With so many world-class natural wonders, it can be hard to know where to begin in Costa Rica. Here’s our pick of its greatest parks.
1. Arenal Volcano National Park
Costa Rica’s most active volcano is a chance to see the power of eruptions for both destroying and nurturing life: a riot of vegetation thrives on the ash thrown out by the 1968 eruption.
2. Ballena Marine National Park
Named for the great pods of humpback whales that migrate here every year, this region of pristine reefs, paradise beaches and endless mangrove forests offers more than just whale-watching.
3. Cahuita National Park
This is one of Costa Rica’s secret spots, with amazing coastal trekking and abundant wildlife that might be second only to Corcovado.
4. Cocos Island National Park
This is the largest uninhabited island on the planet. It is a genuine lost world that is home to at least 60 species that can be found nowhere else.
5. Corcovado National Park
If you have any doubts that Costa Rican parks can compete with an African safari, Corcovado is likely to settle them. Just go!
6. Irazú Volcanic National Park
Costa Rica’s tallest volcano rises to 3432 metres above sea level. From its peak you can often take in a view of both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
7. Manuel Antonio Park
Easy access, fantastic wildlife and accommodation for all budgets have made this Costa Rica’s most visited park.
8. Poás Volcano National Park
A high altitude botanical dream with the volcano looming out of a cloud-forest that is packed with giant ferns.
9. Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park
In the heart of wild Guanacaste cowboy country, Costa Rica’s own Yellowstone boasts blubbering mud pools and hissing hot springs.
10. Tortuguero National Park
This watery wilderness on the Caribbean coast is a bird-watcher’s dream, but is most popular between July and October when mass arribadas of sea turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs.