Suspension Bridge, Savegre River
Photograph by Lucas J. Gilman/Aurora Photos
Thrill-seeking kayakers negotiate a perilous suspension bridge soaring over Costa Rica’s Savegre River, near Manuel Antonio National Park. Snaking through a lush rain forest filled with tropical birds and pristine waterfalls, the Savegre is a spectacular stretch of coastal white water.
Independence Day Celebration, Cartago
Photograph by Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images
Costa Rica’s Independence Day—September 15—commemorates its declaration of independence from Spain in 1821. These festive dancers, dressed in traditional costume, put on a show for the crowd at a carnival in Cartago. The celebrations begin on the evening of September 14 with a parade of homemade lanterns representing the news of the country’s independence arriving at night.
Photograph by Kim Nagy, My Shot
Of the 42 neotropical toucan species in Latin America, six can be found in the lowlands and rain forests of Costa Rica. These bright-billed birds inhabit the canopy layer of the rain forest, where they build nests and protect their young from forest-floor predators.
Photograph by Kris Kerr, My Shot
With over 700 miles (1,130 kilometers) of coastline touching both the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans, Costa Rica offers an endless supply of waves. Warm water, clean beaches, affordable prices, and consistent year-round conditions make it a surfer’s paradise.
Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve
Photograph by Christian Heeb/Aurora Photos
The Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve is the home of gnarled, ancient trees draped in mosses, ferns, and epiphytes. True to its name, the cloud forest is typically blanketed in cool fog, but it is this ubiquitous moisture that encourages the forest’s exuberant plant growth. Backpackers often use the nearby village of Santa Elena as their base for exploring the reserve.
Mercado Central, San Jose
Photograph by Linda Whitwam/Getty Images
A massive maze of stalls, the Mercado Central in San Jose’s city center caters mostly to locals. Peddling everything from fresh produce and roasted coffee to hand-painted oxcarts and leather goods, vendors call out to customers from small carts inside the main building and in the surrounding downtown area
Sea Turtle, Cocos Island
Photograph by Carlos Suarez, My Shot
Positioned about 340 miles (550 kilometers) south of Puntarenas, Cocos Island is an oasis in the eastern Pacific Ocean. A protected national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Cocos Island is best known for its extraordinary biodiversity. In addition to teeming populations of sharks, rays, and fish, four species of sea turtles have been recorded inside the park’s marine boundaries.
Photograph by Donna and Steve Omeara/Photo Library
Stars streak over Arenal Volcano as it puts on a fiery display for the district of La Fortuna in this time exposure. After lying dormant for hundreds of years, Arenal erupted in 1968 and has since earned the title of Costa Rica’s most active volcano.
Photograph by Raymond Pauly, My Shot
Glass frog is the common name for amphibians belonging to the family Centrolenidae, so named for their translucent abdominal skin. Indigenous to the cloud forests of Central and South America, 13 species of cloud frogs have been identified in Costa Rica. These nocturnal tree-dwelling frogs stay camouflaged during the day on the underside of leaves.
La Fortuna Waterfall
Photograph by Adam Barker/Aurora Photos
At the base of the dormant Cerro Chato Volcano in central Costa Rica, La Fortuna waterfall drops about 230 feet (70 meters) into a greenish-blue swimming hole. Horseback and hiking tours bring visitors through tropical forest to the base of the waterfall for a refreshing dip.
Photograph by Flip Nicklin
During the winter months, blue whales congregate in the Costa Rica Dome, an area of the Pacific Ocean 500 to 800 miles (800 to 1,300 kilometers) west of Costa Rica, though its exact location changes every year. Scientists have discovered that the dome serves as a key location for feeding, breeding, and calving.
Photograph by Roy Toft
A young three-toed sloth dangles languidly from vines in Osa Peninsula. Solitary, arboreal, and nocturnal creatures, sloths use their long, prominent claws for climbing around the rain forest canopies of Central and South America. The world’s slowest mammals, sloths spend an average of 18 hours a day sleeping and are most active from dusk until dawn.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Photograph by Kent Gilbert/Associated Press
Tourists take in the spectacular sunset view from a beach in Manuel Antonio National Park on the central Pacific coast. It may be the smallest of Costa Rica’s national parks, but Manuel Antonio is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, made up of mixed terrain including rain forests, beaches, and coral reefs.
2015 Traveler Photo Contest
Explore the submissions, share your favorites, and check back for the winning images.