The rainforests of Costa Rica are home to nearly 100 species of trees. Giant versions of orchids, as well as the expected sloths, monkeys, and copious birds, can be found while venturing into the Costa Rica rainforest depths. Visit the untouched, remote rainforests on the Osa Peninsula, or explore the forests Manuel Antonio. Whether your fascination with nature stems from a love of quetzals, coatis, or sloths, the rainforests of Costa Rica are a tempting area for exploration for both the professional scientist and the wide-eyed child.
What exactly is a Rainforest?
A rainforest is a tropical forest. It’s a dense area of tall trees that receives heavy year-round rainfall – typically at least 100 inches (254 centimeters). The tall trees block out much of the sunlight, preventing heavy undergrowth as is found in a jungle. The canopy provides a high home for many birds and animals!
5 Best Costa Rica Rainforest Destinations
The rainforests of Costa Rica are among some of the most productive ecosystems of the world. Biologists recognize at least 13 different types of rainforest in the world. Each has a unique habitat, with creatures and microclimates all their own. The following are some of our Expert recommended rainforest experiences:
Corcovado National Park
Probably the most remote and pristine rainforest experience in Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park accumulates more than 200 inches of rainfall each year. The park is located on the rugged and remote Osa Peninsula. You have the best chances of spotting the most elusive and endangered wildlife here. Tapirs, tanagers, spider monkeys, scarlet macaws, harpy eagles, and wild cats are just a few of the rainforest dwellers down here.
Piedras Blancas National Park
On the other side of the Golfo Dulce from the Osa Peninsula sits Piedras Blancas National Park, a wild and untouched paradise set far off the beaten path and less frequently visited than Corcovado National Park. This remote rainforest is a must for adventurous spirits looking to get off the grid and reconnect with nature. The park was once part of Corcovado National Park, but much was destroyed due to private deforestation projects in the 90’s. Since then, what is now Piedras Blancas has been turned over for public use resulting in two separate parks. The park is home to some of the last remaining jaguars and four other wild cats such as the puma, ocelot, margay, and jaguarundi. Other animals include coatis, toucans, scarlet macaws, anteaters, sloths, spider monkeys, and the white-faced capuchin monkey.
Manuel Antonio National Park
One of the most popular and easily accessible rainforest experiences in the country is Manuel Antonio National Park. This celebrated little rainforest is buzzing with people and animals alike. You can pretty much count on seeing monkeys. In fact, they’ll probably come to you! In addition to lush vegetation, Manuel Antonio boasts stunning coastal views.
Cahuita National Park
On the Southern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica, Cahuita National Park protects coral reefs and the beaches and lowland tropical rainforest behind them. There is a trail running behind the beach alongside the seashore that is perfect for hiking, wildlife exploration, and views. The trail is about 5.6 miles in total out to Puerto Vargas at the southern end of the park If you’re one for snorkeling, we recommend the 2.35-mile trek to Punta Cahuita for incredible snorkeling and white sand beaches. The very best snorkeling can be arranged on a guided tour.
Carara National Park
Carara National Park is considered the most northern rainforest on the Pacific Coast. The park is home to a large population of scarlet macaws and many other tropical birds, which draws in birding and wildlife enthusiasts. Another popular attraction of the park is the Crocodile Bridge where tourists can look over and see wild crocodiles in their native homes. Both the two and three-toed sloth can be found in the park. There are two trails within the park: the 2.7-mile Laguna Meandrica Trail and the 0.6-mile Araceas Nature Trail. The park is one of the most easily accessible rainforest experiences, making it a great rainforest day trip excursion for travelers staying on or near the Central Pacific Coast and San Jose area.
Costa Rica Rainforest Animals
Costa Rica occupies a unique location, where the Southern and Northern American continents connect. Thanks to this, animal species from both continents mingle and mix in a way seen nowhere else in the world. Costa Rica has the highest density of biodiversity of any country – over 4% of the world’s species can be found here, and hundreds of those species are only in Costa Rica. Learn more about Costa Rica animals.
Colorful flora is truly what gives a tropical destination its aura of fun! If you think that the wildlife run rampant in this country, just wait till you see the plants – Costa Rica has over 10,000 species of vascular plants, with more and more added every year! If you love orchids, you’ll find many in the country that can be seen nowhere else in the world. Costa Rica has an amazing wealth of tropical flowers and other plants, including huge numbers of orchid and bromeliad species. Ask your guide to point out the Guanacaste tree – it gave its name to the Guanacaste province and is the national tree of Costa Rica.
Tours in the rainforests of Costa Rica come in a variety of forms. Near Manuel Antonio, venture through the trees via hiking, horseback riding, the canopy zip lines, and more! Head to Isla Damas, and you’ll find kayaking, canoeing, and safari float trips. Whitewater rafting through untouched wilderness can be exciting, and birdwatchers will delight in the variety no matter what tour they pick! There are Costa Rica rainforest tours for every age and inclination. Ask a Costa Rica Expert what will work best for you based on your destinations and travel preferences.