By Laura Alvarado – June 1, 2018 As published in The Costa Rica Star, June 1, 2018
National Parks, Wildlife Protected Areas, Biological Corridors, Protected Zones, Forest Reserves, Costa Rica has a number of protected areas that represent one of the country’s biggest assets as they attract millions of tourists every year.
The options of different National Parks to visit are many, 28 to be exact and 72 protected areas of variable types that represent 26% of the total area of the country; but there are three in particular that are currently the most popular among visitors:
1. Manuel Antonio National Park: This park has maintained the first place for several years. Located in the area of Quepos, Puntarenas, it received over 475 thousand visitors last year. The combination of lush, unspoiled forest, beautiful white sand beaches, coral reefs and wildlife as well as lively community and amenities, make Manuel Antonio an obligatory stop in your visit to Costa Rica.
2. Irazu Volcano National Park: The Irazu volcano escalated from fourth to second place in one year, this spot used to belong to the Poas Volcano National Park, which has been closed for over one year due to several important eruptions. Now, Irazu absorbed some of the visitors and takes second place with over 343 thousand tourists (from an average 140 thousand in the past). This is the highest volcano in Costa Rica, it is located in Cartago with easy access from San Jose.
3. Marino Ballena National Park : The famous whale tail, maintains its third place in the most visited national parks in the country, but it went from close to 143 thousand visitors to over 167 thousand this last year. With an extension of 110 land hectares and 5,375 marine hectares, the main attraction of this park are the sightings of whales and dolphins that take place during several months and also the natural formation of rocks and sand in the shape of a whale’s tail, one of Costa Rica’s wonders.