Wildlife Viewing in Costa Rica

With seemingly endless opportunities for wildlife viewing in Costa Rica, it's only fitting to tackle this topic by the wildlife you want to view.  If you've got your heart set on seeing a Scarlet Macaw or a Blue Morpho butterfly, you'll need to know where to go...and although this isn't intended to be a complete list of wildlife in Costa Rica, we hope it's a good starting point ;)  Be sure to bring your digital camera as you won't want to miss any photo ops!

Baird's Tapir

With an estimated 5,000 wild tapirs left in the world, spotting one of these guys is definitely something to celebrate!  They look like a cross between a hippopotamus, anteater and a pig while reaching up to 1.2 metres in height, 2 metres in length and can weigh from 150 to 400 kilos.  The cute little babies are born with spots and stripes that disappear as they get older.  Where to find Baird's Tapir in Costa Rica: Parque Nacional Corcovado.

Blue Morpho Butterfly

You really can't imagine how beautiful the iridescent electric Blue Morpho Butterfly is until you've caught a glimpse of one as it erratically flutters by.  The Blue Morpho Butterfly lives in the rain forests of Costa Rica and has a lifespan of 115 days from birth to death so it's another species that thrills any visitor to Costa Rica.
Where to find Blue Morpho Butterfly in Costa Rica: Arenal Volcano, Rainforest Aerial Tram in Jaco, Butterfly Conservatory near Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Corcovado National Park


Coatimundi (or coati) are agile little mammals reminiscent of an aardvark crossed with a ring-tailed racoon.  Coatis can weigh up to 8 kilos, 1.75 metres in length and are carnivores with sharp canine teeth.  In the wild, they live approximately 8 years but can live up to 15 years in captivity. 
Where to find Coatis in Costa Rica:  Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Humpback Whales

Migrating from the Pacific Northwest, Humpback Whales can be spotted along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica from December to April and then again from July to September.  Whale watching tours can range from 3 to 4 hours in duration which can include time for snorkelling along the way.  Humpback whales range up to 16 metres in length and can weigh as much as 36,000 kilos.
Where to find Humpback Whales in Costa Rica: along the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park, Sirena Biological Station and Marino Ballena National Park


Found in the jungles and rainforests in Costa Rica, a jaguar spotting is just about as elusive as spotting a Bair's Tapir.  This exotic animal of prey has been relentlessly hunted for years, to the point of being labelled a near threatened species.  
Where to find Jaguar in Costa Rica:  Parque Internacional La Amistad and the Jaguar Rescue Center in Playa Chiquita where you can volunteer (minimum of 3 weeks).

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Just under an hour from our condo in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica, you'll be able to find Leatherback Sea Turtles - one of the oldest and largest mammals known to mankind.  Growing to be as long as 2.2 metres and weighing up to 700 kilos, Leatherback Sea Turtles have a reported lifespan ranging from 30 to 80 years.  They nest along Costa Rica's Pacific coast from September to March.
Where to find Leatherback Sea Turtles in Costa Rica:  Playa Grande

Scarlet Macaw

Easy to spot with their bright red, yellow and blue plumage, Scarlet Macaws are parrots native to tropical Central and South America.  Adult Scarlet Macaws have a wing span of approximately .47 metres while weighing 1 kilo; they live anywhere from 40 to 75 years.  Be sure to bring a pair of binoculars to get up close & personal with these beautiful birds.
Where to find Scarlet Macaws in Costa Rica:  Parque Nacional Carara

Squirrel Monkey

With their inquisitive nature and white & black masked face, Squirrel Monkeys are one of Costa Rica's vulnerable species.  Reaching .29 metres in length (not including their tail), Squirrel Monkeys weigh up to .95 kilos and can live 20 years.  Sporting black or grey-crowned heads, female Squirrel Monkeys generally have darker heads overall.
Where to find Squirrel Monkeys in Costa Rica:  Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

For more information on other activities to enjoy in Costa Rica, check out Things to do in Playas del Coco.

Ed & Connie


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