Great fishing, bird watching and plenty of warmth are what you’ll find in the Barra del Colorado Refuge. An abundance of wildlife awaits you in one of Costa Rica’s warmer year-round climates.

The Barra del Colorado Refuge protects 91,200 hectares or 225,360 acres of territory.  The elevation range is sea level to 228 meters or 0 – 748 feet.  The refuge protects mangrove, rainforest, beach, and river habitats.  There are some hiking trails within the refuge, however exploring by boat is a more convenient and popular method of getting around.

There is plenty of wildlife within the refuge.  Spider monkeys, howler monkeys, pumas, jaguars, ocelots, sloths, tayras, and manatees are among the many mammals found at Barra del Colorado.  There are plenty of reptiles and amphibians including crocodiles, caimans, boas, bushmasters, pit vipers, and more.  Bird species within the refuge include the great green macaw, egrets, herons, kingfishers, woodpeckers, trogons and much more. 

Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge is administered by the Costa Rican government.  It is open daily from 8 AM – 4 PM.  There is a ranger station with public restrooms.  The cost to enter the refuge is $15 per person.  There are no overnight facilities at the ranger station, but there are a few lodges within the area of the refuge.

More about Barra del Colorado

The refuge is located in one of the most remote areas of the country and only accessible by boat or plane.  It borders Nicaragua to the north, which is divided by the Rio San Juan.  This is one of the best freshwater fishing rivers in Central America, as are its tributaries.  Anglers come to fish for species such as tarpon, snook, guapote, gar and machaca in the rivers. Barracuda, mackerel and jack can be caught on the ocean. There are several fishing lodges that offer all inclusive packages. In addition, visitors can also deep-sea fish from here for marlin, sailfish and tuna.

At a glance

Region: Northern Caribbean
Closest town: Barra del Colorado
Size in hectares: 91,200 (225,360 acres)
Year established: 1984
Elevation in meters: sea level to 228 (0 – 748 feet)
Private managed: no
Government managed: yes
Rangers station: yes
Overnight facilities: no
Public restrooms: yes
Entrance fee: $15pp
Days: daily
Hours: 08:00 - 16:00
Hiking trails: yes
Boat tours: yes
Average temperature range in Fahrenheit: 70 - 90
Average yearly precipitation in millimeters: 5,950 (234 inches)
Habitat: mangrove, rainforest, beach, river

How to get there

The only way to reach the Barra del Colorado is by boat or plane.  Flights are available daily from San Jose or boats can be taken from La Pavona.

Weather and packing list

Barra del Colorado Refuge is located in an area that is hot and humid.  Daytime temperatures usually exceed 90 degrees and night time temps are often in the upper 70s.  The refuge receives 5,950 mm or 234 inches of precipitation annually, so visitors should be prepared for rain.  The driest months are typically February, March, September, and October.

Visitors should pack shorts, tee shirts, lightweight pants and long sleeve shirts for sun protection, appropriate shoes, rain gear, sun block, and insect repellent.  Check out our packing suggestion list for more ideas.

Fun Fact: Anglers come from all over the world to fish the waters of Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge. The remote refuge provides opportunities for world class sport fishing for tarpon, snook and guapote.

Nearby Destinations

Tortuguero30 km
Sarapiqui 129 km
San Jose 152 km
Alajuela167 km
Turrialba162 km


Latitude: N 10° 43' 27.84"
Longitude: W 83° 43' 10.56"

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