Costa Rica | A guide to everything Costa Rica

Costa Rica Parks and Reserves

Preserving Natural Riches

Costa Rica has officially protected 26% of its territory. In fact, there are 161 parks & refuges in this country! The awe-inspiring sights and fantastical sounds that abound in these natural areas are by far the most magnetic attractions for visitors to this Central American paradise.

Every ecological area has something uniquely different to offer, astonishing landscape diversity with a wealth of tropical flora, pristine beaches, amazingly colorful wildlife and serenely pictorial views. Within the same small country, experience both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean coastlines. Witness an active volcano, trek the rainforests and stand in the mist of mountainous cloud forest. Costa Rica is biologically intense and beautiful.

Calling all nature lovers. Costa Rica boasts 25 National Parks, 8 Biological Reserves, 58 Wildlife Refuges, 11 Forest Reserves, 15 Wetlands & Mangroves and 32 Protected Zones! These bio-rich national treasures are overseen and managed by the country's Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE). And it is held in the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC).

Below you will find the list of National Parks, plus other popular conservation areas worth visiting while you are in Costa Rica:


Arenal Volcano National Park* — Arenal is the most active volcano in Costa Rica
Barbilla National Park — historical home of indigenous Cabecar people
Barra Honda National Park* — known for magnificent limestone caves
Braulio Carrillo National Park* — several dormant volcanoes
Cahuita National Park* — beaches and coral reefs
Carara National Park — one of the largest populations of wild Scarlet macaws in C.R.
Chirripó National Park* — Chirripo is the highest peak in Costa Rica
Cocos Island National Park — a place to scuba dive with pelagic species
Corcovado National Park* — "the most biologically intense place on earth"
Diria National Park — there is a bunkhouse cabin for up to 25 people (study groups)
Guanacaste National Park* — the largest swathe of tropical dry rainforest
Irazú Volcano National Park* — active Irazu volcano with small eruptions
Juan Castro Blanco National Park — Aguas Zarcas Group: 9 ancient cinder cones
La Amistad International Park* — recognized as a world biosphere project
La Cangreja National Park — Costa Rica's newest National Park, created in 2002
Manuel Antonio National Park* — popular destination for beaches and wildlife
Palo Verde National Park* — a tropical bird watcher's haven including Jabiru stork
Piedras Blancas National Park* — rugged mountains, river basins, rainforest and sea
Poás Volcano National Park* — most visited park in all of Costa Rica
Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park* — has hot springs & mineral baths
Santa Rosa National Park — divided into several distinct sectors
Tapantí National Park* — birder's may see the Resplendant quetzal here
Tenorio Volcano National Park — Rio Celeste runs unique pale blue water
Tortuguero National Park* — sea turtle conservation program area
Turrialba Volcano National Park* — the largest volcanic craters are here


Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve — Costa Rica's famed Cloud Forest region
Ostional Wildlife Refuge — arribada site: mass nesting of Olive Ridley sea turtle
Las Baulas National Marine Park — Leatherback sea turtle nesting area
Gandoca Manzanillos Wildlife Reserve — protects numerous endangered species
Centro Neotropica Sarapiquis — conserves an ancient indigenous village
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge — protects 4 species of monkey in the Northern Plains
La Paz Waterfalls & Gardens — magnificent tropical flowers & lush falling water


For a complete list of parks & refuges in Costa Rica, trail maps, driving directions, facilities, ranger stations and details about which human activities are allowed in each area, visit Costa Rica National Parks.

Or contact:
National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC)
De la Casa Italia, 250 metros al sur,
frente al Laboratorio JR Sánchez. San José
Costa Rica