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Guide for Guanacaste's

National Parks

National Parks are absolutely the best place to see for yourself all the biodiversity that you’ve heard so much about. Without a doubt they are the must-see destination for all visitors to Costa Rica looking to intimately experience all her exuberant wildlife.



What to take to the parks? Not too much. A small backpack with a camera, extra batteries, bathing suit, insect repellent, towel, extra t-shirt and underwear, dried fruit or energy bars, water, photocopy of your passport and some money. Wear athletic shoes with good grip, socks, pants, long-sleeved shirt, hat and raincoat in case of rain.


Will I see many animals? Yes, probably. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see frogs hopping or jaguars prowling as soon as you step into the forest. The vegetation is abundant so it therefore pays to be patient. Sharpen your vision and stay alert in order to be able to spot them. It helps a lot to go with an experienced and knowledgeable guide.

Watch this video for a fabolous journey through Costa Rican nature, showcasing spectacular images, magical sound and excellent music. Best Photography Award 1996 for Roberto Miranda, film maker and videographer. (9:46 minutes)


This is a short brief of each of Guanacaste's National Parks.

1.- Rincón de la Vieja National Park

rincon_de_la_viejaTel: 2661 8139

Entrance from 7am - 3pm, but the park remain open until 5pm.

Monday it is closed.


The park’s attractions include the mildly active Rincon de la Vieja volcano with its constantly active fumaroles and bubbling mud pots, relaxing hot springs and impressive waterfalls that appear as if out of nowhere in the middle of tropical rain forest that abounds with flora and fauna such as tapirs, monkeys, coatis, agutis and a boundless number of birds and insects. There are good trails, camping facilities and nearby hotels. The road is in great condition, so you can access on any kind of car. For the rainy season a 4x4 could be a better option.

The area have many interesting and fun activities, such as canopy, tubbing, horseback ridding or rappeling, among many other.

Related articles:


Rincon de la Vieja volcano... A mountain of adventure!!!


Discovering Blue River and the north face of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano



See several options of tours in the area in the Guanacaste's Things To Do Guide


2.- Santa Rosa National Park

pn._sta_rosaTel: 2666 5051

8am - 4pm Monday closed. 


This park is an incomparable example of tropical dry forest. Offshore are the Bat Islands, which provide exceptional sites for scuba divers. Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point located within the park are two world-class surfing spots. Thousands of sea turtles arrive to nest on the beaches from July to December. In addition there is also the Santa Rosa lodge which is now a museum that commemorates the 1856 victory of an improvised costarican army assembled against North American filibusters and which today is one of the country’s main historical sites.

Related article:

Bat Islands in Guanacaste: The house of Bull Sharks...


3.- Palo Verde National Park

ave_en_palo_verdeTel: 661 4717

8am - 4pm Monday closed. 


This park is an important migratory zone for birds. It is famed for its high density and variety of bird species, which can be observed while floating gently on tours down the river. In addition to the park facilities, the scientific research station  offers lodging, food and tours which help to finance the studies.



Related article:

Guanacaste Bird Watching Guide

4.- Las Baulas National Park

Tel. 653 0470

6 am - 8pm daily.


A refuge for leatherback turtles that protects one of the world’s most important nesting sites for this highly-endangered species. These animals arrive every year between October and February. During the season all visitors at night (prime nesting hours) who come to see the turtles must go accompanied by a local certified guide.

Related article:

Costa Rica Sea Turtles watching guide


5.- Tenorio National Park

pn.tenorioTel: 200 0135

8am – 4pm  daily.


Known for its stunning Rio Celeste (Light Blue River), named after the color of its waters which are dyed blue by the presence of calcium and sulphuric carbonates in the water. Covered by dense clouds and leafy jungle, the park houses abundant flora and fauna, rivers, large waterfalls and small hot springs. 

Related article:


Celeste River in Guanacaste: Where the sky flows down the mountain...


6.- Arenal National Park

arenal_volcanoTel: 695 5180

8am - 4pm  Monday closed.


The star of the park, Arenal volcano, is the most active in Central America and at night, offers impressive views of the crater with incandescent lava running out of it and down its slopes. The park is a great example of rain forest in which one can see a great variety of birds such as toucans, parrots and quetzals as well as a wide range of mammals and reptiles.

Related article:
What a Fortune!!! Arenal is a lot more than a volcano...


7.- Barra Honda National Park

barra_hondaTel: 2659 1551      2659 1099

8am-1pm Monday closed.


It is a dry tropical forest of 5,600 acres with 42 extraordinary subterranean caves and a look out point with views of the Tempisque River, the Golf of Nicoya and some of its islands.

During all the year, one can see monkeys, deer, raccoons, ocelots, peccary, opossum, tepescuintle and anteaters, in addition to an ample variety of birds and plants typical of the dry tropical forests.

There is a good information center at the park, picnic tables and trails in very good condition.  The entrance includes the entrance to the park, equipment and guides. A call the day before your planned visit is required to confirm the availability and to reserve the tour guides and the safety equipment you will need to carry.


Related article:

Barra Honda Caves: Walking under Guanacaste's skin

Guanacaste National Parks (click on it to enlarge)




Trip Tips

*Arrive to the parks early. The animals are much more active and visible in the mornings. In addition, it takes at least four hours to tour them sufficiently.


*Accept the changes in climate. The country is the same rain or shine; each  has its own charm.


*Travel around Costa Rica is in a 4WD vehicle (with good suspension) It will give you the freedom to explore different roads that aren’t always in the best condition. With patience you will be able to savor each moment of your journey and turn into an expert at dodging potholes.


*Remember: Always travel with an open mind, This allows you to relish the experience without prejudices or restrictions.


*Use your trip to educate yourself. It’s always good to learn a little of the local language and culture of the people you are visiting. Besides, all this will enrich your trip and make your stay much easier and enjoyable.


How to be a responsible tourist


The idea is to observe nature in its natural state.

* Enjoy your surroundings without disturbing them.

* Don’t take anything you haven’t brought with you. Leave only your tracks.

* Stick to the trails, they are there to minimize the impact of visiting     humans.

* Don’t feed the wildlife or disturb their habitats. Feeding them inappropriate foods will make them sick, transmit diseases to them or cause serious dental problems.

* Encourage all those in your party to follow these guidelines.




Visit our latest issue on virtual paper
…or see previous issues in our virtual kiosk
utopia magazine and travel guide

What else would you like to see in Utopia Magazine? 

Things to do in Costa Rica

Golf in Guanacaste 

Tico Glossary Catalinas island 

Barra Honda Caves

Rincón de la Vieja

Diving in Guanacaste


Marina Papagayo Medical tourism

What does Pura Vida means? 

MAPS Ecology   Culture   

Hotels in Costa Rica Birds

watching guide MarineTurtles 

Playas del Coco NationalParks 

Transportation guide 

Humpback Whales 


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