Costa Rica, home to an incredible 850 different bird species, is a bird-watcher’s paradise. From the tropical rain forests of the Nicoya Peninsula to the mountaintop cloud forests around San Jose and the sun-soaked jungle along the Caribbean Coast, here are the best places for birding tours in Costa Rica.
Monteverde Cloud Forest
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a popular choice for day trips from San Jose and La Fortuna, and a range of hiking trails, canopy tours, and guided bird-watching tours are available. There are over 365 species to spot, including resplendent quetzals, toucans, and hummingbirds.
Braulio Carrillo National Park
Ride an aerial tram through the jungle and hike along the Corinto River in the Braulio Carrillo National Park, spotting colorful birds with the help of an expert guide all along the way. Keep an eye out for rarely sighted species such as the bare-necked umbrellabird, the black-crowned antpitta, and the nightingale wren.
Carara National Park
Another popular day trip from San Jose, Carara National Park is known not only for its crocodiles—it’s also home to the largest population of scarlet macaws in Costa Rica. Cruise along the Tarcoles River and look out for jacamars, trogons, and three-wattled bellbirds while gliding through the mangrove forests.
Palo Verde National Park
Part of the Tempisque Conservation Area in Guanacaste province, the mangrove swamps, grasslands, and lagoons of the Palo Verde National Park are a breeding ground for migratory birds and waterbirds, including the black-bellied whistling duck and the blue-winged teal. The best way to explore is on a wildlife cruise along the Tempisque River, where wildlife sightings also include monkeys, crocodiles, and iguanas.
Tortuguero National Park
More than 330 bird species have been identified in the Tortuguero National Park, which for good reason tops the itinerary for bird-watchers exploring Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast. Grab your binoculars and look out for green macaws, kingfishers, warblers, and the rare roseate spoonbill.