Face of a sloth peers out from between two branches of a tree, looking straight towards the camera

Where to see sloths in Costa Rica (2024)

Top of our list in terms of animals we all wanted to see on our travels was the lovable sloth. We knew that there was a good chance of spotting a sloth or two on our trip to Costa Rica but we weren’t sure when and where this might happen! Read on for more info on where to see sloths in Costa Rica as part of a family travel adventure.

As I know this is high up on lots of people’s wishlists for Costa Rica I’ve put together a bit of a guide on how to spot sloths. This is based on our experiences of six weeks travelling around Costa Rica.

Where in the world do sloths live?

Sloths live in rainforest ecosystems across Central America and down in to South America, as far down as Northern Brazil. Whilst you can see sloths in several of these countries, Costa Rica is generally regarded as THE destination for sloth-spotting. Costa Rica is home to both two-toed and three-toed sloths. As Costa Rica has good infrastructure and easy access to wildlife it’s actually quite easy to achieve your sloth-spotting dreams!

Sloth sits at the base of a large tree trunk
Sloth sits curled in a tight ball high in a tree

Where can you see sloths in Costa Rica?

Sloths live across Costa Rica, so wherever you plan to visit on your Costa Rica itinerary you have a chance of spotting one in the wild. There are however certain spots that are well-known for sloth sightings:

  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Cahuita National Park
  • La Fortuna
  • Tortuguero National Park
  • Corcovado National Park

Of these areas, we visited Manuel Antonio National Park, Cahuita National Park and La Fortuna – and spotted lots of sloths!

You can also visit one of the rescue centres/wildlife sanctuaries in Costa Rica if you want to get even closer to these amazing animals. We visited the Jaguar Rescue Centre, just outside Manzanillo on the Caribbean Coast, and saw several rescued sloths (including babies!). The Sloth Sanctuary, between Cahuita and Limon on the Caribbean Coast, also gets excellent reviews. 

Sloth tour with Armando in La Fortuna

To REALLY maximise your chances of seeing sloths in Costa Rica I would highly recommend booking on to a sloth tour with Armando in La Fortuna. You can either book via Xilopalo Hotel in La Fortuna or contact Armando directly.

By the time we reached La Fortuna, we’d already seen a number of sloths in the wild on our travels around Costa Rica. However, the tour with Armando came so ridiculously highly recommended that we booked on anyway. And I’m so glad we did! Armando is a fantastic guide, so excited about each and every sloth he finds (and in his line of work, he must find a lot!). He was full of facts about them, and armed with his telescope we managed to get a really good view of all of the 13 (!) sloths that we spotted in our 1.5hour tour. This even included two adorable baby sloths, which we were all thrilled to see!

Sloth hangs upside down from tree branch with baby attached to it's middle
Boy and tour guide stand in jungle with telescope

On top of the sloths, we also saw loads of huge iguanas and even a very long Yellow Rat Snake. 

Armando picks you up from your hotel and drops you off again; in total the whole tour comes in at only US$25 per person. This is amazing value for so many sloths and so much information!

You can follow Armando on Instagram here, or contact him directly on +506 87304242 to book your tour. 

Sloth spotting in Manuel Antonio and Cahuita National Parks

In both national parks we saw several sloths without taking a guided tour. Whilst I’m sure you can see even more if you pick up a guide at the park entrance, it’s not completely necessary if you just want to see a sloth. In Manuel Antonio National Park we were even lucky enough to see a sloth at the bottom of a tree, just metres away from us!

Sloth spotting elsewhere in Costa Rica

Whilst lots of sloths are found in national parks and via guided tours, we also saw a number of sloths while we were just out and about. Particularly around the beaches in Cahuita, where we saw one local sloth hanging out in a tree at the beach most days of our stay. And there was another right above us in a cafe while we were having lunch; then yet another sloth sitting on top of a geocache at head height in a tree!

The verdict

If you’ve got the time to spend a few weeks in Costa Rica then you are pretty much guaranteed to see a sloth in the wild at some point on your travels. Regardless, I’d still recommend a tour with Armando in La Fortuna! It adds so much to your understanding of sloths and he’s just so passionate about them that it’s infectious. 

Getting to see so many sloths during our time in Costa Rica was such a highlight of the trip. It has definitely given us all a much better understanding of these amazing animals.

Planning a family travel adventure to Costa Rica?

To find out more about this fabulous family travel destination, see all of our Costa Rica blog posts here. Costa Rica is absolutely packed with fun-filled activities for travelling with kids; here are just a few of our reviews and recommendations:

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