Attractions – Ecotourism

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Thanks to the biodiversity found in the territory, Costa Rica is one of the top nature destinations of the world. It becomes a Mecca for hundreds of tourists who love our natural treasures and the fact that we are a leader in responsible ecotourism.

Ecotourism occurs when we make the least impact on our environment. It is an important source of income for the country. These very funds help protect natural environments as well as to benefit the local people by helping them to become less dependent on other activities that would be harmful to nature.

Fortunately, Costa Rica is where much of the ecotourism was first started and it is where this activity has taken hold successfully.  This natural paradise has broad experience showing off its marvelous natural resources to tens of thousands of visitors each year.

A large percentage of tourists who visit Costa Rica are motivated by ecotourism while also participating in complementary activities.  According to surveys of air passengers made by the Costa Rican Tourism Board, 61% of these passengers visit a national park while here, 66% observe the flora and fauna, and 65% use a nature trail. However, even more visitors (78%) visit a beach.

Costa Rica is not only attractive because of its biodiversity but also for their good practices in ecotourism.  The fact that in a period of only seven to fifteen days a person can experience two or three habitats, visit a volcano, stay in a city, go rafting, rest on a beach, participate in ecotourism activities, do regular tourism, participate in the lives of the people in rural areas, or choose activities that are adventurous, makes Costa Rica a great country to visit.

The Cloud Forest of Costa Rica

The Cloud Forest is located 1600 meters above sea level. Given the height, the trees do not grow as much as in coastal areas where tropical rain forests and dry tropical forests grow among others.

Costa Rica’s highlands have some of the world’s richest Cloud Forests. These amazing habitats are home to thousand of unique species of flora and fauna, some of them endemic, meaning they only exist in certain areas. The Cloud Forest is also unique scenery for hikers, birdwatchers, sightseeing and biologists.

The cool wheather and fresh air makes it a favorite area for Honeymooners as well.

Some of the most amazing Cloud Forests in Costa Rica are: Monteverde, Savegre Valley, San Gerardo de Dota, Poas, Barva, Turrialba, Talamanca Chirripo and many areas of the Tilaran Mountain Range and the Guanacaste Mountain Range.

The Tropical Rainforest of Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, almost all the lower parts of the Caribbean and the South Pacific are or they were some time covered completely by the rainy tropical forest.  Nowadays, there are large extensions of this type of forest in the Caribbean in the South Pacific, as well as parts of the Central Pacific.o

It is characterized for trees of great size, grove forest, rich biodiversity in both flora and fauna and by being one of the most important attractions of the country.  The tropical forest of National Park Corcovado, it s said that is the richest in the world.

Some of the most famous of rainforest are:  Corcovado y Osa,Golfo Dulce and Golfito,Talamanca and some zones of the Coastal Row.  In the Caribbean, the most important zones are:  Gandoca and Puerto Viejo in the South Caribbean, Fila Carbón, Cahuita, Talamanca, Tortuguero, Barra del Colorado.  In San Carlos: Boca Tapada and Cutris of San Carlos, Laderas North-East of the Cordillera of Tilarán and Guanacaste.

The Tropical Dry Forest of Costa Rica

Tropical dry forests are forests that grow in areas that do not receive rain during many months of the year.  In the dry forests of the Area of Conservation Guanacaste, there is a well definite dry season, during 6 months between the middle of December and the middle of May.  Many trees in this time are without leaves.  During the other 6 months of the year, there is a lot of rain. The forest is very wet and humid and all the plants have leaves and everything is green.

Just like the tropical rainy forests, the tropical dry forests have a lot species of animals, plants, mushrooms, bacteria, and virus.  Also, the people in the ACG are realizing that many tropical species are now living part of their lives in rainy or cloudy forests and live part of their lives in the dry forests.  Therefore, it is important to preserve areas of dry forests and rain forest combined.  ACG areas where there are no longer dry forest, or only very young forests, people in the ACG regenerated from pastures and old farms by controlling the fires of the dry season, caused by other people. Without fires, the forest grows.

The Mangroves of Costa Rica

There are ten wetlands in Costa Rica that have been declared as Wetlands of International Importance. Three of these are categorized as wildlife refuges and other is a national park. Once the country received the international recognition, it pledged to increase on its conservation and sustainable use.

In the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica you can see the red mangrove, the tea mangrove, the black mangroves, the white mangrove and seldom the mangrove botoncillo.  In the Atlantic Coast there is not tea mangrove.  Inside both coasts, at times, you can see inside the mangrove swamp Forest: ferns, orchids and bromelias epífitas in the own trees of the mangrove.  The destruction of the mangrove swamps in Costa Rica is due mainly to tourist projects in the beaches or by the development of the agriculture that always changes the nature of the surrounding marine ecosystem.

Monkeys and Monkey Observation

There are four species of monkeys in Costa Rica, each specie has a different habitat and range.

The monkeys are:

  • Mono Congo (Howler Monkeys)
  • Mono Cariblanco White Face ( Capuccin Monkey)
  • Mono Titi (Titi Monkey)
  • Mono Araña (Spider Monkey)

The most popular monkey species are the howler and the white face monkeys.
Howlers are very popular along the Pacific Coastal area, specifically Guanacaste and Nicoya Peninsula, and the White Face Monkeys live further south. They are very abundant in Manuel Antonio and other areas. Titi is common in the South Pacific Area.

Whale and Dolphin Watching

Without a doubt, see a whale or a dolphin is a show that one can never forget. In Costa Rica, specially in the South Pacific this show is for nine months of the year. Combine whale watching tours with information are educational for the conservation of these animals.

Some of the most famous areas for watching whales and dolphins in Costa Rica are:

Coronado Bay South Pacific, Costa Ballena Marine Park, Osa Peninsula and surrounding areas, Golfo Dulce Guanacaste and Nicoya Peninsula, Southern Caribbean.

Rivers in Costa Rica

Costa Rica also has an abundance of rivers. The called Mountain Range Talamanca, and the Central, Tilaran and Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Ranges create a dorsal spine from which many rivers start.
The largest river is Río Térraba, in the South Pacific area, followed by Tempisque River in the North Pacific area of Guanacaste.

Other important rivers are Reventazón, Matina, Pacuare and Sixaola on the Caribbean Coast, Naranjo, Savegre and Parrita in the Central Pacifi area, and San Carlos, Sarapiqui and Rio Frio in the Northern Plains.

Some rivers where we practice rafting are:
Chirripo River, Rio Puerto Viejo, Sarapiqui River and Rio Toro.

Birdwatching and Birds

With more than 850 species of birds, all found within a tight geographic area, Costa Rica offers birds watchers  of all levels of expertise an unrivaled experience during their stay in the country. From the oak forest of the Talamanca Mountains, Central America’s highest mountain range, to the cloudforests of Monteverde or Braulio Carrillo National Park (in the lowland rainforest of the Osa Peninsula), birds watchers will discover a rich variety of habitats filled with wonderful diverse groups of birds.

Recommended Sites

National park of Piedras Blancas South Pacific and the Golfo Dulce San Gerardo de Dota in Cerro de la Muerte, Monteverde, Corcovado National Park, Tortuguero National Park, Carara National Park, Manuel Antonio, Sarapiqui, among others.

Turtle Observation

There are several turtle species that nest on both coastal areas of Costa Rica. Only 1 of 5000 Sea Turtles are going to be adults, so it is really important that people do not disturb them while digging the holes in the sand to put their eggs. No bright flash lights please!

Turtle Watching can be done along Costa Rica`s Caribbean Coast and the Pacific Coast.
Species: Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Olive Ridley Sea Turtles

When and where?

The nesting of Sea Turtles is one of natures amazing spectacles. Green Turtles nest along the beaches of Tortuguero National Park from July to October.

Leatherbacks nest frequently along the Caribbean coast and at Las Baulas National Park in Guanacaste from February to June. Hawksbill and Loggerheads nest along the Caribbean during the summer months.

The Olive Ridley nest in Ostional in Guanacaste. They come to the shore in large numbers for several days each month from August to September.


Sea Turtles are most frequently seen when the females come ashore to deposit their eggs on beaches usually at night.

National Parks, Biological Reserves and Protected Areas.

There is an estimated that more than 30% of the total area of Costa Rica that is under some sort of protection.