There are around 830 species of birds including large varieties of hummingbird, toucans, parrots, egrets and spoonbills. Being such a small country, this is huge number of species and makes birding a great experience for enthusiasts and beginners alike. Head to Monteverde Cloud Forest in the north where one can spot almost half of the whole species found in Costa Rica (as well as mammals and reptiles). The Quetzal is the national bird of Costa Rica and is fabulously bright green, so lookout for it!
Up on the northwest Pacific Coastline, you will find Tortuga National Park. The clue is in the name but this is where Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs between July and October. However, there is more to this area with a network of canals and mangroves to explore by kayaks and small motorboats. Be warned, there is a high chance you’ll be caught in the rain as it is the wettest part of Costa Rica, but what you see more than makes up for it.
The lungs of the earth! A quarter of Costa Rica is made up of forests and are categorised as tropical rainforest, tropical dry forest and cloud forests. Each a unique ecosystem and within these, below the towering trees, smaller biomes of extraordinary life are found. 10,000 species of plants and trees, fascinating mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds and insects. The best ways to explore is on foot with a private guide or a leisurely ride on the network of rivers. For birders, canopy trails gets you closer to action.
There are five active volcanoes in Costa Rica, mainly up in the north and the central highlands, although there are volcanic formations throughout the country. The volcanic activity produces natural thermal springs as well as fertile soil that the flora, fauna and wildlife thrive off. Arenal is the most well known, but don’t miss Poas Volcano with Laguna Caliente, an aquamarine crater lake bright turquoise and one of the most acidic lakes in the world. Activities around the volcanoes include horse-riding, white-water rafting, fishing, kayaking and swimming.
Being positioned between the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans, there are infinite numbers of water-sports on offer. From kite surfing and diving, to paddle-boarding and snorkelling, there is something for everyone. Head to the Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast for the best surfing and the south of the Pacific Coast for more secluded beaches. Be warned that the two coasts have apposing climates. Visit the Pacific Coast December – April and the Caribbean Coast June – October for the best weather.