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Best Time for Wildlife Viewing in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to over 500,000 species, including more than 900 bird species, 200 mammal species, and 9,000 plant species. It is a top destination for wildlife enthusiasts, and it is important to know the best time to visit to make the most of your wildlife viewing experience.

So, what is the best time to visit Costa Rica for wildlife viewing, taking into consideration factors such as weather, animal migrations, and breeding seasons? Let’s explore the various factors that help you determine the optimal time to visit this biodiverse country.


Like other countries in this region, Costa Rica has two distinct seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season runs from December to April, while the rainy season runs from May to November.

While the dry season is a popular time to visit, it is not necessarily the best time for wildlife viewing. During the dry season, animals tend to congregate around water sources, making them easier to spot.

However, the dry season can also be hot and dusty, which can make it uncomfortable for visitors.

On the other hand, the rainy season is the best time for wildlife viewing in Costa Rica. The rains bring lush vegetation and increased insect activity, which attracts a variety of animals.

The rainy season is also the breeding season for many animals, which increases the chances of spotting newborns. While the rainy season can be wet and muddy, it is worth braving the weather for incredible wildlife viewing opportunities.

Animal Migrations

Costa Rica is home to a number of animal migrations that occur throughout the year.

One of the most famous migrations is the sea turtle migration, which takes place from July to October. During this time, thousands of turtles make their way to the beaches of Tortuguero and Ostional to lay their eggs. Visitors can witness this incredible natural event by joining a guided tour.

Another notable migration is the humpback whale migration, which takes place from December to April. During this time, humpback whales migrate from the cold waters of the north to the warmer waters of Costa Rica to breed and give birth.

Visitors can go on whale-watching tours to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Breeding Seasons

Breeding season is another important factor to consider when planning a wildlife viewing trip to Costa Rica. During the breeding season, animals are more active and visible as they search for mates and defend their territories.

Some of the most popular breeding seasons include:

  • Sloth breeding season: September to November
  • Bird breeding season: March to May
  • Monkey breeding season: May to August

During these breeding seasons, visitors can witness unique animal behaviors and even see newborns. However, it is important to remember that breeding seasons can also be crowded, so it is recommended to book tours and accommodations in advance.

National Parks

Costa Rica is home to 28 national parks, each with its own unique ecosystem and wildlife. Some of the most popular national parks for wildlife viewing include Corcovado National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, and Arenal Volcano National Park.

Each park has its own peak season for wildlife viewing, so it is recommended to research and plan accordingly.


There is no shortage of incredible wildlife viewing opportunities throughout the year. While the dry season is a popular time to visit, the rainy season offers the best chance to see a wide variety of animals in their natural habitat.

When planning your trip to Costa Rica, it is important to consider your priorities and interests. Factors such as animal migrations, breeding seasons, and national park peak seasons also play a role in determining the best time to visit for wildlife viewing.

If you are interested in witnessing specific animal behaviors or events, such as sea turtle nesting or whale watching, be sure to plan your trip during the appropriate time of year. If you are more interested in seeing a wide variety of animals, the rainy season may be your best bet.

No matter when you visit, it is important to respect wildlife and its natural habitat. Be sure to follow park regulations and guidelines, stay on designated trails, and refrain from touching or feeding the animals.

By doing so, you can help preserve Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity for future generations to enjoy.

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