What is the National Animal of Costa Rica? (And Where To Find Them)

So what is the National animal of Costa Rica?

When you think of Costa Rica it is natural to think of lush green jungles, beautiful beaches and of course ALL of the wildlife. But if you’re wondering what is the national animal of Costa Rica? Then the answer probably won’t be a surprise…

It’s the Sloth!

And a great choice too! Sloths are a regular sighting in Costa Rica and it never gets old spotting them. We spent 3 weeks in Costa Rica and saw sloths in multiple places so in this post, we will share with you exactly where and how you can see some Sloths too.

Sloth sleeping in a tree in Costa Rica

When did Sloths become the national animal of Costa Rica?

Sloths have been unofficially used as a symbol of Costa Rica in the Tourism Industry for years! It was only recently, in 2021, that Sloths were officially made the national animal of Costa Rica.

However, they do share this title with the white-tailed deer. Though I’m sure they don’t mind.


What is the National Animal of Costa Rica?

What Types Of Sloths Can You See In Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is home to two types of sloths; The three-fingered Brown throat sloth and Hoffmann’s two-toed Sloths.

All sloths are known to sleep A LOT but the two-toed sloths are actually nocturnal. If you manage to spot one during the day it is likely he or she will be busy having a snooze.

Sloth sitting in a tree

Where Are The Best Places To See The National Animal Of Costa Rica?

Luckily for us and the Sloths, Costa Rica has MANY national parks that are home to all kinds of wildlife. I will mention a few of our favourites for you and how to visit them. But keep in mind that wildlife in Costa Rica is everywhere!

We Saw sloths just chilling in the trees by the public beach in Manuel Antonio and also in Puerto Viejo. So if you are travelling on a budget then you are still very likely to get to see some wildlife.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Monteverde Cloud Forest is a brilliant place to go to escape the heat for a few days. However, due to its colder climate the only sloths that live up there are the two-toed Sloths.

These sloths are nocturnal which makes spotting them in Monteverde a little trickier. A good tip is to join a nighttime guided walk into the forest as the guides are brilliant at finding them and you will get to see them while they are awake.

While in Monteverde I highly recommend getting your adrenaline levels up and doing a Zip Line course. We did it whilst staying here and while we didn’t spot any Sloths as we flew through the air, it was still an incredible experience. You can also check out our 2 day itinerary for Monteverde.

Book your Ziplining day out in Monteverde here!

Zip lining in Monteverde, Costa Rica

If you are heading to Monteverde from Liberia and aren’t sure how best to make the journey then you can check out our guide.

La Fortuna

La Fortuna is another great place to spot sloths. Although that is not all there is to do in this wonderful mountain town. You can venture into the rainforests in search of the many nearby waterfalls or spend a day climbing the nearby volcano.

But if like us you came for the wildlife, then your best chance of seeing sloths in the wild in La Fortuna is to go with a guide.

Book your Sloths in the Wild Tour in La Fortuna Here!

Manuel Antonio

As I mentioned previously, Manuel Antonio was one of the places we managed to spot a sloth taking a nap in a tree right by the beach.

You can spend your day strolling up and down the public peach searching in the trees and you will most likely spot a sloth or two. Alternatively, you can actually go into Manuel Antonio National Park and see what wildlife you can spot in there.

The sloth is the national animal of Costa Rica

The Park is one of the cheaper ones to enter at around $18 per person if you go by yourselves. You don’t have to have a guide but you are going to see more if you do go in with a guide.

Check out this Guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park!

If you do choose to go on your own, you have to book your entrance online in advance, you can’t buy a ticket at the entrance. The only way to book a ticket is through this website. You will need to create a free account then you can book and pay for your tickets and choose a time slot.

I highly recommend going as early as you can. We went in the first time slot and had the beaches in the national park all to ourselves for about an hour. By 10 am they were packed full of people.

Manuel Antonio beach in costa rica is one of the best places to see the national animal of costa rica

We also spotted a sloth sleeping in a tree by the beach inside the National Park too!

Corcovado National Park

When in search of the national animal of Costa Rica, or just wildlife in general, Corcovado National Park is arguably the best place to go.

This National Park is one of the more challenging and expensive parks to get to but it is so worth it!

We went by ourselves and stayed in Drakes Bay for a few days. You can also opt for a day tour from San Jose. This option is great if you are short on time or don’t want the hassle of getting there by yourself.

Book your day tour to Corcovado National Park Here!

Corcovado National Park is so well protected that they massively restrict how many people can access the park each day, to only 330 people. There are 4 ranger stations that you can choose from to visit.

The furthest and most remote station, Sirena Ranger Station, is the one we visited. We chose this one because it is known to have the most wildlife to see.

Searching for sloths, the national animal of Costa Rica with a telescope in Corcovado national park

No matter which station you choose you will need to book your tickets a few days in advance at least as they sell out fast!

Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is a popular beach town on the east coast of Costa Rica. This town has a great laid-back vibe which suits the local sloths perfectly!

They can be found chilling in the trees around town and by the beach.

If you fancy a little more of an adventure then I recommend hiring a bike and cycling down to Cahuita National Park. This park is only around $6 to enter and is home to lots of wildlife right by the beach. Including our beloved national animal of Costa Rica.

Puerto Viejo beach in Costa Rica

What is the National Animal of Costa Rica?

Sloth Sanctuaries in Costa Rica

If you are really unlucky and have been unable to find any sloths in the wild then there is always the option of visiting a sanctuary. Sloths are not the brightest animals out there and are known to get themselves in tricky situations. Crossing roads, falling out of trees that kind of thing.

Just remember it is important to always keep in mind that not everywhere is ethical. It’s best to do some research before you visit anywhere that has captive animals, to make sure they are there for a good reason.

You can also check out our post on how to see wildlife ethically.

A sloth in a sanctuary in Costa Rica

But to help you out here are a couple of sanctuaries that are doing great work in rescuing Sloths in Costa Rica.

🦥 Selvature Park Sloth Sanctuary – This is the sanctuary we visited and we were impressed by the space and enrichment opportunities available to the resident sloths. You are taken in by a guide, with a tour every hour so all visitors are supervised and they will tell you all about the sloths while you are in there.

It is a great way to learn more about them as a species and how they came to be in the sanctuary. You can check out their website here.

🦥 The Sloth Institute in Manuel Antonio – If you have more time to spare then an awesome project to volunteer for or support is the sloth institute. They have various campaigns on the go to help conserve Costa Ricas National Animals. They also vitally have a rescue, rehab and release program which is amazing!

If you are interested in supporting them or volunteering then you can find them here.

close up of the national animal of Costa Rica - the sloth

Costa Ricas National Animal – Final Thoughts

Costa Rica is a haven for wildlife and especially the sloth. We felt pretty privileged to get to see the National Animal of Costa Rica up close so many times during our short stay there.

Hopefully, this post will help you get to enjoy them just as much as we did.