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San José, Costa Rica Birdwatching

Our most recommended San José, Costa Rica Birdwatching

San José: Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, & Zip Lining w/ Meals

1. San José: Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, & Zip Lining w/ Meals

Tour the best locations in Costa Rica and learn about local life and culture from those who live there. Visit a coffee plantation, zip line, and soak in the hot springs at the base of the Adrenal Volcano. Take the scenic route to the Arenal Volcano and visit a coffee plantation along the way. Gain an insight into the world of Costa Rican coffee and taste one of the best coffees in the world. Arrive at the "La Paz" and "San Fernando" waterfalls and admire the exotic tropical birds of Costa Rica, including many species of hummingbirds and rare emerald toucanets. Take in the views at the San Fernando Waterfall observation point before heading to the "Iguana Bridge", where you will have the chance to spot iguanas, sloths, monkeys, and toucans. Stop for an authentic Costa Rican lunch in a restaurant located in "La Fortuna." Then, prepare for a zip-lining adventure in the local rainforest jungles with 9 canopy cables and a 50 meter (150 feet) rappel on the Arenal River. Learn about the culture while listening to a "Maleku" Indigenous tribe presentation from locals. Relax for a couple of hours in the Paradise Hot Springs at the base of Arenal Volcano, surrounded by tropical gardens followed by dinner.

Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

2. Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Experience Costa Rica's nature and culture on this full-day tour from San José. Your first destination is the Doka Estate coffee plantation, where you'll learn all about the ancient techniques of producing some of the best coffee in Costa Rica and around the world. Experience the careful process involved in the cultivation, harvesting, and roasting of the Golden Bean before tasting the delectable product. After your coffee tour, continue to Poás Volcano National Park, where there is a noticeable change in temperature and beautiful scenery in a cloud forest. Climb up Poás Volcano, an active stratovolcano that most recently erupted in 2017. The crater of the volcano is over a mile across and 1,050 feet deep, making for breathtaking views. Hike on a trail to the beautiful Botos Lagoon as you learn about the different ecosystems in the park. Then, continue to La Paz Waterfall Gardens and enjoy a buffet lunch of traditional Costa Rican dishes. After lunch, explore the lush tropical rainforest. See the flowing white rivers, spectacular waterfalls, birds, butterflies, monkeys, and hummingbirds before returning to San José.

San Jose: Walking Nature Tour with Sloths, Birds, and Trees

3. San Jose: Walking Nature Tour with Sloths, Birds, and Trees

Departing from the nearby meeting point, visit the University of Costa Rica campus, home to some of the largest patches of forest in San Jose. Guided by young biologists, discover the nature hiding in the middle of Costa Rica's largest city. Experience wildlife you wouldn't have imagined existed minutes away from downtown.   On the first stop, you’ll look for resident and migratory birds, lots of incredible insects and amazing flowers. Then, see the largest indigenous stone sphere in San Jose, thought to derive from the extinct Diquis culture. Lastly, visit the main campus to seek out the friendly sloths climbing freely. The goal of this tour is to change the way tourism is done in Costa Rica, while supporting young scientists, researchers, and local entrepreneurs.

From San Jose: Full-Day Costa Rica Birdwatching Tour

4. From San Jose: Full-Day Costa Rica Birdwatching Tour

Spend a full-day in the rainforest, from special trails to the heights of the treetops and extraordinary observation points. This is an excellent option that must be included in your bird group’s itinerary. It is also a must for birders traveling independently but looking for a customized birding day. You will start the day between 06:30 - 07:00 at the park’s entrance and walk through the secondary forest and open areas. Cross a hanging bridge and see many other species that have started their daily activities in search of food. Around 07:30, you will board the Aerial Tram for a journey to an amazing high point up in the treetops to look for birds, and experience the majestic beauty of the expansive rainforest. The Aerial Tram ride is a birdwatcher’s bonanza - a leisurely observation of canopy species is the rule, and you can stop at the Aerial Tram when you want a better look. At the end, at Tower 12, take a hike on a path that will lead you to an overlook station. At this point, take time to relax and enjoy a box breakfast. Have the chance to observe many birds and explore the area and its other inhabitants. Board the tram again to head back to the rainforest, where a healthy lunch awaits. In the afternoon, passengers will continue on a path leading to the Observation Center, a special site for bird watching, surrounded by plants that attract hummingbirds. You can also peer into in the forest’s background, where once in a while some species that are difficult to spot might make appearances.    

From San José: Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour

5. From San José: Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour

Begin your journey by being picked up from your hotel, and going on a scenic 1.5-hour drive along Route 27, making your way to your first stop at Carara National Park. Head straight out onto some flat walking trails suitable for all fitness levels and wheelchair users, and admire the biological reserve's abundant jungle life in person. Look up to the 40-meter high canopy, and keep an eye out for bright scarlet macaws, agouti rodents, stunning poison dart frogs, spider monkeys, dozens of birds, fantastic fungi, and huge wild cashew trees. Next, enjoy lunch like a local and eat at a traditional soda diner, where you have the option of eating fresh fish or seafood. Re-energized, lower your gears and enjoy a relaxing boat ride for some birdwatching on the Tárcoles River. Admire the river's mangroves, which are some of the most unique and scarce ecosystems of the world, and considered to be biodiversity hotspots. Keep a lookout for the 6-meter-long American crocodiles — the largest of the continent. Finally, dig your toes into the sand of a peaceful beach at your last stop, where you will relax with the sound of the waves before heading back to your accommodation.

From San Jose: La Paz Waterfall Garden & Rainforest Tour

6. From San Jose: La Paz Waterfall Garden & Rainforest Tour

Travel from San Jose to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and enjoy a walking tour on rainforest trails. See flowing white rivers, spectacular waterfalls, bird, butterflies, and other species and enjoy educational animal exhibits for all ages. Be picked up from your hotel or accommodation in San Jose, and depart for the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Enjoy wandering walking trails in the local rainforest and admire the natural beauty of the area. Watch as white rivers flow and see spectacular waterfalls. Spot local wildlife while wandering through the rainforest, like birds, butterflies, monkeys, and hummingbirds, and see them in their natural habitats. Stop at different exhibits for local wildlife like the Aviary, Butterfly Observatory, Hummingbird Garden, Serpoentarium, Jungle Cats Exhibit, and Frog Exhibit. Enjoy a buffet lunch after the tour, rated 4 Forks by the Costa Rican Tourism Council, that includes multiple selections of Traditional Costa Rican dishes and much more. Finish the tour after lunch and be returned to your accommodations in San Jose.

San Jose: Tortuguero Park Day Tour with Breakfast & Lunch

7. San Jose: Tortuguero Park Day Tour with Breakfast & Lunch

The day begins with pickup from your accommodation in San Jose, Heredia, or Alajuela at 6:00 AM. On your way to breakfast, drive past rolling coffee plantations and admire the mountains of Braulio Carrillo National Park. At around 7:15 AM, stop for a traditional Costa Rican breakfast to set you up for the day's adventure. Enjoy fresh fruit juice, coffee, eggs, and the popular gallo pinto (a typical Central American rice and bean dish.) After breakfast, visit a local banana plantation and learn about the process of growing and exporting fruit. At around 10:00 AM, leave the bus behind and hop onboard a boat as you cruise into the jungle of Tortuguero National Park. Surrounded by tropical rainforest, which covers over 29,000 hectares, soak up the magic of this luscious green landscape. As you sail along the jungle canals, see native green sea turtles, as well as other endangered animals such as sloths, monkeys, and manatees. There are also countless colorful butterflies, toucans, herons, crocodiles, and more. Learn about each of the animals and their habitat in the jungle, as well as about local conservation efforts to protect them. Once you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite, enjoy a hearty buffet lunch. After lunch, take a relaxing stroll through Tortuguero Village where you’ll discover local life and learn about the history of the town and its residents. At the end of an unforgettable day, get back on the bus at around 3:30 PM and begin the return journey back to San Jose.

From San José: Manuel Antonio National Park Day Trip & Lunch

8. From San José: Manuel Antonio National Park Day Trip & Lunch

Admire the unique flora and fauna of the Manuel Antonio National Park on this guided day trip. Stop purchase a local lunch and take in ocean views on the ride in a spacious and climate-controlled bus from San José. Take a guided walk to a breathtaking beach and have free time to swim or explore.  Enjoy the convenience of pickup in the morning from select hotels. Relax aboard a comfortable bus on the drive through the mountains that surround the central valley. Pass along the main road that connects the capital with the coastal area. Stop at a restaurant where you can purchase a delicious typical Costa Rican breakfast in the Pacific area. Take the Costanera Sur highway into the park, enjoying beautiful views of the ocean, African palm plantations, and picturesque towns. Reach the Port of Quepos and from there continue to the National Park. Go for a walk in the rainforest along a nature trail of the national park until you reach the beach. Have free time to swim or go on a hike on one of the trails where you can spy monkeys, raccoons, iguanas, birds, and sloths. Spend some free hiking to Punta Catedral to capture pictures of the spectacular view. After having enjoyed the national park, walk back to the restaurant where a delectable lunch awaits your before taking bus back to the city.

Monteverde: Suspension Bridges, Sloths, and Butterflies

9. Monteverde: Suspension Bridges, Sloths, and Butterflies

Treat yourself to a fun-filled day exploring all the very best of Monteverde Cloud Forest. Tour the Butterfly Garden and the Sloth Sanctuary alongside an expert guide. Walk the impressive self-guided suspension bridges at your own pace. For those who want to enjoy the wonderful variety of vegetation and unusual bird life that the area has to offer while appreciating the splendor of the canopy at their own pace, the Tree Top pathway is the best way to experience the cloud forest. One of the biggest on the continent is the magnificent butterfly garden in Monteverde. The garden, which is 300 feet long and 90 feet wide with a massive 50-foot dome ceiling, is home to 50 different butterfly species. Learn about the life cycle, distinctive behaviors, and evolutionary history of these extraordinary species on a guided tour of the live exhibit. Visitors can view many species of colorful birds here, which will awe you with their breathtaking flying tricks. Visit these magnificent facilities and learn about Costa Rica's flora and fauna while accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. At the Sloth Sanctuary, take the opportunity to observe different species of sloths. A natural exhibition has been developed where sloths can move freely along specially made trails.

San Jose: Sarapiqui River & La Paz Gardens Tour with Lunch

10. San Jose: Sarapiqui River & La Paz Gardens Tour with Lunch

The day begins with pickup from your hotel in San Jose and heads to the stunning La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This private nature reserve has been designed to educate visitors and provide sanctuary for rescued wildlife through a variety of gardens and exhibits. Enjoy a stroll through the park's luscious green landscapes and see rescued jaguars, colorful butterflies, exotic birds, and unique plants. Theres's also plenty of tropical cascades to admire and snap photos of for your vacation album. Later, discover the wonders of the Sarapiqui River on a relaxing boat cruise. Soak up the tranquility of the river and surrounding rainforest as you listen to the sound of bird’s chirping and trickling water. At the end of an unforgettable adventure, be dropped off back to your accommodation.

Frequently asked questions about San José, Costa Rica

What are the best day trips and excursions from San José, Costa Rica?

The best day trips and excursions from San José, Costa Rica are:

La Fortuna

What are the best indoor activities in San José, Costa Rica for rainy days?

Other Sightseeing Options in San José, Costa Rica

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What people are saying about San José, Costa Rica

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 40 reviews

I thoroughly enjoyed my day with Harlem! We started off at a coffee plantation, then tasted some strawberries, then juice and bird watching, went to see iguanas, had a nice lunch and then headed zip lining. Zip lining was the best experience and Gabriel and David were such great guides. After zip lining we went to a hot spring and then a souvenir shop with amazing gifts and finally the best meal i had in Costa Rica (Chifrijos). All in all a great day

Our tour guide Rigo was very knowledgeable about the birds and city wildlife. He has so much passion on birdwatching and learning about their behavior, characteristics and adaptation; and we found that so amazing. I learned things from Rigo about wildlife that helled me appreciate more the things we saw in the forests in Fortuna and Monteverde.

The tour was just perfect!!! Marco our guide had absurd knowledge about the whole country and filled us with valuable information. We learned a lot and saw breathtaking landscapes! Everything from the beginning, from the coffee plantations, to the waterfalls and the volcano, everything was impeccable! 10/10! Marco is in our hearts ❤️❤️❤️

Perfect attention from Fernando, excellent guide and driver. Super attentive, punctual, efficient and professional. The tour helps you to know a little about each wonder of Costa Rica!

We loved this trip on our first day in Costa Rica. The Waterfall Gardens and animal sanctuary were lovely.