The Best Night Tours in Costa Rica
Did you know that more than half of Costa Rica’s wildlife is nocturnal? Take one of the best night tours in Costa Rica to meet some of the most iconic and elusive wildlife in the country!
Costa Rica may be best known as an adventurous playground by day, but it’s at night that things really get interesting. This amazing country is home to over half a million distinct animal species and, although you will undoubtedly see plenty of iconic wildlife during the day—especially if enjoy your activities way off the tourist trail – there are many you can only see on a guided night tour.
The best night tours in Costa Rica and all the amazing creatures you could spot?
Your wild adventure starts right here!
Here’s what we’ll cover on this guide:
- What Can You Expect to See on a Night Tour in Costa Rica
- The Best Night Tours in Costa Rica
- What to Know About Taking Night Tours in Costa Rica
- Why Can Night Tours Be More Rewarding in Costa Rica?
What Can You Expect to See on a Night Tour in Costa Rica?
From raccoons munching on crabs to banded armadillos, three distinct species of opossums, as well as sloths, collared anteaters, a whole flurry of endemic bats, skunks, pacas, porcupines, coatis and, let’s not forget, the most iridescent colored frogs in the world.
These are just some of the amazing animals you could see on a night tour in Costa Rica!
The Best Night Tours in Costa Rica
Let’s preface this by stating that almost everywhere you can take a daytime wildlife watching tour in Costa Rica, you will find the equivalent night-time option on offer. However, every destination is home to its own specific array of wildlife, most of which are not seen elsewhere. That’s why avid animal lovers choose to take several night tours in different places, to have a greater overview of Costa Rica’s nocturnal species.
We’ll also add that the guide you choose can make (or not) your night. A professional and knowledgeable guide will offer tons of information, so you’ll learn a lot about all the animals you’re seeing.
Ok, time for the real deal: here are the best spots to enjoy a night tour in Costa Rica!
Monteverde Cloud Forest Night Tour
The cloud forests of Monteverde are absolutely magical by day. You can only imagine how unreal they are at night. With over 100 mammal species alone (half of which are bats!) and over 1,000 amphibians and reptiles, there are a ton of animals to see here, especially at night.
A night walk through this incredible forest reveals a totally different world, one where foxes, vipers, spiders, sloths, monkeys, armadillos and frogs reign over their kingdom. All five of Costa Rica’s big cats inhabit Monteverde—jaguar, jaguarundi, oncilla, puma, ocelot and margay—although sightings of these really come down to sheer good luck.
See all our Monteverde Activity Options
Tortuguero Night Tours
Remote and resplendent Tortuguero is a jewel in Costa Rica’s wildlife crown, and revered as one of the world’s prime turtle-nesting spots. Although night walks through the jungle are offered year-round, turtle-nesting night tours are only offered during, well, nesting season!
Visit Costa Rica between early July and the end of October and you’ll be in prime turtle-nesting season in Tortuguero. The country hosts four species of sea turtles – Olive Ridley, Leatherback, Green and Hawksbill – and all four head to Tortuguero to nest between July and October.
Learn more about Tortuguero!
Ostional Wildlife Refuge Night Tour for Olive Ridley arribadas
This is a very specific tour that homes in on one species of sea turtle: the Olive Ridley. Why is this so special? Because the Olive Ridley is the only turtle species that nests en mass along the beaches of the Ostional protected reserve on the Pacific Coast. The numbers are eye-popping!
Head to Ostional between May and the end of October and you could see thousands of mama turtles trudging the beach to birth their young. These mass-nesting events are known as arribadas, and they are one of nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles.
Time it right, and you could be in for the Costa Rica night tour of a lifetime!
Learn more about Costa Rica’s incredible arribadas
Corcovado National Park Night Tour
The rain forest comes to life at night in Corcovado, the wildest and most bio diverse reserve in all of Costa Rica. As an off-the-beaten-path destination, this Osa Peninsula highlight is actually very rewarding by day as well, but night-time tours bring the wildlife-spotting ventures to a whole other level.
Equipped with a headlight, hiking boots and in the company a knowledgeable naturalist guide, you’ll feast your eyes on some of the most unique snakes, insects and amphibians in Costa Rica. If you’re on a family adventure vacation in Costa Rica with kids who are snakes and bugs obsessed, this is the place you shouldn’t miss!
Corcovado is home to stunning glass frogs, coatis, scorpions, lizards and so much more.
See all our Corcovado Activity Options
Manuel Antonio Night Tour
The fab thing about Costa Rica is that you don’t need to head to the remotest corners to enjoy a fabulously rewarding night tour. Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the country’s prime tourist spots, is actually a fantastic wildlife-spotting destination, although mostly on night tours.
This park is small, compact and hosts an impressive concentration of wildlife. Yet sheer visitor numbers by day means the animals can be tricky to see, especially along busy walking trails. Take a night jungle tour instead and you can balloon your chances of seeing local wildlife.
Manuel Antonio is the best place to see the red eye leaf frog (the pin up of Costa Rica amphibians!) and so many vipers, snakes, and frogs to fill your wildlife soul!
Check out our Manuel Antonio Activity Options
Arenal Volcano Night Walk
The canopy tour and hanging bridges of Arenal are the prime highlight in Costa Rica. Take the same tour at night, however, and it will blow your mind even more!
The night tours of Arenal showcases the park’s most unique plants and animals, the dark heightening your senses like nothing else. Here, you can see parrot snakes and coatis, monkeys, deer and, if you’re lucky, even a jaguar!
There’s an abundance of exciting Activity Options in Arenal
Bahia Rica Bioluminescence Night Tour, Nicoya Peninsula
One the south-eastern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula is where you can experience a kayak night tour to see ethereal bioluminescence. The type of plankton that glows in the dark thrives in abundance just off the coast here—these algae grow under very specific conditions, namely warm lagoons with narrow openings to the sea. Although you can see some from the beach, kayaking through it is a phenomenal experience.
Bioluminescence tours are best time on the darkest of nights so, if you can, avoid full-moon, crystal clear evenings.
Head to La Nicoyana (right by the Paquera car ferry port) and join a Costa Rica night tour that’s out of this world!
Discover the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica’s wild west!
What to Know About Taking Night Tours in Costa Rica
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Dress appropriately – the tropical jungles and rain forests of Costa Rica is where biting insects also thrive. Wear long trousers, long sleeve tops and hiking boots, no matter where you are. Bring insect repellent!
Pack a flashlight – the best outfitters will provide headlamps for everyone, but having your own is much better
Don’t cancel if it rains! – Instead, pack wet-weather gear (which you should pack, anyhow) and don’t miss your night tour. When it rains, wildlife is particularly active so yes, you might get a little soggy, but who cares when you’ll see so much more?!
Don’t think ‘done one, done them all’ – Every corner of every rain forest has particular appeal, so don’t make the mistake of thinking every night tour in Costa Rica is similar. Different places, different guides, different nights and you can enjoy wildly different tours!
Consider taking a night tour in a private reserve too – Costa Rica is home to over two dozen national parks and an incredible number of private reserves, many of which also offer night tours. Usually, these reserves are owned and run by a passionate family of conservationists and they know their turf like no one else. Night tours of private reserves can be especially rewarding, especially if visiting Costa Rica during prime tourist season, a time when night tours of the most popular spots sell out every day.
Check with your chosen eco-lodge – The country’s best eco-lodge is usually set within private reserves as well, and offer a wealth of in-house activities, including guided night tours. In Costa Rica, you really don’t need to go far to enjoy a night tour!
Don’t skimp on the guide – The best night tour guides in Costa Rica are biologists and naturalists. Many have spent years studying the country’s wilderness and can spot an animal a mile away. They also know a lot about every animal and have a passion for showcasing their favorite playgrounds. On night tours, in particular, it pays to pay, if you catch our drift!
Why Can Night Tours in Costa Rica Be More Rewarding for Wildlife Spotting?
Make no mistake: you will probably see quite a few wild animals on your Costa Rica adventure vacation. Yet most sightings are spontaneous, short and sweet. They happen by chance and yes, as much as they can literally make your day, they are nearly impossible to plan.
If you’ve ever visited a rain forest before, you will know why!
Jungles and rain forests are amazing ecosystems, defined by dense wilderness and thick foliage. As ethereal as the experience is, this isn’t the landscape that makes wildlife-spotting easy. Rain forests are dense and let a little light through, so animals can hide in a myriad of ways. Unless you have an experienced local guide by your side, your chances of seeing a lot of wildlife aren’t all that great. This is especially true if you’re hunting for larger mammals, first and foremost.
But here’s the thing: over three quarters of Costa Rica’s mammals are nocturnal. The rest (the species that are active during the day) are masters of disguise and especially shy. Nocturnal animals are less shy as they don’t suffer the predator-anxiety of their daytime-active cousins.
If you’re a wildlife lover who’s out for some serious animal spotting activity, then best you include some of Costa Rica’s best night tours on your vacation itinerary!
At Costa Rica Rios, we offer package adventure tours that take care of you and your adventure-seeking loved ones from the moment you arrive until you’re (probably not) ready to go home. Our week-long adventures are chock-full of exciting activities like whitewater rafting and kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, canyoning, zip lining (and more!) and can tailor design an itinerary to suit your budget and desires.
Amazing night-time guided walks can easily be part of the plan! In fact, we encourage you to include incredible walks at night through the wilderness, provided you have enough energy left over a full day of incredible fun. Ask us how to include the best night torus in Costa Rica on your itinerary and you can be sure you’ll experience the magic of this amazing country.
Want to know more? Then contact us today and start planning the adventure of a lifetime in Costa Rica!