An Introduction to the National Parks of Costa Rica


Costa Rica contains twenty-six national parks for the enjoyment of visitors on Costa Rica tours and residents alike. Eight are located along the country’s two picturesque coasts, six on its 631-mile Pacific coast and two on its 132-mile Caribbean coast, protecting endangered species from humpback whales to leatherback turtles. The eighteen interior national parks represent a variety of ecosystems. The rainforest parks are a mecca for birders on Costa Rica tours, and hikers love the six national parks that contain one or more volcanoes.

Costa Rica’s inland national parks stretch from almost the northern border with Nicaragua to its southern border with Panama. Guanacaste Province, in the north, belonged to Nicaragua until 1925 when it was annexed to Costa Rica. Today the province is home to nine national parks, three of which are located on the scenic Nicoya Peninsula. Eight national parks are right in the heart of things, within sixty miles of the nation’s capital, making easy day trips for visitors who travel to Costa Rica and plan to spend time in San Jose.

Costa Rica began protecting areas of land in the 1950s and designating national parks in the 1970s. Today a network of national parks protects what is most dear, its endangered wildlife species, coral reefs, estuaries, rainforests and other fragile ecosystems. Some protect the country’s heritage as well, such as Guanacaste National Park where hundreds of petroglyphs are located.
Donations to the Costa Rica National Parks Foundation help underwrite the maintenance and improvement of the parks as well as land acquisition. Some of the funds go to training personnel who work in the parks. For more information about helping to support Costa Rica’s national parks go to