Costa Rica

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Costa Rica’s extensive system of 25 national parks, along with a plethora of other public and private nature reserves, is its tourism trump card. Ticos take pride in sharing these national treasures, which shield and protect local wildlife and vegetation. Manuel Antonio, Arenal, Poas, and Tortuguero grab the lion’s share of attention, but less popular parks have their own appeal.

Costa Rica National Parks

Barra Honda

Deep limestone caverns – some open to the public for spelunking – are the main attraction at Barra Honda, which also offers hiking and camping.

Main gate near villages of Barra Honda and Nacaome, Guanacaste & Nicoya Peninsula, 011-506-2666-0630,
Tags: hiking | editor pick | adventure | national park


This park on southern Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is a day at the beach. Picnicking, hiking, swimming, and camping are permitted near the beach; scuba and snorkeling excursions to protected offshore reefs are also available.

Main gate near town of Cahuita, Limon & the Caribbean Coast, 011-506-2758-3170,
Tags: beach | hiking | adventure | diving | national park


Visitors can climb from the base camp at San Gerardo de Rivas to the highest point in Costa Rica, 12,532-foot-high Mount Chirripo. No mountain-climbing expertise is required, but the 30-mile trek can take three days!   

Ranger station; San Gerardo de Rivas, Central Valley and Highlands, 011-506-2771-5116,
Tags: hiking | outdoors | adventure | national park

Palo Verde

A birdwatchers’ paradise, this dry rainforest, mangrove, and wetland park in Guanacaste hosts both native Costa Rican and migrating North American birds. The Organization for Tropical Studies operates a “biological station” here with lodging, meals, and tours (011-506-2524-0607).

The Organization for Tropical Studies, Main gate near town of Bagaces, Guanacaste & Nicoya Penin, 011-506-666-0630,
Tags: editor pick | outdoors | wildlife | national park

Rincon de la Vieja

Attractions here include the active Rincon de la Vieja volcano, dormant sister cones Santa Maria and Cerro Von Seebach, and thermal mud pools, waterfall lagoons, and freshwater lakes.               

Northeast of Liberia, Guanacaste & Nicolya Peninsula, 011-506-666-0630,
Tags: editor pick | outdoors | swimming | national park


Although technically dormant since 1868, the three-coned volcano at Turrialba, 40 miles east of San Jose, still belches sulfuric steam from fumarole fissures. A well-marked hiking trail leads from the park café to a scenic overlook.

Main gate near village of La Pastora, Central Valley and Highland,
Tags: hiking | outdoors | adventure | national park

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