Activities Attractions Protected Areas

The Monteverde tourism zone is known around the world for its conservation efforts and lifestyle centered around respect for nature.

Santa Elena is the area鈥檚 main service center with various shops and tourism companies; other important towns are San Luis and San Gerardo. Though its main attraction is the Monteverde Biological Preserve, the region also features a variety of natural places, picturesque paths, flora- and fauna-watching opportunities, natural landscapes and more.


Owing to the area鈥檚 attractions and environment, activities are centered around natural history and adventure; possible tourist activities include bird- (especially the resplendent quetzal), wildlife- and nature-watching, hiking, canopy tours, trips to suspension bridges and visits to butterfly and frog gardens.


Monteverde鈥檚 most significant tourist activities rest on nature and adventure; however, a cultural component is being revived thanks to the influence of the Quaker community that still dwells in Monteverde and that through much effort has achieved considerable development of the area.


The resplendent quetzal is the area鈥檚 most striking bird; the wet forest is its habitat. Alongside the quetzal, the bellbird and the umbrella bird also stand out. Hummingbirds, goldfinches and other birds may also be admired.


Several hotels and mountain lodges, as well as family operations, offer horseback-riding tours through typical villages, picturesque trails and wet forest, with the final destination usually being a waterfall or other scenic natural spot.


Picturesque trails lead between mountain and forest areas to typical towns such as San Luis and San Gerardo, as well as to the Santa Elena and Monteverde preserves.


Several options are available for observing life and activity in the treetops: several species of monkey, birds, snakes and the forest canopy itself, as well as different varieties of orchids, bromeliads, pinguins, climbing plants, parasites and communities of insects and pollinators.

As a complement to all this, tourists can live the adventure of walking over suspension bridges, gliding through the canopy on zip lines anchored to platforms, or swinging from the seat of an aerial tram.
Canopy, Sky Walk, Sky Trek and Natural Wonder Tram are options for visitors to enjoy adventure and nature.


Photography is promising in this region, thanks to the wealth of flora and fauna, especially birds, as well as a variety of cultural, architectural and landscape possibilities.


Nature, climate and peacefulness make this region a popular destination for national and international visitors enjoying their honeymoons.


As a complement to the area鈥檚 activities, art, painting, pottery, and Spanish courses and workshops are available.


In these places, visitors can observe diverse species of butterflies, around 40 snake species and the natural history of the region鈥檚 frogs in terrariums that simulate their habitat.



Situated in the Tilarán mountain range, Santa Elena is a very distinctive community: a mix of rural area and developing city, of paved streets and gravel roads. At an altitude of 1,330 meters, the town enjoys cool temperatures; its irregular topography makes for pleasant scenery.

Offering a variety of commercial and tourism services, Santa Elena is accessible from Tilarán, Juntas de Abangares, the Sardinal鈥揋uacimal road and the old Río Lagarto road, and offers a spectacular view of the Gulf of Nicoya.


The Quakers came to the Monteverde area in the fifties in the hopes of following their traditional way of life. They undertook agricultural and livestock activities, and eventually formed a dairy cooperative that has also benefited the area鈥檚 Costa Rican residents.

The Quaker community built a school and shared education with Santa Elena鈥檚 Costa Ricans, thus enabling a bilingual culture that today is a strength in serving the nature-loving tourists who visit the area.

Though it is true that few of the original colonists remain, a number of their customs and practices have been maintained, including Quaker Meetings, which involve varied commentaries and readings on world peace.

With great vision, the Quakers protected the high zone of the Tilarán mountain range; today, it is one of the country鈥檚 most visited protected areas, where the beauty of the region鈥檚 flora and fauna may be enjoyed by all.


This event takes place during the first months of the year to take advantage of the dry season and high season for tourists. Different musical groups advocating music in harmony with nature are invited from around the country.


This is a visit to the Cooperative鈥檚 coffee plantations in the community of San Luis, where visitors are shown the process and taken to the roasting company to taste the final product.


Located in San Luis, this is an impressive 300-meter waterfall. Getting to it requires a short hike on which visitors can enjoy the surrounding natural beauty.


The main attraction here is observing how cheese is made and buying dairy products such as ice cream and other sweets. The factory鈥檚 hours are Monday to Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


The Artisans Committee of Santa Elena and Monteverde (CASEM) makes various handicrafts and souvenirs out of wood and other materials, as well as clothing, for tourists to purchase.


A variety of galleries may be visited where pottery, sculpture and painting courses may be taken, and art pieces acquired. Plant, wildlife and general landscape photographs may also be purchased.



This preserve boasts a wealth of diversity in flora and fauna, much of which is unique in the world, that has made it a visitor attraction not to be missed: a place where nature-loving tourists and scientists can share one place that satisfies their diverse interests.

A number of trails allow visitors to observe the cloud forest. Approximately 400 bird species, 490 butterfly species, more than 100 species of mammal, 2,500 plant species (500 of which are orchids) and tens of thousands of insects have been identified here. Noteworthy wildlife includes the jaguar, tapir, lark, umbrella bird and the resplendent quetzal.

The preserve comprises 11,500 hectares and is open from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Managed by the Santa Elena Technical Professional School, the Santa Elena Preserve, as it is commonly known, is dedicated to protecting the cloud forest and contributing to the education of the Santa Elena community. Revenue from the preserve is used to protect the forest and to develop environmental programs.

Several trails are available to enjoy the 310-hectare preserve. On clear days, Arenal Volcano may be seen. The preserve is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.


This is the largest private preserve in Costa Rica.

The area to visit in Monteverde is the San Gerardo Biological Station, located seven kilometers from Santa Elena, which offers five kilometers of trails through the wet forest and an impressive view of Arenal Volcano.

One hundred animal species and 400 bird species have been identified in this 22,000-hectare preserve. Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Separate from the Children鈥檚 Eternal Forest, this area is located in Monteverde and measures approximately 29 hectares. Some 3.3 kilometers of trails allow for enjoyment of Bajo del Tigre鈥檚 flora and fauna, as well as an excellent view of the Gulf of Nicoya. Adding to the experience are white-faced monkeys, armadillos and a variety of butterflies, toads and birds.


This wildlife refuge offers a series of trails through a forest with excellent natural viewpoints, waterfalls, coffee plantations and the chance to observe animals common to the area, such as coatis, agoutis, sloths and around 150 bird species.

Specially dedicated to ecotourism, Finca Ecológica comprises 30 hectares and is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. An interesting nocturnal tour is also offered from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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