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Palo Verde National Park
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Palo Verde National Park, located on the banks of the Tempisque River on the northern half of the Nicoya Peninsula, is one of the lesser-known national parks in the Guanacaste Province. However, visitors who prioritize paying a visit to Palo Verde National Park during their trip to Costa Rica won’t be disappointed — they’ll be greeted by rich biodiversity, including hundreds of exotic bird species, tons of unique wildlife, and one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems.
So, what should you know before visiting Palo Verde National Park? Great question! Here’s everything you need to know about visiting this national park, including the cost and hours, what to pack, and the best things to do while exploring the park.
Overview Of Palo Verde National Park in Costa Rica
Palo Verde National Park is located on the banks of the Tempisque River (Rio Tempisque) on the northern half of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. The Tempisque Conservation Area and the national park are an hour’s drive from the Liberia Airport (LIR) and about a two-hour drive from coastal towns in Guanacaste, like Playa Flamingo, Playas del Coco, and Playa Hermosa.
Palo Verde National Park spans 45,000 acres and is one of Central America’s last remaining tropical dry forests. The tropical dry forest is an endangered ecosystem, which makes this park one of the most important protected areas in Costa Rica. In addition to the endangered dry forest, Palo Verde National Park encompasses lagoons, grasslands, forests, and mangrove swamps.
Hours & Cost
Palo Verde National Park is open daily from 8 AM – 4 PM. There is a ranger station with public restrooms. The cost to enter the park is $12 per person.
Popular Attractions in Palo Verde National Park in Costa Rica
Palo Verde National Park is home to nearly 300 species of migratory birds, and it’s also one of the most important sites for migratory birds in Central America. This means that avid bird watchers will love birding in Palo Verde National Park during every season!
During the dry season from December to April, you can spot migratory birds like the Scarlet Macaw and Toucan. However, during the wet season from May to November, Palo Verde National Park attracts tons of aquatic birds, including Wood Storks, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, and the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck. You can spend time bird watching on a wildlife tour, boat tour, or guided hike in Palo Verde National Park. If you’re particularly interested in bird watching, choose a boat tour to Isla de los Pájaros (Bird Island) — a nesting colony for wading birds.
Palo Verde Boat Tour
Palo Verde boat tours are an extremely popular way to explore Palo Verde National Park. You’ll be able to see both wildlife and birds and observe this national park’s unique ecosystem.
Most boat tours depart from Puerto Humo, a small town just outside the national park. However, many boat tours are marketed as a “combo tour” with other activities added, like a traditional Costa Rican lunch or a rum tour on the sugar cane plantations, and include round-trip transportation to the meeting point from vacation rentals and hotels in beach towns along the Pacific Coast.
A boat ride in Palo Verde National Park usually lasts between one and two hours. Your experienced guide will point out any wildlife or birds, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take photos along the way.
Hiking & Mountain Biking
Another option for exploring Palo Verde National Park, besides a popular boat tour, is to rent mountain bikes from the Organization for Tropical Studies Station to explore some of the less-visited parts of the park while biking. If you’re interested in learning more about the tropical dry forest ecosystem, you can also take a guided hike or short walk on the hiking trails throughout the park.
Other National Parks
Best Time to Visit Palo Verde National Park in Costa Rica
There are several unique benefits to visiting Palo Verde National Park during both the dry season and the rainy season in Costa Rica.
During the dry season (December – April), you’ll have the chance to spot the most birds since this is when the migratory birds are in the park. However, during the rainy season (May – November), you’ll have a better chance of seeing baby reptiles and wildlife, like crocodiles, and aquatic birds.
Regardless of the time of year you visit, you’ll have a good chance of seeing several species of both mammals and birds, including monkeys, deer, scarlet macaws, herons, and more.
What to Bring to Palo Verde National Park in Costa Rica
Don’t forget to bring (or wear) the following during a day trip to Palo Verde National Park:
- Binoculars — For the best view of wildlife from your boat, be sure to bring binoculars to see crocodiles wading in the water, monkeys swinging through the trees, and birds hanging out on Bird Island or elsewhere in the park.
- Camera — You’ll have many opportunities to take photos during a boat tour or guided hike. Be sure to bring a camera with a great “zoom” lens to capture incredible images of exotic mammals, unique reptiles, migratory birds, and waterfowl.
- Sun protection — Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a shaded hat are all great accessories to bring on a day trip to Palo Verde National Park. Many areas of the park are not shaded, so creating your “own shade” is essential.
- Bug spray — The waterways in Palo Verde National Park attract plenty of bugs, including mosquitos, so be sure to spray yourself in bug spray to keep these pesky bugs away.
- Backpack — Bring a backpack where you can keep extra bug spray and sunscreen, and also pack a water bottle, snacks, and other essentials to keep you fueled throughout the day.
- Comfortable clothes — We recommend wearing a short-sleeve shirt, a hat, shorts, and comfortable walking shoes to Palo Verde National Park, especially if you’ll be visiting during the dry season when it’s hot and sunny.
Stay with Special Places of Costa Rica for Quick Access to Palo Verde National Park
From a boat tour on the Tempisque River to a wildlife tour to observe the unique mammal, reptile, and bird species in Palo Verde National Park — you’re sure to be amazed (and have learned a lot!) about Costa Rica’s flora and fauna after spending a day in Palo Verde National Park.
Special Places of Costa Rica offers several vacation rentals in the beach towns of Guanacaste that provide easy access to Palo Verde National Park and tons of other great things to do in Costa Rica, like fishing, surfing, and diving. We also offer several tour options in this national park, including this great tour — the Palo Verde Wildlife Safari by Boat Tour — that includes round-trip transportation from your vacation rental, a 1.5-hour boat tour, and a traditional Costa Rican lunch.