From the dazzling scarlet macaw to the enigmatic jaguar, Costa Rica presents unmatched opportunities for wildlife observation. Visitors can witness monkeys leaping across tree branches and toucans soaring beneath the forest canopy.

Costa Rica’s renowned biodiversity makes it an ideal destination for unparalleled wildlife and bird-watching experiences. A high-quality pair of binoculars is highly advised, as it can transform distant movements into up-close encounters with monkeys jumping through the trees, sloths clinging to branches, and toucans gracefully flying under the canopy.

For seasoned bird-watchers, a spotting scope is crucial, and visiting multiple parks will enable you to quickly add numerous new species to your lifelong list. Apart from the usual favorites, several rarer species are also worth seeking out.

Scarlet Macaw

Few tree-dwellers are as awe-inspiring as these monogamous birds, whose unique calls serve as an instant sign to stop and look up.

To increase your likelihood of spotting the vibrant scarlet against the lush green backdrop, head to Parque Nacional Carara, a renowned sanctuary for these winged wonders.

Squirrel Monkey

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, regarded as one of the country’s most breathtaking destinations, is characterized by rainforest-covered mountains extending to the sea.

With a bit of luck (and patience), you may find yourself face-to-face with its most famous resident, the increasingly rare Central American squirrel monkey.

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Costa Rica is among the few places worldwide where leatherback sea turtles regularly nest. Playa Grande is one location where you can observe these deep-sea dwellers nesting, especially during a full moon.

Pacific leatherbacks have been laying their eggs at Playa Grande for thousands of years.


Even experienced wilderness guides may spend their entire lives in Costa Rica’s rainforests and jungles without ever catching a glimpse of this elusive big cat.

However, if you’re determined to follow the trail of tracks and signs left by this apex predator, your best chance lies in the remote and rugged Parque Internacional La Amistad.

Humpback Whale

Topping the list of must-see marine creatures, humpback whales are celebrated for their awe-inspiring breaching displays, which are both photogenic and unforgettable.

To witness these gentle giants during their annual migration, include Parque Nacional Marino Ballena in your travel plans.

Baird’s Tapir

Resembling a river-dwelling rhinoceros, these lumbering creatures are among the most distinctive animals in the rainforest.

Although they are critically endangered due to habitat loss and illegal poaching, they are frequently sighted at the renowned Sirena ranger station in Parque Nacional Corcovado.