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Set of the banks of the Tempisque River, Palo Verde National Park (Parque Nacional Palo Verde) contains more than 15 topographical zones, including mangrove swamps, evergreen forests, and tropical dry forests. The park is a haven for migratory birds, bats, and 250 species of bees, plus mammals like jaguarundis (cat) and howler monkeys.
Most tours of Palo Verde National Park include lunch and round-trip transportation from Tamarindo or Liberia area hotels. Much of the park can be explored by boat and excursions typically include a river cruise, during which you can travel down the Tempisque River and spot wildlife, such as crocodiles, birds, and monkeys.
Some tours also feature a visit to a Costa Rican waterfall or include a stop for bird-watching at one of the park’s marsh habitats. For a personalized experience, private tours are also available.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Palo Verde National Park is a must-see for nature lovers.
- Mosquitoes are plentiful, especially during the wet season. Be sure to pack bug repellent.
- The park’s ranger station is open from 8am until dusk and has restrooms available for visitors.
- Palo Verde National Park is a haven for many species. As such, be careful not to disturb wildlife as you explore.
How to Get There
Palo Verde National Park lies roughly one hour from Liberia and two hours from Tamarindo by road. Public transportation is limited; it’s possible to arrive by private vehicle or on a guided tour. The Tempisque River can be explored on guided boat excursions.
When to Get There
You can visit Palo Verde National Park year-round. During the wet season, many migratory birds can be found in the park, while wildlife tends to congregate around shrinking waterholes during the dry season. Due to the park’s climate, there is a chance of flooding during the wet season, which typically lasts from May through November.
Biodiversity in Palo Verde National Park
More than 60 bird species use the area as a migratory stop, and there are also about 75 mammal species, 55 reptile and amphibian species, and roughly a quarter of the world’s bee species. The bees, along with a number of other insects and many species of bats, can be found at the Lomas Barbudal Biological Reserve, which lies adjacent to Palo Verde.
Address: Palo Verde National Park, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
From $ 27
Santa Rosa National Park (Parque Nacional Santa Rosa) encompasses much of Costa Rica’s Santa Elena Peninsula and is one of the country’s oldest protected areas. Thick jungles and mangrove forests give way to rolling ocean and white beaches along the country’s coastline, while further inland, dry tropical forests teem with flora and fauna.
Keep an eye out for iguanas and monkeys, as you trek through the forests of Santa Rosa National Park, or walk along the coast and scan the sands for sea turtle tracks. In addition to the park’s wealth of wildlife, one of Santa Rosa’s most popular attractions is the historic Hacienda La Casona. Tours of the hacienda, which commemorates the 1856 victory of Tico civilians against foreign mercenaries, allow you to explore the jungle and learn about the settlement’s storied past.
Farther west, the park’s coastline is famously home to Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point—two world-class surfing beaches. While these locations are remote and difficult to access, surfing tours provide transportation by boat and allow you to discover some of the area’s more hidden spots.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Santa Rosa National Park is a must-see for nature and history lovers.
- The park’s Nancite Beach (Playa Nancite) is a protected nesting spot for olive ridley sea turtles. As such, all visitors to the beach must arrange a permit in advance from the National Park office.
- Santa Rosa is a haven for many protected species; be careful not to disturb wildlife as you explore.
How to Get There
Santa Rosa National Park lies on Costa Rica’s northwest corner, less than an hour by road from the city of Liberia, the departure point for most tours. It’s possible to arrive by private vehicle, although guided excursions typically provide round-trip transportation.
When to Get There
Dry season in Santa Rosa National Park usually lasts from December through April. The peak wet season is September through October, and while rains can occasionally wash out roads, many times precipitation comes in the form of short-lived afternoon storms. Pacific ridley sea turtles nest and hatch on the beaches in late summer.
Santa Rosa National Park History
Costa Rica is famously known for its pristine national parks, and Santa Rosa is the country’s oldest. Established in 1972, the park began Costa Rica’s tradition of conservation. Santa Rosa National Park is the site of the 1856 Battle of Santa Rosa, during which Costa Rican forces defeated a force of mercenaries backed by foreign businessmen.
Address: Guanacaste, Costa Rica
From $ 30
Costa Rica is known for its adventure — zip lining, surfing, horseback riding. Diamante Eco Adventure Park is a great place to partake, with the country’s longest dual ocean view zip line and a host of other activities. At nearly one mile long, the unique zip line allows for two people at once to soar effortlessly above the Costa Rican jungle with expansive views of the ocean.
With more than thirty activities on both land and sea, the eco adventure park has miles of walking and biking trails, a climbing wall, and a hanging bridge. The park is surrounded by tropical rainforest, where exotic birds, monkeys, snakes, and sloths reside and wildlife sightings are not uncommon. There are plenty of ways to explore the nature of the area, whether by ATV or by spending some time in the botanical garden or wildlife rescue center. In the nearby ocean, visitors can experience the warm waters by kayak, stand up paddle board, surfing, or snorkeling.
Diamante Eco Adventure Park is located just southwest of Playa del Coco in Guanacaste. The best way to get there is to head to the RIU Guanacaste/RIU Palace hotels on Playa Matapalo. The park is located beside the hotels. It costs $68 to do the zip line, and $88 for the zip line combined with other activities.
Address: RIU Guanacaste Route, Costa Rica
Hours: Open daily 8:30am-5pm
Admission: No fee for entry, activity costs vary
From $ 42