Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Central Pacific
Jaco is a lively beach town known for its water sports and party atmosphere. Located on some of Costa Rica’s most developed coastline, within two hours of the capital, it’s a favorite escape for San José residents, as well as backpackers, snowbirds, and North American retirees.
A postcard-perfect paradise of white-sand beaches, swaying coconut palms, and sapphire-blue water rife with marine life, Tortuga Island (Isla Tortuga) is an ideal spot to swim, snorkel, or bask in the sunshine. The island is only accessible from Costa Rica’s main cities via a scenic boat ride across the Gulf of Nicoya—an extra perk for your vacation.
Brimming with lush forest, wildlife, and waterfalls, Rainmaker Park provides a quieter alternative to the often-crowded Manuel Antonio National Park. As well as being home to animals such as dart frogs, snakes, and butterflies, the off-the-beaten-path attraction offers great forest views from a set of swinging bridges.
The cloud forest of Curi-Cancha Reserve creates a habitat for flora and fauna such as colorful quetzals and monkeys. Visitors can explore the private reserve via several nature trails. Plus, the private reserve’s daily 50 person cap means you’ll see more wildlife without having to battle the crowds.
Selvatura Park is a popular nature-adventure park in the cloud forests of Costa Rica. Located just outside Monteverde, the park contains over 850 acres (344 hectares) of ecologically diverse forest. Attractions include zipline and suspension bridge tours, hummingbird and butterfly gardens, natural history walks, and reptile exhibitions.
Brimming with wildlife, orchids, and ferns, the Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena (Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve) is consistently covered in tree-level clouds, which result in the rich biodiversity that sets this forest apart from others. The reserve spans mountains, valleys, and rivers, and offers many wildlife-watching opportunities.
Located north of Jaco along the Pacific coast, Carara National Park is at the confluence of two important ecosystems—the steamy jungle of the southern coast and the dry tropical forest of Guanacaste. Walk along easy trails to spot outstanding wildlife including 400 bird species, sloths, capuchin monkeys, anteaters, parrots, and most notably, huge populations of scarlet macaws and crocodiles.
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary provides veterinary care and rehabilitation for injured animals and gives visitors the chance to see native wildlife up-close in a controlled environment. The centre is dedicated to releasing animals back into their natural habitats whenever possible but also provides lifelong care when needed.
If you’re cruising to Costa Rica, you’ll almost certainly dock at the Puntarenas Cruise Port, the ideal jumping-off point for day-long excursions along the country's Pacific Ocean Coast. Explore the rain and cloud forests around Monteverde, or visit Poas Volcano and Carara national parks from this major Costa Rican cruise port.
The Children’s Eternal Rainforest (Bosque Eterno de los Niños) is Costa Rica’s largest private reserve, purchased by children from 44-plus countries in a collaboration to preserve the rainforest. Visitors come to hike and see native wildlife in the park, which stretches across mountains and valleys between Arenal National Park and Monteverde.
More Things to Do in Central Pacific
Home to around 100 bats from 8 different native species, the enclosed Bat Jungle replicates the conditions of a cloud forest at night. While bats can be difficult to observe in the wild, this exhibit lets you see bats eating, interacting, and caring for their young. A tour gives visitors further insight into these mysterious nocturnal creatures.
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls boast nature trails, streams, and views of the tallest waterfall in Costa Rica. After exploring orchid gardens and watching toucans flying overhead, you can enjoy an al fresco meal on the patio.
- Things to do in Jaco
- Things to do in Puntarenas
- Things to do in Monteverde
- Things to do in Quepos
- Things to do in Central Valley
- Things to do in Guanacaste and Northwest
- Things to do in Caribbean Coast
- Things to do in San Jose
- Things to do in Sámara
- Things to do in Santa Cruz
- Things to do in Pacific Highlands
- Things to do in Central Highlands
- Things to do in Western Highlands
- Things to do in The Cayes