Photography in Costa Rica

Costa Rica flag

Overview

Costa Rica has an abundance of natural features and these fit many different styles of photography. According to taste you can easily find wildlife photography, macro photography, landscape photography and urban areas for street photography with a sense of the exotic.

Costa Rica is close enough to the mainland USA to be considered for a short vacation. Better still that it is considered on of the safest countries in Central America and relatively well developed.

Corcovado sunset

Photographic opportunities

Wildlife photography

Wildlife photographers can have a ball in Costa Rica. There are a number of well-organized national parks, such as Corcovado on the Pacific coast, and you should be able to arrange suitable guiding for any particular set of plants or animals that you wish to capture. High on the list for many will be birds, frogs, snakes or flowers.

Costa Rica frog

Bird photography

Bird photographers may want to target hummingbirds or other native species such as the iconic quetzal. Given that the light is likely to be less than favorable under the canopy you will want to take along the fastest lenses that you have available.

Macro photography

Costa Rica has a wide range of wildlife suitable for those wishing to practice their macro photography. Again, it pays to have a guide along, to help find good specimens but also to give a definitive identification.

Underwater photography

With two coasts and an abundance of wildlife, including turtles and whales, Costa Rica offers one of the best venues for diver/photographers who wish to practice their art. It would be well worth contacting any national parks you wish to visit for the purpose to check on appropriate seasons and also to establish what regulations exist.

Costa Rica Coati, aka pizote
Hummingbird
Costa Rica butterfly
Costa Rica flower

Landscape photography

Costa Rica is a rugged country with much of the land remaining under the cover of rain forest. This can be difficult to capture - except that the country also has a number of volcanoes which provide additional interest ... and good vantage points. The ruggedness gives rise to a number of attractive waterfalls, enough to justify a trip for anyone who loves to focus on these.

Costa Rica has two coastlines with quite different characteristics. The Caribbean coast is considered more laid-back than the Pacific Coast - but that is a matter of relativity. Both have their appeal for photographers and, since the distance between is small, it is well worth including visits to the two sides.

Some of the highlands have been cleared for coffee plantations and these can provide repeating patterns for those who like a more organised form of landscape image.

Architectural photography

The capital, San Jose, and the former capital Cartago, both contain colonial-era architecture though there is not as much as in other central-American destinations, so this does not justify a special trip of its own.

The Caribbean coast offers many wooden houses, often on stilts, which could form an interesting body of work for anyone with the inclination. Likewise, there are some notable contemporary buildings around the country.

Street photography

Whilst Costa Rica is not noted for any particular street opportunities that is in itself a challenge. You could choose an urban area to explore, or perhaps a theme such as the Caribbean lifestyle. It could also be interesting to visit during a festive period to capture something of the fun.

Preparing to go

Most visitors will not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days. The official site lists the relevant passports with commentary on related issues.

Paperwork

General travel advice for photographers

For general tips about getting ready for one of our photography tours or workshops, check out our Blog category: Preparing to go


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