8 Costa Rica Natural Mysteries You Have to See to Believe

Nature is amazing. Beaches and tropical forests are really something of course, but there are some places in the world that just leave you wondering, “How can this be?”.  Costa Rica has several such places. These mysteries of nature are perplexing and, we believe, really should be seen to be believed.

The Sea Turtle Arribada, Nicoya Peninsula

8 Costa Rica Natural Mysteries You Have to See to Believe

Arribada at Ostional Wildlife Refuge as photographed by Thomas P. Peschak of National Geographic (also pictured above).

A fiercely protected natural wonder, the arribada is the annual arrival of hundreds of thousands of sea turtles at various nesting sites throughout the country to lay their eggs under the new moon. The curious thing about this is that the turtles return to the exact same beaches year after year to participate in this ritual via their inner compass. The arribada occurs at only 9 locations around the world. One of the most famous locations for this is within Ostional Wildlife Refuge in the north of Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Please note: Sea turtle sites in Costa Rica requires visits at authorized access points with a professional guide in order to protect both the turtles and this important natural phenomenon. Please plan accordingly with the help of a Costa Rica Expert.

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

Whale Breeding Grounds in the Golfo Dulce, Osa Peninsula

Whales in the Golfo Dulce

Photograph from Lapa Rios Ecolodge

Akin to the annual arrival of sea turtles, the humpback whales return each year to the shallow protected waters of the Golfo Dulce between the Osa Peninsula and Piedras Blancas National Park. It is here that they come to breed and raise their young until the baby whale is strong enough for the long trip back to colder water-feeding grounds. The Gulfo Dulce is a critical habitat that comes to life with migrating humpback whales beginning in August. It is also one of the few places in the world where you can find migrating humpback whales from both hemispheres.

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

Whale’s Tail Sandbar, Uvita

Natural Mysteries of Costa Rica

Another whale wonder is the whale’s tail sandbar. This sandbar is shaped in the form of a whale’s tail. Miraculous! In low tide, it is particularly visible as it juts out into the sea for visitors to walk out and explore. The most head-scratching bit? It is highly trafficked by whales.

Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula

Costa Rica Mysteries of Nature

The translucent abdomen of the glass frog photographed @juansanabria_photo

Famously dubbed “the most biologically intense place on earth” by National Geographic, Corcovado National Park is astounding in its level of biodiversity. The forms of life out there, that many of us don’t even know exist, are miraculous to behold. Yes, you can find big cats and endangered wildlife, but you may also find obscure creatures like the giant anteater, fishing bats, or glass frogs.

Bioluminescence Tour, Isla Chiquita

If you are privileged enough to visit the Gulf of Nicoya on a moonless night, you can experience the magic that is the bioluminescence tour. Basically, as you are cruising along on the sea in the black of night, the water around your starts glowing in blue-green hues at the touch points as you move through the water. You have to watch the video to understand what I’m talking about here. Amazing! How does this work? The scientific answer is that the water is so densely populated by light-emitting plankton, microscopic organisms that react to movement in the water – forming a chemical reaction, that it creates these flashes of blue and green. Not your everyday night tour!

Rio Celeste, Tenorio Volcano National Park

Rio Celeste Waterfall @_sophwhite

Rio Celeste Waterfall @_sophwhite

Another water wonder is Rio Celeste, specifically its brilliant blue hue. It’s so unique that it attracts travelers from near and far! The color emerges as two clear rivers meet and a mineral coated in oxygen, silicon, and aluminum remains suspended in the river. When the mineral is present in larger than 566 nm (as they are in Rio Celeste), you get this electric blue hue. It’s simply striking the way the turquoise water pops against the deep green jungle backdrop. You do have to do a fairly strenuous hike to get there, but if you’re in decent shape, it’s worth it!

Volcano-heated Thermal Springs, Arenal Volcano

Tabacon Thermal Springs via @katiansasha

Tabacon Thermal Springs via @katiansasha

Think Jacuzzi, but au naturel. The naturally-occurring thermal springs at Arenal Volcano are a hot attraction for those visiting the area. In fact, the springs are heated by the volcano itself. The Arenal Volcano is currently in a resting phase, but the magma is still close enough to the earth’s surface that it comes in contact with groundwater and keeps the thermal springs warm.

Tarcoles Crocodile Bridge, Central Pacific Coast

Tarcoles via @sonnparis

🐊🐊 Wild crocs! A look out over Tarcoles River, one of the most populous #crocodile rivers in the world! 📸: @sonnparis!

On the way to the Central Pacific Coast, you don’t want to miss the mass gathering of crocodiles at Tarcoles Bridge. Get out, stretch out your legs, and peer over the bridge at the astounding number of American crocodiles right below you. The river itself is said to have the largest population of crocodiles in the world – and they are huge!

Nature is remarkable. It’s easy to forget the vastness of our world while tide up a cubicle. So get out there! We can help.

Let’s get started planning your trip or feel free to browse our vacation packages.

Please note: I am no scientist (although all these intriguing natural processes may convert me). If there is a better way of explaining what I have detailed, please let me know and I will happily update our readers! 🙂

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