What’s the Number One Tourist Attraction in Costa Rica?

map of costa rica

Our adventure in Costa Rica was quite amazing. As the country is about the size of West Virginia, we were able to explore just about every region in a month. Enough time to discover Costa Rica’s number one tourist attraction. Going with our travel mantra, We can’t see it all. Assume we’ll be back, we saved the Osa Peninsula for a later visit. Next time, during the rainy season with a four wheeled drive vehicle.

So what IS the number one tourist draw in Costa Rica? It’s not the tasty waves, not the rice and beans, certainly not the crappy roads, not zip-lining with monkeys OR the hot springs. The number one tourist draw is. . . drum roll please. . .  the sloth!

The Sloth

sloth sleeping in a tree

It’s true! The tourists just could not leave Costa Rica until they had a personal encounter with a sloth. Driving along we had traffic stopped in both directions in order for a tour company to make a few extra tips by spotting a sloth, then ushering out from the bus, lines of tourists in order for them to take a few photos of this sloth.

Our river raft guide interrupted our lunch to show us a sloth mother with its two babies. This rare slumber of sloths was hunkered down low in a tree just feet away.

momma sloth & two babies

THREE, two-toed sloths! A very special treat: up close & personal

In Cahuita National Park, I wanted to spot a sloth before any ranger pointed one out. Slow moving and quiet, they’re very difficult to spot. Once you know where to look, spotting them becomes like a game. You scope one out, stand there aiming up with a finger, and before you know it, people clamber over to shoot the sloth with their cameras. No jungle cammo gear required. Just a keen eye.

juvenile sloth

juvenile sloth

One morning, we were quietly reading in the lobby of our hostel when the resident dog, Abby, barked a few times before we noticed a sloth just feet away making its way back up a tree. Apparently, sloths come down from the trees once a week to poop. We didn’t actually catch this guy pooping, but he looked much relieved and in slow motion made his way back up the jungle canopy.

three toed sloth

This sloth was so close. Three toes and an arms length away, Hali hinted at taking a selfie. Not a fan of selfies, I reminded her that not only was that tacky but could get her thrown in a Costa Rican jail with nothing but beans and rice, three squares. The local people are very serious about protecting the native wildlife.

So, if you find yourself in Costa Rica behind two lanes of stand still traffic in both directions, your lunch interrupted by a tour guide, or your B & B’s dog barking, take a moment to fetch your camera. No need to run, stay calm, there’s plenty of time. These guys don’t get away quickly, and by all measures, are not camera shy.two snuggle monkeys

As for these monkeys, Pura Vida!! Life is Good!!

About Woody

We are a couple who took the first step toward a life of traveling in May, 2015. Staying within the continental US, we amp'd the adventure-factor by traveling in a VW Vanagon, circa 1985. Our mission is to share irresistible and compelling stories conceived from this lifestyle of travel.

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