Costa Rica is a country of incredible biodiversity, and is home to a stunning variety of wildlife and ecosystems, making it the perfect holiday destination for wildlife lovers.
With cloud, mangrove and rainforests, active volcanoes, pristine coastal areas making up just a few of the twelve climatic zones, this tiny country is home to over half a million species, which is the equivalent to around 4% of all species on the planet.
When you take into account how small Costa Rica is, it makes it the country with the highest density of diversity in the world. It’s thought that it gets it great biodiversity due to when the land bridge between North and South America was formed, and a wide variety of plant and animal life combined and found specific niches in Costa Rica’s unique climates.
So with all that in mind, here is a list of some of the best wildlife you can go searching for in the wilds of Costa Rica, as well as where and when you can see them.
1. Leatherback Turtles
Every year, thousands of visitors flock to Costa Rica for a wildlife holiday based around spotting the magnificent leatherback turtle. If you think you know how large these creatures can get, think again, because these beasts can measure up to 6 feet in length and weigh as much as 650kg.
To witness them make their way along the golden sands of Costa Rica’s beaches into the ocean is a magical sight, and the place to see this phenomenon is in Las Baulas National Marine Park, situated on the northwest Pacific coast.
Costa Rica boasts five of the seven sea turtle species in the world, including the incredibly rare Olive Ridley Turtle, which nests on around five beaches in the world. Hotspots for seeing other turtles include Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast, and Santa Rosa National Park, also on the north-west Pacific Coast.
2. Humpback Whales
Sticking with marine life for now, whale watching in Costa Rica is some of the most reliable in the world, with your chances incredibly good, almost guaranteed, of a sighting if you visit the south Pacific in the months of August and September.
The three types of humpback whales most commonly spotted off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast are Antarctic Humpback Whales, North Atlantic St Lawrence Humpback Whales and California Humpback Whales, which generally travel from South America northwards in the summer months to breed and raise their offspring.
Other whales you can spot off the coast of Costa Rica, if you’re lucky, are pilot whales and the world’s largest animal, the majestic Blue Whale. With tours running off the Pacific Coast year-round, always make sure you find the most sustainable options you can, that take into the account the safety and wellbeing of the whales.