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Capuchin monkey with young in Costa Rica

Wildlife of Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches and adventure activities. There’s always something to do whether it's ziplining, kayaking, hiking in the jungle or snorkeling. Yet this paradise is also the place to witness and get close to the most incredible local wildlife. 

For those who can’t get enough of seeing amazing animals in their natural habitat, Costa Rica does not disappoint. Whether it's on a safari journey into the rainforest or with a tour of one of the 28 national parks, visitors can be on the lookout for several creatures such as monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, lizards, snakes, turtles, dolphins, as well as several species of birds. 

Here are some of the most captivating wildlife to be found in Costa Rica:

A baby three-toed sloth at a preserve in Costa Rica
A baby three-toed sloth at a preserve in Costa Rica


These famously slow animals have a tendency to camouflage themselves to the landscape. Costa Rica is home to both the three-toed and the two-toed sloths. Like howler monkeys, sloths are also prone to stay up in the canopy of the rainforest yet they’re also great swimmers. 


A couple different species of these exotic birds, which can be spotted by their large brightly colored beaks, are found throughout Costa Rica. Toucans can be seen in the jungle, dry forests, and cloud forest. Unlike the previously mentioned animals, these birds can be spotted due to their curious beaks throughout reserves and national parks. 


Visitors to the country of Costa Rica will be sure to find several kinds of dolphins gliding through the pristine waters of the Pacific or Caribbean. The most common species of dolphins to be found in the region are bottlenose and spinners, The first, which usually stay in the shallows, are very social and tend to draw crowds. Spinners will make a show wherever they’re found and they show off by spinning and jumping out of the water. 

Family trip
Family trip

Howler Monkeys

These primates can be noticed for their unique guttural calls, which reverberate through the jungle. Howler monkeys can be found swinging about in the trees, using their long tails to grab a hold of branches. These creatures are part of the balance of the ecosystem, as they disperse seeds through the forest. Several parks and reserves are dedicated to protecting their population from urbanization and poaching. 

Sea Turtles

Among the many reserves and national parks, many are dedicated solely to the protection of sea turtles. Depending on the season, visitors might get the chance to see turtles nesting or even the hatchlings make their way to the water. Among the different types of sea turtles to be seen there are the green sea turtles, hawksbills, leatherbacks, or the smallest ones called Olive Ridley. 

Capuchin Monkeys

This type of monkey are resourceful creatures which can be seen using tools to catch lizards and insects or crack open nuts and fruits.

Discover The Birds of Costa Rica
Discover The Birds of Costa Rica


There are two species of crocodiles that are native to Costa Rica, the American crocodile and the Morelet’s crocodile. The former being found in both saltwater and freshwater coastlines and mangrove swamps. The latter is smaller and inhabits rivers, swamps, and lagoons in northern Costa Rica. 


There are several species of these large fish roaming Costa Rican waters. Adventurers can book scuba diving tours specifically to encounter them up close, or choose to go snorkeling and find some of them. Among the different kinds of sharks in Costa Rica, the most common are bull sharks, tiger sharks, nurse sharks, blacktip, and whitetip sharks.


Avid snorkelers will revel in the chance to see incredibly diverse underwater wildlife with several kinds of fish. Among the variety divers might find swimming in the Pacific or Caribbean waters are Angelfish, Parrotfish, Damselfish, Triggerfish, and Pufferfish.


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