You’ve likely seen the Costa Rican Tourism ads featuring an adorable talking and singing sloth. The thing is, these ads show just a glimpse of the wildlife hiding in plain sight throughout Costa Rica’s national parks and primary rainforests. These Costa Rica wildlife photos will stir your wanderlust and undoubtedly have you booking your trip right now.
23 Costa Rica Wildlife Photos to Make You
Want to Visit Right Now
In Manuel Antonio National Park, sloths are commonly seen snuggled into the limbs of the trees, sleeping away the day’s heat. But, when that particular limb isn’t all they’d hoped for, they just inch their way from branch to branch in search of a more comfortable spot.
In the jungles, on the beaches, and even upside down on hotel room ceilings, a countless variety of lizards sit ever watchful and always ready to run.
After a humid downpour, be careful where you step! This poisonous dart frog is just slightly bigger than your thumbnail and likes to hide in fallen leaves along the moist ground.
I know it’s the teacher in me, but isn’t this the best monkey school photo you’ve ever seen?! All kidding aside, these white-faced capuchin monkeys aren’t as cute as they look. They’ll steal your snacks even while munching on the bloody remains of what used to be a lizard.
In a place like Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula, butterflies of all shapes, sizes, and colors flit silently by in search of the perfect perch. This owl butterfly hopes the “eyes” on its wings will make a would-be predator think twice.
Staying off the trails and climbing high for safety, this lesser anteater listens carefully before descending and making its way through the rainforest.
The tiger heron waits just near an almost dried up stream for the rains to come, hoping its favorite treats like frogs, crabs, and fish will arrive along with the wet weather.
Squirrel monkeys are tiny and nimble! They jump quickly through the forest canopy before you’ve had a chance to capture enough photos.
You can hear them well before you spot them. Though not nearly as noisy as the scarlet macaws, toucans chatter away the day (and night!) hidden among the dense green brush.
Baird’s Tapir is the largest land mammal in Central America. With parts resembling pigs, horses, rhinos, and hippos, this animal forges its own path through the Costa Rican rainforest before settling in a dark spot within a tangle of shrubs, vines, and branches.
Just stay completely frozen, blend in with the tree, and no one will see me.
Spider monkeys move in troops through the trees of the primary and secondary rainforests on the Osa Peninsula. Perhaps contemplating her next move, but more likely, debating over which branch she should shake to send the message she’d like my camera and me to move along.
Does anyone know where I can find a blue leaf to hide this tail!?
Many of Costa Rica’s beaches are wild and undeveloped. The large tide pools formed from high tide are just too much temptation for an overheated tapir. This male ventured out of the brush and across the sand to wade in and cool off.
Anyone care for a swim? The bridge over the Rio Tarcoles is the hot spot to photograph crocodiles, but even I was surprised to see such a gathering!
Costa Rica is a bird-lovers paradise with over 900 species nesting, singing, and flying their way around the region. When planning a day at Manuel Antonio National Park, consider hiring a guide to help you spot beauties like this mangrove cockoo.
Female coatis stay together in large groups with a single male. While walking along a trail in Corcovado National Park, this group wandered all around unphased by our presence. You won’t be able to stop looking at their gravity-defying tails.
This silhouetted photo shows the full-body size of a spider monkey gliding effortlessly through the canopy. Head south in Costa Rica as this is one of the only areas to see this fourth species of monkey.
It’s impossible to miss the colorful wings of a butterfly even as monkeys swing overhead and tropical birds squawk and screech.
Get out of the rainforest and onto the calm, clear water of the Golfo Dulce to “play” with the dolphins. You’ll instantly recognize pure dolphin joy that comes from living free as they swim curiously alongside your boat.
The woodpecker is far from the noisiest bird in the rainforest. When she’s not burrowing holes into the trees, the woodpecker sings (or laughs at?) to anyone who’ll listen.
With a stroke of luck and a quick trigger finger, you might just capture a dolphin’s leap!
After a morning of chatter, feasting, and other busyness, the rainforest falls silent. Just after midday, there’s an eerie calm as the animals settle in for their much-deserved naps.
Are you ready to experience Costa Rica’s wildlife? Which Costa Rica wildlife photos would you like to take?
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20 thoughts on “23 Costa Rica Wildlife Photos to Make You Want to Visit Right Now”
That boldly colored green lizard immediately pulled me in. I’m not a fan of lizards up close, but from a distance I could watch him run around all day. Great shot of a woodpecker, as they are usually difficult to catch sitting still! And the monkeys… I want to take a nap with those two, so it looks like I need to go to Costa Rica now!
Thanks, Sara. I love that woodpecker photo, too. Costa Rica is fantastic so I hope you can get there soon! 🙂
Wow! SUch amazing photos from a country I really want to go too. Loving that woodpecker photo.
Thanks, Danik. Such a great adventure and I just can’t recommend Costa Rica enough. Keep an eye out for my upcoming guides to help you plan your trip. 🙂
Your photos are taking me right back to our trip to Costa Rica last summer! We also saw a wonderful amount of wildlife – howler monkeys, snakes, spiders, sloths, dolphins and coatis. It’s such an amazing country. That’s helping me relive our great holiday there.
Glad to help, Claudia! Those howler monkeys are so tricky. Even when I spotted one, it was always too high up for a photo. 😉
You captured so many beautiful pictures of so many different animals! Costa Rica really is the place to be for animal lovers and you were lucky to see so many!
Thanks, Claudia. 🙂
You captured a lot of incredible wildlife shots! I did a study abroad program with my high school in Costa Rica in 1997 and though we visited the Cloud Forest, Manuel Antonio and other nature reserves, I never saw sloths.
In the 80s and 90s, the sloth population was in serious decline. Not as much land was protected and beef was big business. I’m pretty sure this is why I never saw any. Plus, the Sloth Sanctuary didn’t open until the 90s and wasn’t known like it is today.
Thanks, Jennifer. How awesome that must have been as a high school student! Costa Rica is now all about the environment and protection. Sloths are easy to see in the Manuel Antonio area, but I’ve recently heard some negative talk about that sanctuary. It may not be doing as much good as it was initially intended to do.
I stayed at a nature lodge South of Corcovado art the wildlife was simply amazing. I even got a glimpse of a puma!
So awesome, Brianna…and lucky to see a puma! 🙂
Wow! Loved this visual treat of wild life of Costa Rica. I’m very very terrified of lizards and I was scared to so many at once, that too in colours lol. The dart frog looks so innocent. I loved the Tapir and the butterfly with the ‘eyes’. Lovely captures!
Thanks so much, Reshma. 🙂 Those lizards are so skittish. They dart away as quick as a blink!
Absolutely stunning photos Jackie! Costa Rica has got such wonderful wildlife, it’s a photographer’s dream, can’t believe how close you got to them. My favourite has to be the crocodiles, such a great perspective!
Thanks a lot, Melissa! 🙂 I couldn’t agree more. Costa Rica is perfect for photographers.
Wow! What a broad selection of wildlife for a relatively small spot of Earth! I didn’t realize that anteaters climbed trees. Learn something new every day…
Happy continued travels & explorations!
Costa Rica is soo biodiverse, Carola! Definitely a spot for animal lovers. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Can you recommend whether it is more worthwhile to go to the Nicoya or Osa Peninsula?
Thanks for reading, Marta. Unfortunately, I can’t because I haven’t been to the Nicoya Peninsula. The Osa, though, is spectacular.