Walking and Hiking

Information on some of the most popular parks and reserves for walking and other outdoor activities...

One quarter of the land in Costa Rica has been set aside for protective parks and reserves. The country has almost 200 protected zones (zonas protegidas), national parks (parques nacionales) and wildlife reserves (reserves).

Many of the national parks have well-marked trails, for hikers of all abilities. For some hikes, a permit or local guide is required, and it is advisable to inform the local ranger station before setting out on a long or overnight hike. Permission is required to camp, except in designated campsites.

Some of the popular national parks in Costa Rica for walking include:

  • Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal (PNVA; Arenal Volcano National Park): The park is home to the country’s most active volcano
  • Parque Nacional Barra Honda (Barra Honda National Park): This national park is popular with spelunkers who come to explore the Pre-Columbian limestone caves
  • Parque Nacional Chirripó (Chirripó National Park) home to Costa Rica’s tallest mountain, the Cerro Chirripó (elevation 3,820 meters/12,533 feet)
  • Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas (Las Baulas National Marine Park): Located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the park has a nesting colony of Leatherback sea turtles
  • Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba (Turrialba Volcano National Park): This not-heavily-visited national park includes active volcanoes that visitors can explore
  • Parque Internacional La Amistad (La Amistad International Park): A UNESCO World Heritage Site, half of the park lies in Costa Rica and half in Panama
  • For a complete list from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute of all of Costa Rica's National Parks, Reserves, and Protected Zones (including maps): Click here

Canopy Tours (Ziplining)

Canopy tours (also known as ziplining) are very popular and are available throughout much of the country. The activity stemmed from techniques using rock-climbing equipment, platforms and cables that ecologists used in the 1970s to study the treetops in Costa Rica’s many forests. Today visitors can use similar systems to explore the treetops and view wildlife. Most of Costa Rica’s national parks have canopy tour operators.

  • For more information from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute on canopy tours and ecotourism in Costa Rica: Click here