Animals of Costa Rica

Take a walk on the wild side and see an endless array of monkeys, majestic whales, nesting turtles, one of a kind birds, and sloths you’ll want to take home with you.

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Barrier Reef, Belize

Barrier Reef, Belize

Belize’s most popular tourist attraction is its 190-mile series of coral reefs. The Belize Barrier Reef is a hot destination for scuba diving and snorkeling, attracting half of its 260,000 visitors each year. 960 1280

The Asahi Shimbun / Getty Images  

Roatan Island, Honduras

Roatan Island, Honduras

Located between the islands of Utila and Guanaja, 37-mile-long Roatan Island is surrounded by one of the world’s largest barrier reefs. It’s a great destination for snorkelers and divers who can experience face-to-face encounters with marine life, including sea turtles and eagle rays. We recommend spending an hour or 2 walking along the beautiful beach near Turquoise Bay. 960 1280

iStock  

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Hike a path that leads to impressive lava flows from the still simmering but young Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Since October 2010, Arenal’s volcanic activity has been decreasing and explosions have become rare. Enjoy the picturesque scenery and take a fun road trip around Lake Arenal located nearby. 960 1280

iStock  

Cangrejal River, Honduras

Cangrejal River, Honduras

Feeling adventurous? Experience the rapids of the Cangrejal River, one of the best places in Central America to go white-water rafting. Experienced rafters can brave the river’s challenging class IV and V rapids. 960 1280

Andrew Baskett, flickr  

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

The Concepcion and Maderas volcanoes form Isla de Ometepe, a jungle island that’s home to 35,000 people, countless birdlife, cattle and howler monkeys. The island is sacred ground. Archeology buffs will enjoy spotting rocks carved into figures and pre-Columbian petroglyphs found all around the island, including its lush tropical forest. 960 1280

Eric Molina, flickr  

Panama Canal, Panama

Panama Canal, Panama

Visit the site in Panama City where the Atlantic Ocean intersects with the Pacific Ocean. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects, the 48-mile Panama Canal was built as a safe shortcut instead of taking the Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America. 960 1280

iStock  

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

The Iglesia de La Merced stands high above Granada’s multicolored one-story cottages and townhouses. We recommend taking a stroll along the town’s cobblestone streets to see the opulence and history of the old Spanish Empire. 960 1280

nakashi, Wikimedia Commons  

Costa del Sol, El Salvador

Costa del Sol, El Salvador

Sample fresh seafood at a restaurant while witnessing an amazing sunset in Costa del Sol, El Salvador. It’s the largest beach in the country and there several activities to keep beachgoers active, including sailing, horseback riding, jogging and playing a couple rounds of beach volleyball. 960 1280

Andrew Griffith, flickr  

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Travelers visiting the islands in the western Caribbean should not miss Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize. Go kite surfing in Caye Caulker, snorkeling in Shark Ray Alley, bird-watching at Lalas Bird Sanctuary and golfing at Caye Chapel Golf Resort & Marina. End the day by sitting on the pier while the waves lap at your toes. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Once a funky beach town, Tamarindo is now a prime spot for commercial development, including a variety of shops, bars and hotels. Most tourists and locals flock to the town’s beaches. We recommend heading to Playa Langosta or Playa Grande for swimming and surfing. Other outdoor options include diving, sports fishing, wildlife watching and canopy tours. 960 1280

Tamarindowiki, Wikimedia Commons  

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Guatemala’s Dulce River flows out of Lake Izabal and is a popular destination for sailboats. Surrounded by a lush forest, the entrance to the river is the Castillo de San Felipe de Lara, a Spanish fort once built to stop pirates from entering the lake from the Caribbean when this part of Guatemala was an important shipping port. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua has several ruins of colonial churches as well as well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture. Visit Cerro de la Cruz for the best view of the city or mingle with the locals around the newly reconstructed water fountain located in the city’s Parque Central (Central Park). 960 1280

Thinkstock  

La Libertad, El Salvador

La Libertad, El Salvador

Experience the gritty vitality of La Libertad, El Salvador. The small port town has a steady flow of tourists because it is known as the country’s surf capital, hosting regional and international surfing championships. The town has a serious drug problem and in some cases, foreigners are easy targets for theft and assaults. So keep your guard up and travel in numbers when possible. 960 1280

Susana Soto, flickr  

Panama City, Panama

Panama City, Panama

With a blend of old Baroque architecture and modern skyscrapers, Panama City’s landscape tells a tale of 2 cities. The city’s Casco Viejo neighborhood is steeped in rich colonial history whereas the city’s Punta Paitilla neighborhood is thriving with office towers, banks, hotels, restaurants and shops. We recommend visiting Playa Kobbe, a beach less than 20 minutes from downtown, and taking a stroll through Parque Natural Metropolitano to see more than 200 species of birds. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

The students learn how to make prestiños, flattened sweet dough balls that are deep-fried and bathed in honey syrup. 960 1280

  

Global Compass students pose for the camera inside the kitchen of a mountaintop home. 960 1280

  

Compass student Briyanah milks a cow for the first time at the University of Georgia Costa Rica's dairy. 960 1280

  

Crossing over a suspension bridge, Russell enters the rainforest for the first time. 960 1280

  

Briyanah uses her Flip cam skills to capture fun moments at Don Juan's organic farm. 960 1280

  

D'Andre gives his best "Bizarre Foods" face as he daringly tries raw yucca root. 960 1280

  

Kyrina works with Don Juan to squeeze fresh juice out of the sugar cane. 960 1280

  

A colorful toucan says good morning from high in the rainforest canopy. 960 1280

  

Imani, Jamari, Praise, Ania, De'Angelo and Curl take a moment to pose on the beach at Tortuguero. 960 1280

  

Kyrina, Jordan, Curl, Ms. Maye, Adam and Corey share their excitement when they reach the first of 13 platforms. 960 1280

  

Briyanah identifies birds during the early- morning nature walks. 960 1280

  

Curl whirls above the rainforest canopy on the zip-line in Monteverde. 960 1280

  

The students give thumbs-up after conquering the zip-line and the Tarzan swing in the Monteverde cloud forest. 960 1280

  

Baby Spider Monkey

Baby Spider Monkey

A baby spider monkey takes in some tender loving care at an animal rescue center in Costa Rica. The species is endangered due to deforestation. Spider monkeys require a large habitat: they can roam up to 2,000 meters in a single day. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Edelmar  

Spider Monkeys

Spider Monkeys

Did you know that a spider monkey female carries baby on her back? Babies are carried on their mothers' chests until they reach 2 months, at which point they switch to their mothers' backs. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Pjjones  

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback Sea Turtle

A leatherback sea turtle hatchling emerges from its nest in the sand. Leatherbacks cannot expect restful lives: according to the Journal of Experimental Biology, they spend less than 0.1% of their day at rest. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Andipantz  

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

A Scarlet Macaw looks at the camera from a tree. In captivity macaws can have lifespans of up to 50 years. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Roberto A Sanchez  

Margay

Margay

A margay lies in the grass. Margays are one of the most adept at tree climbing of the feline species, and can even descend down tree trunks head first. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/JeffGrabert  

Collared Anteater

Collared Anteater

A collared anteater, also called a tamandua, searches for food. In captivity, these animals have a more expansive diet than their name suggests: they will also eat fruits and meat. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Olof Van der Steen  

Reticulated Python

Reticulated Python

A reticulated python relaxes in a tree in Manuel Antonio National Park. Reticulated Pythons can range from 4 to 21 feet in length. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/NirutiStock  

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

A howler monkey relaxes in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Their calls, usually a sign of marking territory, can be heard up to 3 miles away. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/GregBethmann  

Baby Howler Monkey

Baby Howler Monkey

A howler monkey baby sits in a tree with his mother. Howler monkeys are polygamous, with an average ratio of 4 females to every male in a social group. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Ian MacDonnell  

Green Lizard

Green Lizard

A green lizard is camouflaged in the leaves of a tree branch. Costa Rica has a huge amount of biodiversity and is home to more than 200 species of reptiles. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/OGPhoto  

Sloths

Sloths

Young sloths hang out on a bamboo tree. Although slow movers, sloths are not as lazy as once thought: they sleep a little less than 10 hours per day. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Pchoui  

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

A colorful red-eyed tree frog perches on a vine. In order to avoid predators, these frogs cover up their blue-colored sides with their legs to blend in with their lush, green surroundings. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/JanPietruszka   

White-Headed Capuchin Monkey

White-Headed Capuchin Monkey

A white-headed Capuchin monkey scopes out his environment. Capuchins are highly intelligent and are known to use tools to crack nuts and forage for food. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Golfladi  

Coatis

Coatis

Coatis, also known by their adorable name, snookum bears, are actually part of the raccoon family. Although they have become popular pets in Central and South America, they are notoriously difficult to train. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Ian MacDonnell  

American Crocodile

American Crocodile

An American crocodile bares its teeth in the Tarcoles River, Costa Rica. If you encounter one, be sure to escape by land: this species can swim at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Zmeel  

Spiny-Tailed Iguana

Spiny-Tailed Iguana

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the black spiny-tailed iguana is the world's fastest lizard, reaching speeds of up to 21.7 miles per hour. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Jlazouphoto  

Green Iguana

Green Iguana

Despite their frightening appearance, green iguanas are herbivores and flee when encountered with danger. They may have reason to run: In some places in Central America, green iguanas are a source of food. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Cathleen Abers-Kimball  

Butterflies

Butterflies

Butterflies have only a 2% chance of surviving to adulthood in the wild. In Costa Rica there are many preserves and butterfly farms to preserve species' biodiversity. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Himagine  

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