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Recognizing and Celebrating Costa Rica’s Greatest Treasures: National Parks

On August 24th, Costa Rica celebrates National Parks Day. At a time when the world is on fire and there is less and less nature to observe, this is vital. Recognizing the importance and celebrating the existence of nature, in all of its raw beauty, makes me love Costa Rica that much more. After all, 25% of Costa Rica is National Parks (or so Google tells me).

Does Canada have this? Is it Canada day? I know it was free for the 150 year, but is that it? I feel like I should know the answer to this. If we don’t, we definitely should! For all you Politicians reading this (lol), take notes!

Okay, we didn’t actually go to a national park on Parks day, BUT, in the nearly three months since we have been here, we’ve had the opportunity to visit several of the most beautiful National Parks of Costa Rica. So, while I wasn’t physically celebrating in a National Park (we were at the beach!), I reminisced about how lucky we are that we get to experience these parks.

So here’s a list of our experiences at 5 of Costa Rica’s National Parks:

Irazú Volcano National Park

Irazú is probably one of the closest parks to where we live, so we visited it first. I wrote all about that experience here. Irazú is the highest volcano in Costa Rica with a beautiful little crater lake that changes colour from a beautiful turquoise blue to red. And being so high up, it also has temperatures that feel like autumn in Canada. I knew I packed sweaters for a reason. On a good day (ie. not the day we were there), you can see both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the country. This is now on my Costa Rica bucket list of experiences.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio was our first weekend trip to the beach which you can read all about here. The park is the home of many sloths, monkeys, a million dirt crabs, colourful birds and fauna, and beautiful beaches with water temperatures to match a bathtub. It really has it all. What isn’t there to love? It was our first sloth, monkey, and beach experience since moving to Costa Rica, so it holds a special place in our hearts. This is also where I learned to make sure your flash is off when you try to take pictures of animals or you will get yelled at by a tour guide.

Marino Ballena National Park

The Whale tail park (wrote about it here)! The beach forms into a whale tail at low tide. It’s kind of hard to describe how cool it looks when the water meeting in the middle of the whale tail and pictures never do it justice. Also, watching people try to go out to the tip of the tail before low tide is highly entertaining. Prime people watching spot. Just don’t sit under a coconut tree. You may get knocked out by a falling coconut. Another important lesson learned in a national park.

Poás Volcano National Park

Poás Volcano is active. And by active, I mean could blow at any moment and has steam constantly coming out of it. It last erupted in 2017. Luckily, we got in and out without experiencing an eruption. Most of the park is still closed to the public because of the current volcanic activity which is a bit of a bummer because it looks like there are some really cool hiking trails. Right now, you essentially go in, get a video orientation in a mini theatre, grab a hard hat, walk to the volcano lookout and then, head back. While cool, I look forward to the day we can explore more of National Park around the Volcano without fear getting swept away by hot lava (that’s how it works, right?).

Tapantí National Park

Another park that is fairly close to where we live, so we can drive there, hike 16 kms, visit some hot springs, and make it home with plenty of time to cook dinner and chill before passing out hard (deserved after those 16kms). Tapantí has the most clear, beautiful river running through the park that has hiking trails right to the river edge. I am always mesmerized by the clarity of water here; so blue yet so clear. There were very few people there when we visited, so it felt like we had this little piece of paradise all to ourselves. There is more for us to explore in this park, so we will be back.

There are plenty more parks for us to explore. I look forward to adding to this list! Stay tuned…

“Get lost in nature and you will find yourself.”

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