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Costa Rica Reizen wandelingen

With 30% of the land area protected by national parks, wildlife refuges, and preserves, Costa Rica hiking reveals a variety of well-marked trails for the adventurer. Hike through rainforests, amble along beaches, and pull yourself up the side of a mountain – Costa Rica is a destination both for those who wish to push themselves and those who prefer to take their time. Guided hikes are one of the best ways to explore the outdoors and see the beauty of this country. There are a number of hiking trails in Costa Rica all defined by their unique location. After all, half the joy of a good hike is in experiencing the otherwise unreachable views.

Arenal Volcano Park Hike

Costa Rica Hiking at Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano National Park is open daily from 8 am- 3 pm for hikers. The park is over 7,114 acres with gorgeous views throughout of Arenal Volcano. Hike for about 40 minutes over old lava flows and through the primary rainforest on a guided hike to see frequently missed nature and wildlife. A professional naturalist will take you through areas of regenerating nature where a unique set of plant and animal species can be found.

Rio Celeste Waterfall & Tenorio Volcano Hike


The bright blue waters of Rio Celeste

Rio Celeste, in the Guanacaste province, is a river so blue that in pictures it’s often mistaken for being photo-shopped! The color of the water truly needs to be seen by the naked eye to be believed. The guided Rio Celeste hike includes the chance to take a dip in natural hot springs around Tenorio Volcano. A guided full-day tour of this area is the way to go, with a five-mile challenging hike and the chance to seek out the volcano’s furnace vents. The Rio Celeste waterfall on your way back down is a one of a kind sight to behold. Keep in mind though that this trail can be difficult for inexperienced hikers.

Manuel Antonio National Park Hike

Best Hiking Trails in Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park Hike

Manuel Antonio National Park may seem small, but it has been named one of the best parks in the world. With monkeys playing in the forest canopy, take a leisurely hike through the rainforest and watch the waves roll in at three of the most beautiful beaches in the country? There are several trails in Manuel Antonio National Park. The Main Trail accessible from the park entrance is flat, sandy, and great for all ages! This is the trail many of the guided hikes will take. This is a great option as it branches off to all the major beaches within the park. Our Costa Rica Experts recommend hitting the trails early with a professional naturalist guide who will be able to point out all the highlights of the park. Another moderately difficult hike for adventurous travelers is the Cathedral Point Trail, a 0.9-mile loop around the park’s ridge with spectacular viewpoints. The trail is accessible from both Manuel Antonio and Escondido Sur Beach and can be steep at sections. Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit!

Arenal Hanging Bridges Hike

The Arenal Hanging Bridges Hike is a classic in the Arenal area. A series of trails with eight fixed and six hanging bridges will take you in a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) loop through the 618-acre private rainforest reserve beneath the mammoth Arenal Volcano. The hike takes approximately 2 hours in total and is only available by reservation. We suggest hitting the trails early when the wildlife is most active and hiking with a naturalist guide who is skilled at pointing out animals like howler monkeys, bird species, and wild boars. A Costa Rica Expert can arrange this day excursion for you. Don’t miss the waterfall extension trail toward the end of the hike.

Los Angeles Cloud Forest Hike

The Los Angeles Cloud Forest is a part of only 2.5% of the world’s remaining Cloud Forests. The hike is 2.5 miles long and is available for guests of the Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel. With over 250 bird species, the Los Angeles Cloud Forest Reserve is ideal for birding, and the night hikes offer a nocturnal expedition for the adventurous hiker.

Bajos del Toro Waterfall Hike

Costa Rica Bajos del Toro Hiking Trail

Hike to Bajos del Toro Waterfall.

Accessible from El Silencio Cloud Forest Lodge, the Bajos del Toro Waterfall Hike is a short hike that reaps a big reward. Just a 15-minute trek from the lodge reveals a stunning multi-colored, mossy-green canyon and the giant Bajos del Toro Waterfall, also known as Catarata del Toro, dropping 400 feet into it. The first fifteen minutes of the trek is along relatively flat terrain before you will need to descend about 375 steps to the base of the falls. Be sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes! The hike back up the stairs can be a bit challenging, but the scenery is worth it!

Santa Rosa National Park Hike

Santa Rosa National Park, in the Guanacaste province, is the oldest national park in Costa Rica. Hike through the dry forest in an area renowned for its wildlife. Santa Rosa National Park has the world’s only fully protected beach for nesting olive ridley sea turtles. It has the largest concentrations of baby sea turtles—who poke their heads out of their shells from August through November. Santa Rosa is also well known for its surf breaks and gorgeous white sand beaches that lure in surfers from around the world. Visitors can drive 7 miles into the park before they must give up their vehicles and continue their exploration of the remaining 12 miles of hiking trails on foot.

Carara Biological Reserve Hike


Scarlet macaw — a returning traveler photo

West of San Jose lies Carara Biological Reserve. The reserve holds one of the last remaining wild scarlet macaw populations. From mangroves to rainforests, there are a variety of ecosystems within the park to explore. Be on the lookout for monkeys, sloths, and a variety of bird species. Carara translates to crocodile in Spanish. So it’s no surprise that the adjoining Tarcoles River is the perfect place to add on a crocodile tour. A guided four hour Carara Tour can be arranged from the Central Pacific Coast or the San Jose area. Carara is ideal for the novice hiker and travelers with disabilities as the land is relatively flat and audio-visual and haptic technologies are speckled throughout the park.

Santa Juana Mountain Hike


A refreshing swim at Santa Juana Mountain

The Santa Juana Mountain Tour is recommended for everyone who needs a break from modern living. Relax by riding horseback and taking a dip in the waterfall swimming pools, enjoy catch-and-release Tilapia fishing, and visit a traditional sugar cane mill powered by oxen. Take this tour from the Central Pacific Coast and Manuel Antonio.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Hike

Monteverde Cloud Forest Hike in Costa Rica

Monteverde Cloud Forest Hiking Trail

The high altitude of Monteverde brings moisture, making it a rich source of biodiversity and allowing it to be called a Cloud Forest. The park has nine trails covering about eight miles (13 kilometers), but a half day tour will give you a great taste of the unique flora and fauna of the park. The illustrious quetzal is among one of over 400 bird species in the area, along with tens of thousands of insect species, more than 2,500 plant species, and 130 mammal species.

Corcovado National Park Hike


Corcovado National Park

National Geographic has named Corcovado National Park, on the remote Osa Peninsula, “the most biologically intense place on the planet.” In fact, Corcovado contains 13 diverse ecosystems with a variety of endangered species such as jaguars, red-backed squirrel monkeys, Baird’s tapirs, and harpy eagles. As of 2014, all visitors to Corcovado National Park must be accompanied by a guide. Day tours to Corcovado can be arranged by nearly all of the lodges in the Drake Bay and Puerto Jimenez areas.

Heliconia Hanging Bridges Hike

The Heliconia Hanging Bridges Hike is a great rainforest option for travelers in the Guanacaste province. Heliconia is a private reserve adjacent to Tenorio Volcano National Park with views that look out over the town of Bijagua and Lake Nicaragua. Experience a bird’s-eye view from hanging bridges of the 140 acres of rainforest below, home to bromeliads, butterflies, birds, and orchids.

Nocturnal Jungle Walk

Costa Rica Hiking Lapa Rios night tour

Lapa Rios night walk on the Osa Peninsula

So much is missed by limiting yourself to daytime hikes! The tropical rainforests of Costa Rica are home to an astounding amount of nocturnal creatures and when you’re sleeping, they’re just getting started. Guided nighttime jungle walks let hikers see and hear wildlife that they would otherwise never experience. The walk can be arranged from multiple f destinations.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park Hike

Rincon de la Vieja’s temperamental landscape is evocative of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. The park contains Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, the largest volcano in Guanacaste, in addition to nine (minimally) eruptive vents, fossilized lava flows, loose lava rock, hot springs, bubbling mud pots, and several waterfalls. Hikers interested in the geothermal landscape should check out the 2-mile Las Pailas loop. Serious hikers and birders should climb the 5-mile trail up to the crater. The slopes of the crater are the only places where the rock wren bird can be found. Full day hiking tours can be arranged to Rincon de la Vieja National Park.

Poas Volcano National Park Hike

Best Costa Rica Hiking Trails

Botos Lagoon

Accessible from the San Jose area, the Poas Volcano has one of the deepest and most active craters in the world and you can walk right up to it! Hit the Poas trails early in the morning when the crater can be seen more clearly. The Botos Lagoon, a lake within an extinct volcano crater, is a beautiful addition to the national park- so don’t miss it after the summit! The trail to the lagoon can be a bit more challenging because of its higher elevation, but if you’re active- it’s worth it. As always, you’ll get more out of your visit with a guide. The Poas hike is great to combine with other tours in the area.

Hidden Treasure Hike at El Silencio Lodge

Best Costa Rica Hiking Trails

El Silencio Hiking Trail

The treasures of Bajos del Toro aren’t gold or silver. The treasures are of a bright green and brilliant blue. The Hidden Treasure Hike in the Bajos del Toro area is taken from El Silencio Lodge in the Cloud Forest. Experience this unique ecosystem with an experienced naturalist guide who can point out wildlife and hidden treasures.


Costa Rica Reizen Dieren die je moet zien

Around 3 million years ago, Costa Rica rose up from the ocean (thanks to the numerous volcanoes) and began to form the land bridge between North and South America. As time went on, the species in these two very different landmasses started to mingle and mix, right around where Costa Rica would eventually be. Thanks to millions of years of history, this country is perfectly placed for prime wildlife adventures. The rainforests and jungles of Costa Rica contain more than 230 species of mammals. When venturing into the wilderness, don’t expect to find the large wild cats of your childhood films (unless you’re one lucky visitor)! In Costa Rica, it’s common to encounter monkeys swinging from the branches, sloths lounging in the crooks of trees, brightly colored tree frogs, coatis, jaguars, and tapirs peering out from forested corners. The following list showcases just a few of the awe-inspiring animals that can be found in Costa Rica:

Sea Turtles

Costa Rica animals & wildlife

If you’re looking for turtles, Costa Rica is the place. Several species of turtles return every year to the exact same beaches along both coasts to nest in a grand procession termed arribada. The leatherback sea turtle and hawksbill sea turtle can be found on both the Caribbean Coast and Pacific Coast. Ostional Beach, Tortuguero National Park, and Playa Grande are all well-known beaches for turtle nesting. Make sure you book your trip during the nesting season but keep in mind that it an arribada is never guaranteed.

Related Article: Best Costa Rica Sea Turtle Nesting Sites: Where To Go When


8 Must-See Exotic Costa Rica Animals

Cost Rica has the longest whale watching season in the world! Humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales, and Pseudo-Orca whales have all been seen off the Costa Rican coasts. The most popular of these is the humpback whale which can be seen nearly year-round. From December to early April, the Northern Hemisphere California Humpback Whales come to the Pacific Coast to breed, and from late to July to November, the Southern Hemisphere Antarctic Humpback Whales come to the Pacific. Whales can be seen all along the Pacific Coast, but are found in the largest concentrations along the Southern Coast and Osa Peninsula.

Related Article: Costa Rica Whale Watching Guide: Where To Go When

Scarlet Macaws

Discover Costa Rica animals and wildlifeThe vibrant red color of the scarlet macaw makes it a stand-out among rainforest birds. These beautiful birds are most commonly seen in pairs as they mate for life. Their diet consists mostly of fruit, seeds, and vegetation. The best places to see scarlet macaws are in Carara National Park on the Central Pacific coast and on the Osa Peninsula.


8 Must-See Exotic Costa Rica Animals

Mantled Howler Monkey

There are four monkey species in Costa Rica: white-faced capuchin, mantled howler, squirrel monkey, and the spider monkey. These guys travel in troops. So if you see one, you’ll probably see the whole gang! Monkeys can be found up and down both coasts, but are much less common in the central valley and interior highlands. All four species can be found on the Osa Peninsula on the South Pacific coast. Perhaps one of the most well-known destinations for monkey sightings is Manuel Antonio National Park. Manuel Antonio monkeys are nearly tame but can be almost aggressive if you have food as a result of travelers feeding them. Please do not feed the monkeys, and hold tight to your snacks!

Tree Frogs

8 Must-See Exotic Costa Rica Animals

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

If Costa Rica had a mascot, it would be the tree frog. There are many different species, but the most famous the red-eyed tree frog. Its bright red eyes and orange feet protect it from predators who perceive the frog to be poisonous. As their name suggests, you’ll need to look in the trees to see a red-eyed tree frog. They rarely ever can be found on or near the forest floor. Fun fact: the red-eyed tree frog only lives about four to five years.


Costa Rica Animals & Wildlife

Osa Peninsula butterflies

Costa Rica is also home to the giant blue morpho butterfly and contains more butterfly species than the whole continent of Africa. At 615 species of flora and fauna per 10,000 square kilometers, Costa Rica makes the USA with 104 seem paltry!


8 Must-See Exotic Costa Rica Animals

How could we forget the sloth? These curious creatures are on nearly every wildlife enthusiast’s bucket list. There are two types of sloth species in Costa Rica: the two-toed sloth and the three-toed sloth. You are more likely to see a three-toed sloth as they are out and about during the day. The toe-toed sloth is nocturnal. To see a toe-toed sloth, we suggest booking a night hike and keeping your eyes and ears open for any canopy rustling.

Related Articles:

  • The Complete Guide to Sloths in Costa Rica
  • Sloth Sanctuary Rising Starlet: Buttercup


8 Must-See Exotic Costa Rica Animals

Keel-billed Toucan

Who hasn’t always wanted to see a toucan? Thank you, Toucan Sam, for piquing our curiosity at a young age. There are six toucan species in Costa Rica. The most popular of which are the Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan and the Keel-Billed Toucan. The Keel-Billed Toucan has a brightly colored yellow neck and a multitude of green, blue, orange, and red on his bill, while the Chesnut-Mandibled Toucan’s bill is bright yellow and deep red. Toucans are also frugivorous which means they feed exclusively on fruit (not Froot Loops).


Costa Rica Animals & Wildlife

Okay, so the Wildcats of Costa Rica are not exactly on the must-see list. In fact, you would be one of the lucky few if you saw an endangered Wildcat in its native habitat. There are six species of Wildcats in Costa Rica: Oncilla, Margay, Puma, Jaguar, Jaguarundi, and the Ocelot. Wildcats are primarily live in Corcovado National Park, but can sometimes be seen in wildlife rescue sanctuaries.

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