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9 Apr 2024
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Eco Tourism

There is no greater wildlife destination in the world than Costa Rica.

The country boasts more than half a million species of animals, more than 5% of the world’s total species, and is one of the top 20 most biodiverse destinations on the planet.

It doesn’t matter if you’re seeking exotic terrestrial mammals, breathtaking marine birds, or nesting sea turtles; Costa Rica has them all.

In between the ATV tours, zip lines, and rafting, you should take some time to seek out the wilder side of Costa Rica. Nature lovers staying at our vacation rentals in Los Sueños Resort near Jaco will have a chance to experience the best of the Pacific Coast in natural beauty and animal sightings.

This is the best wildlife you can spot in and around Jaco.

The Costa Rican Wildlife of Jaco

Jaco is renowned for its beautiful beaches and surfer culture in Playa Hermosa on the Pacific Ocean. The embodiment of the Pura Vida lifestyle. Among the vibrant nightlife scene, horseback riding on the beach, rainforest adventures, and waterfall tours, there is plenty of ‘only in Costa Rica’ wildlife. Here are the species you can see near Jaco Beach.


Photo Credit: Ondrej Prosicky

These are one of the most abundant birds in Costa Rica. There are many species of toucan to see, with slight variations in color and size. In Jaco, you can expect to see the Chestnut Mandibled Toucan with its stark yellow beak and feathers most often.

Scarlet Macaws

Photo Credit: Ondrej Prosicky

One of the most impressive feathered species in Costa Rica and a birdwatcher’s delight. Soaring through the tree-tops and along the coastline, you’ll usually see the large red birds flying in tandem with their partners. They can be seen throughout the country, and Jaco is no different.

White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys

Photo Credit: Ondrej Prosicky

These little guys love the beach. Many travelers choose to take a mangrove boat tour or catamaran tour along the shoreline to spot the intelligent little fellas, but you will also likely see plenty of them just meandering around the treeline on the beaches. They are some of the smartest monkeys in South and Central America and are easily distinguishable by their white torso and heads.


Photo Credit: Jason Richeux

Don’t be alarmed. You’re very unlikely to stumble into one of these guys. But the aptly named Crocodile Bridge in Jaco is a great place to spot one if you want to. If you’re a real reptile lover then you might be interested in boating up the Tarcoles River on a crocodile tour, a full-day guided tour put on by Jungle Crocodile Safari in Jaco.

Squirrel Monkeys

Photo Credit: Tambako The Jaguar via Flickr CC2.0

This adorable orange-furred monkey only lives near the Pacific Coast. In Costa Rica, that means Jaco. These rambunctious little monkeys are most active in the early mornings and evenings so be sure to set out early to spot them near the beaches.

Green Sea Turtles

Photo Credit:

While the Caribbean side of Costa Rica is known to have more turtles than the Pacific side, the Nicoya Peninsula does have quite a few. But right here in Jaco, sheltered almost behind the peninsula itself, you might come across a Green Sea Turtle or two while snorkeling.

Humpback Whales

Photo Credit: Stockphotoguy81

Jaco is a prime location for spotting migrating humpback whales from shore. Humpbacks swim along the Pacific Coast of Central America from July to November. During this time you can often see their massive blows or spouts or the occasional whale tail, a sign of them making a deep dive in the relatively warm Pacific waters.

Manta Rays

Photo Credit: Michael Bogner

While not a common sighting in Jaco, it is certainly possible. Seven different species of rays inhabit the waters, and those venturing into the deep may get lucky with a sighting or two.


Photo Credit: crbellette

Costa Rica has more than 300,000 species of insects. But none are more beautiful than butterflies. In every single color and hue of the rainbow and more, you’ll spot large, small, and everything in between fluttering through the green fronds of the Jaco jungles.

Royal Butterflies is a local butterfly farm set on 1.2 hectares with 70 kinds of fruit trees and 15 species of butterfly, including the enormous caligo memnon (giant owl), whose wingspan can reach 150mm!

National Parks Near Jaco

While the wildlife in Jaco isn’t abundant there are many nearby places that it is. The Nicoya peninsula, Puntarenas areas, and Tortuga Island, just to name a few. Here are some of the closest national parks and what wildlife you can expect to find in each.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Photo Credit: Stefan Neumann

The most popular national park in Costa Rica for wildlife watching, with good reason. You can pretty much find all the terrestrial animals mentioned above in Manuel Antonio National Park as well as a few more mentioned below.


Photo Credit: Lukas Kovarik

You can find both the two-toed and three-toed varieties in Costa Rica. While the so-ugly-it’s-adorable critter is most commonly spotted in Manuel Antonio, it can be seen all over the country. In the La Fortuna area, there is even a small reserve where you can walk and basically be guaranteed a sighting.

Collared Peccary

Photo Credit: buteo

A distant relative of wild pigs, the Collared Peccary can be found throughout the Americas. They thrive here in the jungle of Costa Rica.


Photo Credit: Martin Pelanek

One of nature’s weirdest-looking creatures, these gray and fuzzy animals with long wispy hair and a thin tube-like snout grow to a massive size for something that eats only ants and termites. This national park is one of the best in the country for spotting the elusive animal that likes to roam about in the early morning hours to avoid being spotted.


Photo Credit: ChWeiss

This small rodent might not make your wildlife spotting bucket list, but similar to a Capybara, just very tiny, they are an interesting sight (and a common one at that) in this particular park.

Mantled Howler Monkey

Photo Credit: Seth Yarkony

You’ll hear their bellowing calls echo throughout the jungle every morning and evening. If you’re exceptionally lucky, you might spot their dark forms moving through the treetops as they munch on foliage and fruits. This park is the best slice of the jungle in Northern Costa Rica to spot the bulky monkeys.

Arenal Volcano National Park

Photo Credit: Ganz Twins

Generally known as the La Fortuna area for the waterfall of the same name, this lush landscape is also bursting with wildlife. Many of the above species can also be spotted in Arenal Volcano National Park.


Photo Credit: jurra8

Traveling in huge families with their fuzzy brown tails bouncing behind them, they are a sight to behold. They look like a cross between a raccoon and a cat—only cuter. Don’t miss them here in La Fortuna.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Photo Credit: Nick Fox

Near the Puntarenas area, the Monteverde Cloud Forest is a unique ecosystem where you can spend a day trip trudging through the canopy on a high walkway and spot an abundance of wildlife.

Spider Monkey

Photo Credit: Ondrej Prosicky

Traveling in large troupes, these monkeys are active throughout Costa Rica all day. Here in the cloud forest, these tufted gray and black monkeys swing through the treetops erratically and hang from branches with their awkwardly long limbs. You can take a canopy tour in the cloud forest for a better chance of spotting them.

Resplendent Quetzal

Photo Credit: Ondrej Prosicky

This Christmas-colored regal bird is numerous in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. You might require the help of a guide to spot one in the dense jungle foliage, but it’s worth the effort to see their jade-colored wings/mohawk and bright red breast. March-April is the best time to spot them as it is their nesting season.


Photo Credit: Ondrej Prosicky

I’ll be painfully honest with you. You’re not going to see an Ocelot. But they are here in the jungle. These secretive, small, splotchy cats are nocturnal and notoriously difficult to spot. They don’t particularly like humans and are one of the most stealthy animals within the Costa Rican jungles. But you can enjoy the thought of them residing somewhere in the jungle beyond your gaze.

Best Wildlife Tour in Jaco, Costa Rica

Try a wildlife tour if you’re serious about spotting some wildlife and not too keen to venture into the vast jungles and down densely foliated trails on your own. We think this is the best tour for animal lovers who are also interested in supporting local businesses.

Los Sueños Wildlife Watching Tour

This day tour is led by knowledgeable locals. With their help, you’ll kayak the Damas Island mangroves, explore Carara National Park, hike the Bijagual Mountains, and spot unique endemic species in Manuel Antonio National Park. This is a private tour that includes up to 6 people. Perfect for the whole family.

Stay With Us in Jaco, Costa Rica!

When choosing where to base yourself in Costa Rica for the perfect vacation, look no further than Jaco. It’s a beachfront town with all the amenities of a large city but with easy access to wildlife and stunning natural landscapes.

Our vacation rentals at Los Sueños Resort offer all the creature comforts you could want for a romantic getaway or family vacation.

Looking for local guidance? Whether looking for local wildlife experiences or sportfishing we can create adventure tours customized to your group’s needs. Contact us for more information!