Villa San Ignacio | Hotel near San Jose and Alajuela | Costa Rica
White-winged dove resting in nest - Photo by John Fader

5 Tips for a Comfortable Birding Trip in Costa Rica

White-winged dove resting in nest - Photo by John Fader
Have a chance to see the White-winged dove resting in nest. Photographer John Fader

5 Tips for a comfortable Birding trip

A comfortable place to stay at the beginning and end of the journey eases you into your trip after a long flight and prepares you for your return. On a birding trip, where your trip start and end, creates more opportunity to look for birds; birding doesn’t have to start in a national park, in Costa Rica, it begins as soon as you get off the plane.

Try these five tips to find the best place for your first and final days of a fantastic trip to Costa Rica:

Hotel near Juan Santamaría International Airport

There are plenty of hotels in the San Jose area, but how many are close to the airport? How many need more than 30 minutes or even an hour to reach their doors? As with any metropolitan area, Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, is infamous for heavy, erratic traffic.  Don’t start your vacation stuck in traffic; book your hotel in Alajuela near the airport.

The Dome at Hotel Villa San Ignacio in Costa Rica
The Dome at Hotel Villa San Ignacio in Costa Rica, with very comfortable beds

Comfortable Beds

Although some birders care more about birding than sleeping,  a good night’s rest on quality bedding is pretty welcome after a long day of international travel.  Resting well makes for better birding, boosts your immunity making it less likely to catch a cold or other illness (nobody wants that to happen on a once-in-a-lifetime birding trip!). Before booking, make sure the hotel has a certain level of comfort.

Top view of Pandora Restaurant at Hotel Villa San Ignacio in Alajuela, Costa Rica
Top view of Pandora Restaurant at Hotel Villa San Ignacio in Alajuela, Costa Rica with ample wooded areas

Ample Green Space

If a hotel is close enough to the airport and meets your standard of comfort, look into the amount of green space. Does the hotel have gardens? Does it have trails in forest? If the answer is yes to both of these questions, it’s going to be far better for birding than lodging with manicured gardens or no habitat whatsoever. And yes, you may have time to go birding at the hotel, you might even have more time than expected.

Birding Infrastructure

Although not vitally important, if a hotel offers birding tours, has feeders, can serve an early breakfast, and does other things that are likewise amenable to birders, that hotel will be a better place to start and end a birding visit. It means that if you want to go birding (and of course birders do), the hotel may have information about birds on the property, they may know where an owl roosts, they can connect you with a guide.

Pandora Restaurant at Hotel Villa San Ignacio in Alajuela, Costa Rica
Pandora Restaurant at Hotel Villa San Ignacio in Alajuela, Costa Rica

Good Food

Last and far from least, a place with good food is a serious boon for a birding trip. As much as some birders state that they would rather bird than eat, if there are one or two days when you should indulge in satisfying food and drink, that would be at the beginning and end of a trip. Delicious cuisine and quality beverages are that much better after a long day of airports, lines, and planes. They are also essential for a final celebratory meal.

With hundreds of bird species waiting to be seen in a warm place with beautiful tropical surroundings, it gets easier to think about planning a birding trip to Costa Rica. With this stable nation already open to visitors and multiple vaccines on the visible horizon, it’s hard to think of reasons not to plan your next birding trip in Costa Rica.

Blog by Patrick O’Donnell.
Patrick O’Donnell started birding at the age of 7 in Niagara Falls, NY. A biologist by trade, he has worked on bird-related projects in a number of places and has guided birders in Ecuador, Peru, and Costa Rica. Patrick has lived in Costa Rica since 2007 and when not birding, writes about birds, travel and tourism, and other topics.

>Book your first and last night in Costa Rica at Villa San Ignacio