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San José, Costa Rica

Birdwatching

Our most recommended San José, Costa Rica Birdwatching

Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

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

2. 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.

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 José: Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour

4. 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 optional 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 white 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

5. 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’s 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 Jose: Full-Day Costa Rica Birdwatching Tour

6. 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.    

Monteverde: Full-Day Adventure Tour

7. Monteverde: Full-Day Adventure Tour

Treat yourself to a fun-filled day exploring all the very best of Monteverde. Tour the Butterfly Garden and the Sloth Sanctuary alongside an expert guide. Walk the impressive suspension bridges, and discover the Hummingbird Garden and the Reptile and Amphibian Exhibit 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. The Hummingbird Garden should not be missed. Visitors can view up to 14 species of these tiny, colorful birds here, which will awe you with their breathtaking flying tricks. The Reptile and Amphibian Exhibit features approximately 30 species of native Costa Rican frogs, toads, lizards, geckos, and snakes. Visit these magnificent facilities and learn about Costa Rica's herpetology while accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. At the Sloth Sanctuary, take the opportunity to observe 20 different species of sloths. A natural exhibition has been developed where sloths can move freely along specially made trails.

Frequently asked questions about San José, Costa Rica Birdwatching

What are other things to do than Birdwatching that are worth visiting in San José, Costa Rica?

The other unmissable things to do in San José, Costa Rica are:

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 went on the Carara National Park and Tárcoles River Tour, from San José. The experience exceeded expectations by miles, Oropopo were streaks ahead of any other tour operator that I used here. I was picked up by Rigo, from my hotel, in a Land Cruiser rather than cramped minibus. The group was very small, making us more nimble. Rigo is a fantastic guide. It was a privilege to be experiencing nature and being advised by such a qualified biologist. His English is perfect, and he was good fun. The Carara National Park was lovely and quiet, in contrast to the absolutely packed Manuel Antonio National Park. There may be less of the big mammals here, but there's fascinating stuff to see. We were lucky to see a pair of fantastic scarlet macaws. The river tour was an incredible experience. It is an extensive tour, going up and down the river and then into mangroves. You'll see lots of huge crocodiles, very close up. The bird life is also spectacular. The guide on the boat was entertaining

In the way to Arenal we saw amazing sights, mountains, waterfalls, huge lizards, colorful birds and more. The rainforest ziplining was awe inspiring, the meals were delicious, and the hotspring pools were luxurious. Our guide, Jeff, was friendly and knowledgeable. It was an amazing day.

This tour was amazing! We not only got to see sloths and birds, we also got to see the university as well. Our guide was knowledgeable and provided amazing information throughout the tour. It was an easy walking tour for all physical types, anyone can keep up!!

Ismeal was wonderful, knowledgeable and passionate. Lots of facts about Costa Rica and the campus itself. We did in fact see a sloth!!! Definitely worth a day!

Fue una experiencia maravillosa! El paisaje es increíble y los lugares que se visitan en este tour valen muchísimo la pena.