Top 8 Animals to Spot in Costa Rica

Sloths, monkeys and jaguars, oh my! Lover of wildlife? Costa Rica is most definitely calling your name! With over half a million different species, and around 5% of the world’s land species living in Costa Rica, wildlife is sure to be a highlight while you’re there! With protected national parks and sanctuaries galore, you’re in for a treat with the ample amounts of animals there is to see in Costa Rica. Here are a few must-sees, from mammals, sea life, reptiles and more.

1. Sloths

The loveable lazy sloth is the spirit animal for many of us and one of the animals Costa Rica is most known for. You’ve gotta love them for their “pura vida” outlook on life! Of course, they’re a definite must see. One of the best places to spot sloths and actually most wildlife is Manuel Antonio National Park or visit the Sloth Sanctuary for a guaranteed sighting.

2. Monkeys

With four main species of monkeys from Squirrel, Capuchin, Spider and Howler, you’re guaranteed to see more than a few during your time on this island. You’ll likely spot Capuchin monkeys at the beach at the end of Manuel Antonio National Park. If you’re staying anywhere near the jungle, you’re more than likely to have the Howler monkey as your alarm clock. And in Corcovado National Park, you’ll likely spot all four species.

3. Jaguar

Although extremely rare to spot one of these majestic creatures in the wild, your best odds of spotting one is in Corcovado National Park and Amistad National Park. Unfortunately these beautiful mammals are endangered. However, thanks to the large number of protected areas in Costa Rica’s dense rainforests, jaguars are able to thrive freely. Otherwise you’re guaranteed to see them at the Jaguar Rescue Center in Limon.

4. Anteater

How can you not love these funky looking creatures!? They can typically be found near rivers and thick vegetation, notably Barra Honda National Park and Manuel Antonio National Park, as well as places such as the Jaguar Rescue Center.

5. Tapir

These funny looking creatures are also unfortunately endangered. You’re most likely to spot these mostly nocturnal and slow docile animals near water in tropical rainforests such as Corcovado National Park, Santa Rosa National Park and Rincon de la Vieja National Park.

6. Whales

Not only does Costa Rica offer incredible wildlife on land, but also in the ocean too! Although Humpback Whales are the most common, Orcas and Blue whales can also be spotted as well as dolphins all year round! For your best chance of spotting a Humpback, the season is from July-November. Head to Marion Ballena National Park and Corcovado National Park for the best spots for whale watching.

7. Toucans

Toucans are certainly symbolic to Costa Rica. Across Costa Rica’s lowland and rainforests, there’s over 42 species, each with its own amazing set of colours. Relatively easy to spot in a range of places across the country such as the fruit trees in La Selva and Monteverde, Carara National Park and along the coast especially by Osa Peninsula. You’re in for a bird watching treat!

8. Crocodiles

It’s not just all cute and colourful animals in Costa Rica! These huge reptiles can be found throughout Costa Rica. For an unforgettable sight, stop at the bridge over Rio Tarcoles on your way to Jaco or Manuel Antonio and you’ll spot them sunning themselves out on the river banks below. 

Keen to experience the incredible Costa Rica wildlife for yourself!? Check out our Costa Rica tours here.

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