Costa Rica is located between Panama and Nicaragua, and though it's in a troubled region of the world, the country has a long history of political stability and peace. It also has a well-developed tourism industry, which has helped market it as a prime eco-tourism spot.
Roughly one quarter of the country has been designated as national parks, most of which are well maintained. Typically, visitors pay only a small fee to visit areas of great biological diversity.
Tortuguero National Park, located on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, is a roughly 47,000-acre park that is a haven for many species of wildlife, including tapirs, jaguars, river otters and manatees. For many visitors the highlight of the park is the turtle nesting area. There, green sea turtles lay their eggs between June and October. Visitors can also take a special night tour, in which they can watch female green sea turtles go ashore and lay eggs.
Guanacaste National Park and Santa Rosa National Park are located in the northern part of the country and border the Pacific Ocean. Here you'll find savannas, marshlands and deciduous forests. The park is home to three species of monkeys, wild parrots and bats and boasts a beach, where olive ridley turtles come to nest in early fall. Surf huge waves at the beaches of Playa Naranjo and Playa Potrero Grande.
Many of the 25 Costa Rican national parks are located in the interior of the country. See an active volcano close up at Poás National Park, a short drive from San José, the capital. As long as the volcano is not active, visitors can reach almost to the top of the volcano.
For another close look at a volcano travel to Arenal Volcano National Park. Located in the center north of the country, Arenal offers visitors a chance to see an erupting volcano from a safe distance. Visit the nearby Tabacón hot springs and a spend a day in a series of warm water pools heated by the volcano.