Walking among the park's three trails visitors can see umbrella-shaped Guanacaste trees, Costa Rica's national tree, overgrown with cactus beside the tall, straight trunks of some of Costa Rica's tallest rainforest trees like the kapok and the wild cashew that can grow 200-feet above the forest floor.
Trails through Carara feature thick, ancestral forest that's remained unchanged for thousands of years replete with towering ancient trees, vines and dense shady canopies that block out the light. Nearby, Carara's secondary forest has grown over an old fruit farm and remains filled with banana, fig and other fast growing fruit trees that pioneer the land for the regeneration of its primary rainforest.
Venture into the park early in the morning with a guide ($25-$40 per person) for the best chance to see white-faced, howler and spider monkeys swing through the canopy looking for fruit like those found on the gnarled branches of the strangler fig trees – sometimes you can even see both howlers and white-faced sharing the same trees. Scarlet macaws fly through the forest, perching on royal palms and squabbling over fruit among the park's 400 other species of birds. Sloths, peccaries, agoutis, coatis, basilisk lizards and boa constrictors are just a few of the other animals dwelling in the park.
The Tarcoles River with its 2,000 crocodiles forms the northern boundary of Carara National Park. These prehistoric reptiles can measure more than 20 feet from snout to tail and can be seen under the Tarcoles River bridge on Route 34 while heading to the park from San Jose.