If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, getting out and enjoying the beauty of the country is likely high on your priority list. But it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to go, especially if you have a limited amount of time in this glorious country.
But have no fear because we are here to help!
We’ve gathered a list of the top 3 national parks that need to be on your must-see list…and they’re all located in the lovely province of Guanacaste.
A Case for Guanacaste
If you want to enjoy all that Costa Rica has to offer without leaving for another province, then you must spend your time in Guanacaste. Those who live in the region must be doing something right as theirs is one of only five regions on the entire planet labeled a “blue zone”, where residents live longer lives than anywhere else in the world.
There is just so much beauty to behold in Guanacaste—from the active volcanoes to breathtaking waterfalls and gorgeous flora and fauna. And much of this beauty can be enjoyed in the following national parks.
1. Rincon de la Vieja National Park
There’s a reason Rincon de la Vieja is number one on our list. With two volcanoes, 32 rivers and streams, and an abundance of rare tropical flora and fauna, this park is not to be missed.
Here you can swim, hike, ride horses, and enjoy hot springs. We’re not kidding—you’ll run out of daylight before you run out of things to do and see here.
Don’t be surprised if you see various monkeys, sloths, jaguars, and pumas while you’re exploring the park.
Tip: If hiking is your jam, be sure to try the Catarata la Cangreja trail. It will take about 3 hours to complete the out-and-back hike, but you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the tropics and a close-up waterfall view.
2. Barra Honda National Park
More beauty awaits at Barra Honda National Park, but the sights here are unlike anywhere else in the country thanks to their limestone cave system. There are more than 40 caverns located in the park and all are in great shape thanks, in part, to the fact that accessing them is challenging. For this reason, you’ll be required to use climbing gear, hire a guide, and get advanced permission from the park before accessing the caves. But we’re here to tell you, it’s absolutely worth the effort.
Tip: If you are a naturalist, you’ll love getting to explore one of the rarest habitats on earth—the tropical dry forest. This delicate ecosystem is highly endangered due to climate change and agricultural development.
3. Diria National Park
Think of Diria as the hidden gem of the Guanacaste province. While other parks on the list tend to draw larger crowds, Diria is tucked away from the beach tourists and nothing short of paradise…particularly if you are a birder.
Here you’ll see a variety of kiskadees, woodpeckers, and cuckoos. There are also three trail options to keep you occupied, the longest of which ends at a seasonal waterfall.
Tip: When it comes to the waterfall, we’re not kidding about the seasonal part. During the dry season, it’s likely the falls and swimming hole will be dry, so plan a visit during the rainy season and bring appropriate footwear.
And there you have it—three can’t-miss national parks to enjoy while you’re in Costa Rica. Whether you’re visiting during the green or dry season, we guarantee you’ll love getting out and enjoying all the natural beauty Costa Rica has to offer.