Big Five Animals of Costa Rica

Move over Africa! Here are The Big Five Animals of Costa Rica for every wildlife enthusiast’s bucket list. A Costa Rica nature safari is a must for travelers in need of a change of scenery. Here is our Costa Rica Big Five. And the list could have definitely gone on…


Big Five Animals of Costa Rica

keel-billed toucan

Colorful, flashy, vibrant. There are six toucan species in Costa Rica. The colorful bird you’re imagining is likely either the keel-billed or the chesnut-mandibled variety. Toucans are frugivorous meaning they feed exclusively on fruit. Sorry Toucan Sam, Froot Loops won’t cut it. The birds use their enormous bills as tools to grab berries and scoop the sweet flesh from their fruit. If you’d like to see a toucan, just head to the woods. They are plentiful in forests throughout Costa Rica.

Species: keel-billed toucan, chesnut-mandibled toucan


Big Five Animals of Costa Rica

Heads up! You’ll typically find sloths hanging around the canopy of low and middle elevation forests in Costa Rica. They rarely come down unless they’re doing their business. But why so slow? Sloths eat leaves which are tough to digest and produce little energy. To conserve energy, they move at the slow, lethargic pace that we all love them for. When looking for these sluggish critters, make like a sloth and move slow since they can be difficult to spot in the forest canopy.

Species: two-toed sloth, three-toed sloth


Big Five Animals in Costa Rica

white-faced capuchin monkey

The fun thing about monkeys is that often if you see one you’ll see many. These zany little creatures travel in troops following their alpha. Perfect, you’ll have time to get the camera ready! There are four species of monkeys found in Costa Rica. The most common is the white-faced capuchin, though. You’ll likely hear the loud cries of the Howler long before you see it. Don’t be surprised if a troop of monkeys finds you before you find them. Some troops have learned to rely on travelers perhaps a little too heavily to supply food. Try not to encourage this and hold tight to your lunch!

Species: white-faced capuchin, mantled howler, squirrel monkey, spider monkey

Tree Frogs

Big Five Animals of Costa Rica

red-eyed tree frog

Costa Rica’s 43 species of frogs come in all different colors and sizes. So if you’re looking, you’ll spot at least one and leave with plenty more to discover on your next visit. The most famous tree frog in Costa Rica is the red-eyed tree frog. Their bright, beautiful colors warn other animals of their toxicity. Like many Costa Rican frogs, the red-eyed tree frog is nocturnal. Schedule a night hike to see a variety of species.

Species: red-eyed tree frog


Big Five Animals of Costa Rica

Dolphins can be found in Costa Rica all along the Pacific and Southern Caribbean Coasts. While you won’t be able to swim with these friendly creatures, you can observe them up and down the Pacific Coast. Taking a coastal tour between November and May will increase your chances of spotting them, as this is when they come to breed. Keep an eye out for whales near Playa Uvita, and down on the Osa Peninsula!

Species: bottle nosed dolphin, spotted dolphin, rough-toothed dolphin, spinner dolphin, common dolphin

Can’t get enough of Costa Rica wildlife? Plan your own nature safari!

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