Who doesn’t love monkeys? These energetic animals steal the hearts of so many people. They intrigue us, they’re entertaining, and let’s not forget that they force us to question our own evolution because they can feel strikingly human-like.
Costa Rica is home to four species of monkeys, including squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and capuchin monkeys, as well as subspecies of these monkeys.
If you’re a huge Monkey fan, you’re in luck in Costa Rica.
There are many opportunities to spot monkeys in their natural habitat. From national parks to even while you’re eating at a restaurant, these social creatures are always around.
You’ll find that it’s not hard to see a monkey while you’re in this Central American country. So don’t worry about trying hard to find them; they’ll be all around you.
There are more monkeys than there are people in Costa Rica, so you shouldn’t have any problem spotting them during your trip. Whether you are in a beach town of Costa Rica or the mountains, you should see them.
The monkeys in costa rica are considered New World monkeys instead of Old World monkeys which means they have a prehensile tail that has been adapted over time to allow them to hold themselves up by their tail so they can do other things with their hands.
They love to use their tail to swing from branches.
Costa Rican Monkey Species
Keep reading to learn more about the different species of monkeys in Costa Rica. Wild monkeys are found all around Costa Rica, and certain monkeys are more prevalent in different parts of the country.
There are four monkey species found in Costa Rica which include Mantled Howler Monkeys, Central American Squirrel Monkeys, White-faced Capuchin Monkeys, and Geoffrey’s Spider Monkeys.
Mantled Howler Monkeys
This is one of the largest Central American monkeys and the largest monkeys in Costa Rica, and they got their name by making loud howling sounds.
These are very common in Costa Rica and can often be heard before they’re seen. They’re one of the loudest land animals in the country, and they perform their loud calls mostly at sunrise and sunset.
The mantled howler monkey almost only eats leaves, so they don’t move around as much. They sleep a lot and are much less active.
They’re located around the country except for the areas with high elevation. The mantled howler monkey has black fur, but its call is the most obvious feature that sets them apart from the others.
Central American Squirrel Monkey
The Central American squirrel monkey is the most endangered monkey in Costa Rica, and it’s also the smallest. It’s known locally as the mono titi and is located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Mono Titi is endangered because of deforestation and also illegal pet trade.
Squirrel monkeys are distinctive, with an orange coat and a white and black face. This type of monkey lives in large groups of 20 to 75 monkeys.
Some adult males stay with their natal group their whole life, while adult females leave the natal group. This monkey is only located in Central America on the northwestern tip of Panama and in southern Costa Rica, so you won’t find it in every part of the country.
White-faced Capuchin Monkeys
White-faced capuchins have the largest population in Costa Rica. They’re very active, social, and adaptable monkeys.
This kind of monkey will steal your food, so watch out when you see them. The white-faced capuchins will eat just about anything so that they can survive above all else. They’re intelligent creatures and are the smartest of the New World monkeys in Costa Rica.
The capuchins do not shy away from people, so if you don’t have to worry about not finding these monkeys, you’ll no doubt see them during your time in Costa Rica because they’re never hiding.
However, some of these monkeys live in more remote areas outside of the national parks where they’re less adapted to people, and they might react more wildly to seeing humans by throwing sticks at you or making sounds.
They’re also known to walk on the forest floor more than other monkeys.
Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey
The spider monkey is known for its long prehensile tail, which allows Geoffroy’s spider monkeys to move through tree branches, and the tail can hold their entire body weight.
The tail has adapted to grasp, hold things, and help the monkey move around.
This is a large monkey, and it can weigh up to 20 pounds. It’s also very active, like the white-faced monkeys. If a spider monkey doesn’t have a group to join, it’s not uncommon for them to join the white-faced capuchin.
Geoffroy’s spider monkeys mostly eat fruits and scour the tree branches using their long tail.
Best Parks To See Costa Rica Monkeys
The ultimate best place to spot monkeys in Costa Rica is in a national park. Since the parks are preserved and protected, monkeys and other species flourish in these protected areas.
The monkeys in parks also tend to be more acquainted with humans and less scared, so you’ll see them more often, whereas, in more remote places, they often hide at the sight of a human.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Located in Quepos, Costa Rica, on the Pacific coast, Manuel Antonio National Park is something you MUST do while in the area. It’s a place you’ll no doubt spot monkeys.
This is one of the best places to see monkeys in the country. Not only are monkeys prevalent in this park, but you must also be careful!
If you plan to grab food at the food court, protect your food at all costs. Monkeys are known for snatching food right off your plate if you look away. They wait up in the trees and watch for unattended food.
The most common types of monkeys found in Manuel Antonio National Park are howler monkeys and white-faced monkeys.
Listen for howler monkeys, you’ll often hear them before you see them, and then you’ll usually be able to spot a howler monkey in a tree.
The white-faced capuchin monkeys are easier to spot because they’re more social and active. These monkeys are not shy and are usually found in low branches near the beach. It’s often the white-faced monkey that will steal your food.
These monkeys have black bodies and white faces, so they’re easy to spot. They might even get right on the forest floor to take your food.
You can also find the central american squirrel monkey in Manuel Antonio National Park. Geoffroy’s spider monkeys are the only monkey species you won’t find in this park.
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is the only park where you can find all four species of Costa Rica monkeys. The park is on the southwestern part of the Osa Peninsula, which has half of Costa Rica’s species, nearly 250,000 out of 500,000 total species in Costa Rica.
This is also almost 4% of all the species in the world, so it’s a wonderful place. A bucket list item when in Uvita.
If you want to see some of the most unique and interesting animals, this is the place to visit. It’s one of the most remote parks, but for those who truly love nature, it’s a must-visit.
You must have a permit and certified guide in order to enter the park because Corcovado National Park can be rugged and confusing, and you’re required to have a guide for your safety.
If you’re hoping to see all of the main species of Costa Rica monkeys, this is the best place to visit in Costa Rica. You’ll even find the black-crowned squirrel monkey, which is a subspecies of the Central American Squirrel Monkey.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve
This reserve is located in the provinces of Puntarenas and Alajuela and has almost 26,000 acres of cloud forest.
Monteverd translates to the green mountain, and it’s known as the place where you can touch the clouds, so it’s a very cool place in general.
The reserve is an oasis of greenery, and it’s wet year-round, with clouds covering the canopy. So this is a great place to cool down and explore on a hot summer’s day.
You can mostly find the capuchin monkey in Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. They’re primarily found in large packs with an alpha male and female leading, and if they’re not eating, they’re usually napping.
Arenal Volcano National Park
Home to an active volcano, this national park is a super interesting place to explore.
While Arenal is active, there is another volcano in the park that has been inactive for 3500 years, Chato Volcano.
This inactive volcanic crater even created a lagoon in the park. This is a very popular place to visit for people who enjoy birds because almost all of the 850 bird species found in Costa Rica can be seen in this park.
As for monkeys, you can discover white-faced capuchins in this park. You’ll also find small lizards, jaguars, snakes, and other wildlife and plants.
There is so much to see and do in Arenal.
Other Places to See Costa Rican Monkeys
Other than national parks, you can also find monkeys in various animal sanctuaries. Sanctuaries help restore an animal’s health so it can go back into the wild, or it supports an animal for the rest of its life if it cannot go back into the world.
At an animal sanctuary, you can learn about Costa Rica’s monkeys and the care they need. Many monkeys are in the care of numerous sanctuaries found all around the country.
Boat Tour In The Mangroves
Another way to spot an adorable monkey is by going on a tour by boat in the mangroves. You’ll hopefully get to see all types of monkeys, including howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, the spider monkey, and the capuchin.
Depending on what kind of tour you go on, you may get to feed a monkey and pet it. This is a great way to interact with monkeys if you want to see them up close.
There are many opportunities to see monkeys in Costa Rica, both on the Pacific and Caribbean Coast and all over the country.
From their disproportionately long limbs to their distinctive pot belly, these playful, smart, adorable, and strikingly human-like creatures are magnificent.
It’s so interesting to watch them in the wild. While you’re visiting Costa Rica, try to spot all four types of monkeys if you can and get to know the differences between them.