Natural area of land and/or sea, designated to (a) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations, (b) exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area and (c) provide a foundation for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible.
The area should contain a representative sample of major natural regions, features or scenery, where plant and animal species, habitats and geomorphological sites are of special spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and tourist significance.
The area should be large enough to contain one or more entire ecosystems not materially altered by current human occupation or exploitation.
Visiting a National Park
National Parks are usually open daily from eight to four. The best time to go is early in the morning. Do not go in the afternoon unless you're planning to camp there for the night. Some of the parks are closed Mondays. Stop at the ICT Office in San Jose for the latest information about any park you plan to visit.
When you arrive at the Park, stop at to the ranger station. The park rangers will be happy to answer your questions and point out the highlights of the place. It's important to understand that Costa Ricans created the National Parks to preserve the natural resources and wildlife of their country. Nobody was thinking of tourism when these lands were set aside. Therefore, don't be disappointed if the facilities are not up to the standards of the Ritz. Also, be patient.
There is no guarantee your visit to a park will give you an up-close-and-personal look at animals advertised to live there. The entrance fee to National Park is three dollars for Costa Rican Citizens and permanent residents, six to seven dollars for tourists. Foreign visitors are encouraged to buy a pass good for four visits to any National Park and to some Wildlife and Biological Refuges. The pass is good for thirty days from the first time you use it, but it is transferable. Buy the pass at the ICT office in San Jose.