Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge picture
Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
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Kryssia Campos/Getty Images

Key Info

South of Fortuna

Details

Sightseeing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 3.5Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Bird-watchers rejoice: This swampy wildlife refuge houses thousands of water birds, including jabiru storks, cormorants, ducks and roseate spoonbills. This haven sits near La Fortuna and you'll notice an abundance of sea dwellers as you stroll along the Caño Lake and Frío River. You'll also find large crocodiles crawling through muddy swamps and jaguars, turtles and sloths roaming the wetlands. But if you're in Costa Rica between January and April, skip exploring Caño Negro; during these months the lagoon becomes dry and the local sea creatures flock to other places.

Recent travelers praised the refuge's warm staff saying they possess a wealth of knowledge about where to look for the area's rare bird species and wildlife. Many visitors also recommend bringing insect repellent and binoculars. 

The best way to visit Caño Negro – set on the brink of the Nicaraguan border – is on a daytrip from La Fortuna, which sits about 60 miles south of the refuge. From La Fortuna, a variety of full-day tours are available. Past visitors reported good experiences with Canoa Aventura and Arenal Expeditions. The refuge welcomes visitors every day between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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Nicoya Peninsula
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#1 Nicoya Peninsula

The Nicoya Peninsula's sparkling 80-mile shoreline boasts beach-centric towns with cream-colored shores and dense forests. Half of the peninsula is found in the Guanacaste province, while the other half sits in the Puntarenas province. Nosara Beach's powdery sands line the Nicoya Peninsula's western edge. You'll also find fishing and cattle-ranching communities east of the rustic coastline. After a significant rise in tourism that began in the 1970s, an influx of restaurants and hotels have enticed visitors to the peninsula's sandy coast.

Recent travelers highlight Nosara Beach's gorgeous sunsets, colorful fish and turquoise waters as ideal for surfers and beach lovers alike. But be warned: shade is minimal (and it gets hot!) and the undertow can be challenging; sunset walks on the beach are highly encouraged. Other hot spots include Mal País and Montezuma, a charming coastal town that boasts affordable hotel accommodations and untamed splendors, like magnificent waterfalls and gentle cerulean waves.

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