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San José, Costa Rica Safaris & wildlife activities

Our most recommended San José, Costa Rica Safaris & wildlife activities

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

1. 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.

Manuel Antonio National Park Combo Tour from San Jose

2. Manuel Antonio National Park Combo Tour from San Jose

Expereince the stunning beauty of the Manuel Antonio National Park on this day trip from San Jose. Visit Crocodile Bridge and Tarcoles Beach. Discover the abundant wildlife on the park’s rainforest trails and eat breakfast and lunch at local restaurants.  Enjoy being picked up from the comfort of your accommodation in the San Jose area. Travel aboard an airconditioned coach on the way to have breakfast in a local restaurant located next to the biggest fruit market in the country.  Visit the market to observe a large variety of tropical fruits. Continue your journey with a stop at the popular crocodile bridge where you will have the chance to observe one of Costa Rica’s biggest crocodile’s populations.  Search for scarlet macaws in their natural habitat on Tarcoles Beach where they like to gather. Stop at the Jaco Bay lookout point and take pictures of Costa Rica’s most popular coastal town.  Travel to the Manuel Antonio National Park, hike the rainforest trails with your guide for about and hour and search for monkeys, sloths, toucans, and agoutis. Spend some free time relaxing on the park's pristine beaches or hiking to along rainforest trails. Savor a delicious lunch of local cuisine in a restaurant that provides great jungle and ocean views. Lunch is served in the early afternoon around 2 PM, after which you will be taken back to your hotel in San Jose.

From San José: Monteverde Hanging Bridges Day Trip

3. From San José: Monteverde Hanging Bridges Day Trip

Your tour begins in the morning with pickup in the San José area. Then travel towards the northern part of the country on a very scenic drive, with great views of beautiful mountain ranges, local towns and farms, and the Pacific coast. On the way to Monteverde, enjoy multiple stops. Learn about local fruits at the largest fruit stand of the country. Explore a place where several monkeys are normally observed in the wild at a very close range. Photograph amazing landscapes from a lookout point. Once in Monteverde, savor a delicious lunch and then proceed to do the amazing hanging bridges tour in the cloud forest. Hike with your guide for two to three hours, admiring the beauties of this rare ecosystem and searching for the local wildlife, including monkeys, emerald toucans, coatimundis, and the rare resplendent quetzal, the most beautiful bird of Costa Rica. This hike is approximately 3km (1.9 miles) long and is mostly on flat terrain with a few mild climbs.  Late in the afternoon, return to your accommodation in San José or to your accommodation in central Monteverde. 

From San Jose: 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion

4. From San Jose: 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion

Explore the protected Tortuguero National Park in the Limón Province, reachable only by airplane or boat. Take in the wealth of biodiversity in its eleven different habitats, including rainforest, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches, and lagoons. Trip itinerary: Day 1: After an early morning hotel pickup, admire the biodiversity of a primary forest through the window as you drive past Braulio Carrillo National Park. Sample a delicious Costa Rican breakfast during the drive. Mid-morning, board a comfortable boat and travel along the Tortuguero Canals. Be enchanted by the surrounding paradise and its varied flora and fauna. Then, enjoy a refreshing cocktail and a delicious lunch at the hotel. After lunch, tour the canals and take incredible photos for the rest of the afternoon. Arrive at Pachira Lodge (or similar) for a delightful dinner and a restful night's sleep. Day 2: Discover the flavors of Costa Rica with breakfast at the Lodge. Then, hike along the Lodge's private trail and work up an appetite for lunch. After lunch at the Lodge, visit the Sea Turtle Museum, the beach, and the picturesque village of Tortuguero. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the Lodge again. Day 3: After breakfast at the Lodge, head back to San José, stopping for lunch at El Ceibo in Guápiles on the way. Arrive back in San José in the afternoon.

San José: Tortuga Island Tour with Lunch & Hotel Transfer

5. San José: Tortuga Island Tour with Lunch & Hotel Transfer

Explore Tortuga Island on a guided tour with hotel pickup and drop-off included. Go on a quick tour of the other islands in a boat, then arrive at Tortuga Island. Go snorkeling or swimming, and eat breakfast on the beach. Opt to do other activities, such as renting a jet ski. Tuck into lunch. Begin your tour by getting picked up in an air-conditioned vehicle directly from your hotel in either Heredia, San José, or Alajuela. Once you arrive at the harbor, hop into your speedboat and set sail on your adventure. Listen to your guide tell you about the local area and take in the views. Go on a tour of the Gulf of Nicoya, and see islands such as San Lucas, Isla Cedros, and Jesusita. Use the opportunity to take photos. Along the way, keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins that are residents of Puntarenas. See if you can spot whales or turtles, and stop to observe them. Upon arrival at the island, be provided with equipment to go snorkeling, as well as instructions on how to use them. Go searching for exotic and colorful fish underwater. Spend time relaxing on the white sand in the shade of palm trees. Savor some fresh fruit for breakfast. Opt to participate in other activities at an extra cost. Rent a jet ski or a kayak, or go paddleboarding. After you have explored the island, head back for lunch on the beach. Enjoy cold drinks and a coffee along with it. Hop back in the boat to be taken back to your hotel at the end of the day.

From San José: Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour

6. 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.

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.

From San Jose: Zipline, ATV and more Full-Day Tour w/ Lunch

10. From San Jose: Zipline, ATV and more Full-Day Tour w/ Lunch

On this tour you will get to visit the town of Jaco Beach, one of the most popular beach towns in all of Costa Rica due to its proximity to the capital city of San Jose; along the way you will enjoy some breathtaking views of the mountains, shortly after you will get to stop at the word famous Tarcoles River, where you will have the opportunity to view and take photos of crocodiles in their natural environment, some of them measuring up to 19ft long. Your next stop is at Vista Los Suenos Adventure Park, here you will have the opportunity to enjoy one of the best Zip Line Tours in Costa Rica, and our Action packed ATV jungle adventure in the rain forest, crossing rivers, muddy paths and ocean view lookout spots.

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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

4.2 / 5

based on 54 reviews

I had a great day, would do it again anytime. The only thing I didn't like was that the island was very crowded and there was loud partying on the beach. I was hoping that there would be a quieter corner to hike to. But I can still recommend it. April, our tour guide was super nice and helpful. I can only recommend the hike on the island for anyone who wants some peace and quiet and not just lying on the beach

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.

Our guide was very knowledgeable about the animals and plants that we were seeing. He did a very good job of setting the telescope, and enabling us to take pictures with it. We enjoyed this immensely. Highly recommend this tour.

Rigo was an amazing tour guide! Learned so much from him and he takes the best pictures!

Great. Good food. Amazing places. Friendly and knowledgeable guide