Costa Rica is stunning and famous for its environmental protection and sustainable ecotourism. In all over 25% of Costa Rica is protected with much of that area in national parks. Costa Rica is a stunning and very popular country to visit and there are many surprising facts about Costa Rica that you probably didn't know.

Costa Rica has a rainy season and a dry season. One can visit year-round but there are some reasons why one may want to visit Costa Rica during the rainy season.


Costa Rica And Its Many National Parks

There are currently an impressive 30 national parks in Costa Rica - although these tend to be fairly small. Costa Rica has become something of a model for other countries with sustainable ecotourism.

The national parks include tropical forests, marine areas, wetlands, and rainforests and they are also the subject of various scientific studies.

  • Tip: Hike The Camino de Costa Rica - a 280 KM or 175 Mile Long Hiking Trail Across Costa Rica

With 30 national parks, it would be too much to visit all of them while visiting Costa Rica, so here are the top-rated national parks according to Lonely Planet.

Parque Nacional Chirripó

The top-rated national park according to the Lonely Planet is Parque Nacional Chirripó. It contains the country's highest peak - Cerro Chirripó at 3820 meters or 12,530 feet and is popular with two-day ascents from San Gerardo de Rivas. Most hikers hike up to the Crestones Base Lodge and then summit the mountain at sunrise the next day. Cerro Chirripó is also the 38th most prominent peak in the world.

Summiting starts with a 16.5 km or 10.3-mile uphill hike along a trail from the town of San Gerardo de Rivas to the lodge. Then there's a 5 km or 3.1-mile hike up to the peak.

  • Highest Mountain: Cerro Chirripó - 3820 Meters or 12,530 Feet
  • Dry Season: From December To April
  • Wet Season: From May to November

Most of the national park is difficult to access and it is pristine rainforest pristine. It was established in 1975 and can be categorized into five ecosystems but most of the park is made up of primary rain forests and primary cloud forests.

Related: 15 Reasons You Should Visit Costa Rica (And No It's Not Only The Jungles)

Parque Nacional Isla del Coco

Parque Nacional Isla del Coco or Cocos Island is an island around 550 km or 342 miles off the coast of Costa Rica in the Pacific Ocean. The entirety of Cocos Island has been designed as a national park since 1978 and it has no permanent inhabitants. It is made up of mostly submerged volcanic islands covered with reefs.

  • Located: 350 Miles Off The Coast Of Costa Rica In The Pacific Ocean

The island is surrounded by deep waters with counter-currents and is noted for its large populations of ray, hammerhead sharks, dolphins, and other species like whale sharks, marlins, and humpback whales. In fact, it boasts the largest schools of hammerhead sharks in the world.

  • Famous For: Diving With the Hammerhead Sharks, Dolphins, Rays

The island itself is also packed with an interesting array of plants and animals - many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

  • World Heritage: Cocos Island Has Been Listed As A UNESCO World Heritage Site Since 1997

Undersea Hunter offers dives into the depths to discover the incredible diversity of life under the waves. They have as many as 3 or 4 dives per day and explore the ocean pinnacles and all their sea life. But that's not all, their dives are also colored with the history of pirates, whalers, Tongan captives, and German adventurers to this island. Another diving company to book with is Aggressor.

Related: These Are The Best Destinations In Costa Rica For Solo Travelers

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Parque Nacional Marino Ballena

The Parque Nacional Marino Ballena is famous for its 4-kilometer long beach. This is a small - but still important - marine park that protects the coral and rock reefs surrounding some offshore islands. At low tide, the beach resembles a whale's tail and one can walk along it, at high tide most of the beach is covered.

  • Ballena: Spanish For Whale (the Park Is To Protect The Humpback Whale Migration

In the marine park, one will also see migrating humpback whales, dolphins, and nesting sea turtles.

  • Whale Season: The Best Time For Spotting Whales Are From December to April And Again July to November

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is a tiny park of only 680 hectares but is bursting with wildlife. This park is made up of lush jungle, craggy headlands, and stunning beaches. Here one can see dangling sloths, squawking toucans, and monkeys.

  • Wildlife: See Sloths, Toucans, And Monkeys
  • Tip: It is Often Crowded, So Arrive Early

This is a popular destination and there are normally many people here. To bet the crowds and see more of the wildlife, plan to arrive early.

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Next: Get Insta-Worthy Shots At These Stunning Costa Rica Beaches