Costa Rica is home to 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity, and it’s impossible to vacation here and not have a unique experience with one of Costa Rica’s incredible animals. Manuel Antonio National Park, Marino Ballena National Park, and Corcovado National Park are among some of the many beautiful locations for viewing wildlife in Costa Rica.
Whether you witness the acrobatics of a great humpback whale at Marino Ballena National Park, experience a 300 pound sea turtle moseying across your path while strolling on one of Costa Rica’s pristine beaches, or see a Howler Monkey roaring at you while exploring the Nicoya Peninsula, you are bound to encounter a number of Costa Rica’s wild animals during your visit.
Monkeys are perhaps the most sought after animal to come across in the wild. Luckily, they can be found all over Costa Rica with four different species of monkeys found among the thriving rainforests. When looking out for these adorable animals, here are some fun facts to help you identify them:
• The White-throated Capuchin Monkey: Identified by its dark brown and black fur, and white face, these monkeys live in groups and can get aggressive when defending their territory. Don’t get in the way of their bananas – they love them so much they believe they are the righteous owners of every banana in the world!
• The Squirrel Monkey: Identified by their unique white and black face with a beautiful orange back, these monkeys are the smallest of the Costa Rican monkey species!
• The Howler Monkey: Identified by their loud roar, these monkeys are actually the loudest animal in the world!
• The Spider Monkey: Identified by their long bodies and interesting tails, these monkeys are the most intelligent monkey species in Costa Rica. They are friendly with Capuchins, that is until food is scarce…then they become enemies.
While you are peering into the trees trying to spot one of these interesting monkeys, you may come across a slow moving animal called a Three-toed Sloth. They never leave the trees, always move very slow, and mainly just bask in the sun all day long. They will only move from tree to tree once every 1 – 2 days.
In addition to the monkeys and sloths, Costa Rica is a bird watchers paradise, with over 800 different avian species. Many rare and exotic birds can be glimpsed in this spectacular region. The Resplendent Quetzal, Great Green Macaw, and Chestnut-mandible Toucan all make spectacular appearances. Other incredible flying creatures include butterflies, and interesting insects, which are a great part of the wildlife in Costa Rica. Some local museums have collections of butterflies and other fascinating insects.
Anteaters, another beautiful Costa Rican animal, can be found on the ground or hanging upside down on low branches — they have fierce claws to rip open the nests of termites. The Tapir, another interesting animal, is an unusual creature and has a rare appearance that mixes the look of an elephant, rhino and pig. Six endangered cat species live in Costa Rica. They are rarely seen and maybe that’s a good thing — as dangerous as they are, not many people want to stumble across a puma or a jaguar!
Even with all the interesting land animals, you won’t want to miss out on the Costa Rican marine life. Costa Rica’s equatorial land is an attractive destination for migrating sea mammals, and more than 20 different species of whales and dolphins find their way to Costa Rican waters. With two oceans and various rivers and lakes, the opportunity to spot stunning marine life is endless. There are numerous boat tours, and water sports that will help you get an intimate look at these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. And if you are brave enough, you can even try scuba diving with sharks!