match a few different regions, one or two weeks in Costa Rica will do the trick.

Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries that include wildlife experiences in Costa Rica: