Nature Reserves

Nature Reserves in Costa Rica, Nicoya Peninsula

» Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve

Located on the very tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, Cabo Blanco is the oldest protected area of Costa Rica. A 4.5 km trails leads through old-growth, moist tropical forest to the gorgeous white-sand beach of Playa Cabo Blanco.

» Curu Wildlife Refuge

A small private reserve with a wealth of wildlife. Animals are easily seen at the ranger station or on the reserve’s many trails through the jungle. The picturesque bay of Curu is great for bathing. Also tours to Tortuga Islands, with snorkeling and diving.

» Ostional Wildlife Refuge

One of the most spectacular nature phenomenas of Costa Rica are the mass nestings of olive ridley sea turtles on the beach of Ostional. These mass nestings take place a few days before the new moon and are the most numerous during rainy season.

» Las Baulas National Park

North of Tamarindo, Playa Grande protects an important nesting site of the rare leatherback sea turtle, the world’s biggest reptile. Leatherback sea turtles are in severe danger of extinction. The largest part of the national park is offshore.

» Barra Honda National Park

A huge limestone hill in the Tempisque valley presents an extensive cave system with a multitude of capricious forms and figures. Guided spelunker tours descend the intricate Terciopelo cave to a depth of 60 m below surface.

» Palo Verde National Park

In Costa Rica’s driest and hottest region the flood plains of the Tempisque river are a hotspot for
migratory and local birds
species. Palo Verde harbors Central Americas largest concentration of migratory aquatic birds and a great variety of mammals and insects.

» Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve

Off the main tourist drag, in the mountains of the southern Nicoya Peninsula, this small reserve abounds with rivers, waterfalls and animal life. Guided tours by foot or horseback to the reserve’s lodge in the hills where various trails can be hiked.

» Monte Alto Nature Reserve

Another small reserve in the mountains near the town of Nicoya. Moist, mountainous forest with lots of animals. Various trails one of them is the easy-to-walk orchid trail showing an amazing display of local orchids. Easy to reach from Samara or Nicoya.

» Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge

The estuary of the Tamarindo river protects the mangrove forest and wildlife. Guided tours by boat can be arranged in Tamarindo

» Nosara Biological Reserve

A small private nature reserve on the southern side of the Rio Nosara. Self-guided or guided tours through the tropical dry forest and the Nosara estuary.

Seeing animals in the wild:

Unless you are an experienced nature observer it is difficult to see animals in the wild. Most animals are very shy and flee from humans. A good strategy for seeing wildlife is to patiently sit by a river, making no noise at all. Dawn or late afternoon hours bear better chances to spot animals.

Small zoos and animal shelters:

La Selva is a privately maintained animal shelter near Carrillo, Samara. On last visit there was a baby armadillo, coatis, crocodiles, bats, an agouti, porcupine, margay cat, jaguarundis, parrots and turtles.

Las Pumas is an animal rescue center for wildcats and a few other mammals and birds. The elusive jaguar can be seen, same as pumas, jaguarundis, margay cats and ocelots. Located – not on the Nicoya Peninsula – on the Interamericana, 5 km north of Cañas.

See also: Animals of Costa Rica