There’s no doubt that Costa Rica is a haven for animal lovers. With 210 species of mammals, 878 species of birds, 218 species of reptiles and more than 35,000 species of insects, this small Central American nation is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet.
One of the fiercest predators that calls Costa Rica home is the American crocodile. Once a threatened species in the country, protection measures that emerged in the 1970’s have led to a come back for the reptilian species, which are now found in large numbers in many estuaries and lowland waterways.
Where to see crocodiles in Costa Rica
Wondering where to see crocodiles in Costa Rica? Visitors looking for guaranteed – and safe – sighting opportunity should head to the town of Tárcoles and cross the Costa Rica crocodile bridge. Many a visitor will drive across this bridge enroute to Jacó, Manuel Antonio National Park and other destinations on the Central Pacific Coast.
Highway 34, the main stretch of highway that leads from San José to the Pacific shores of Jacó, rolls through the small town of Tárcoles. The road leads past a small collection of restaurants, produce stands and the main attraction –crocodiles.
The Costa Rica crocodile bridge passes over the Tárcoles River, which is almost always teaming with crocodiles. The bridge offers uninhibited views of the crocodiles below.
The American crocodile can reach up to 15 feet in length. Female crocodiles build nests above the river’s shoreline and lay 30 to 70 eggs at a time. Male crocodiles will help guard the nursery.
Crocodiles date back 200 million years and are the least changed reptile species from their prehistoric ancestors.
This species of crocodile is found all throughout the Neotropics of the Americas, from Florida in the North to Venezuela in the South.
A word of warning – enjoy these crocodiles from a distance! In May 2014 a 32-year-old man was devoured by crocodiles after jumping in the river and attempting to swim across.
I’ll stick to viewing from the bridge. After all, these reptiles are among the top ten deadliest creatures in the world.