About Us

Curú National Wildlife Refuge and farm are located on the southem Nicoya Peninsula of northwestern Costa Rica. The area is teaming with abundant wildlife and hosts one of the most beautiful beaches and protected bays on the Nicoya Peninsula. The area offers easy access to seeing some of the most sought-after species such as White-faced Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Scarlet Macaws, White-tailed Deer, Collared Peccary, Coati, Raccoons, Coyotes, Iguanas, and hundreds of species of tropical and migratory birds.

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Curú contains Costa Rica’s first private National Wildlife Refuge and is an example of a successful sustainable development program. The hacienda still includes low levels of cattle grazing and produces tropical fruits such as mangos on an annual basis. However, tourism and visitation by school groups and researchers are the focus of Curú today. Curú National Wildlife Refuge and farm is managed sustainably to produce a profit and local employment while also protecting its threatened and endangered forested habitats such as mangroves, tropical moist and dry forests, and coral reefs.

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Curú was established in 1933 by Federico Schutt de la Croix. The area was transformed into a sustainable development project with multiple uses that included selective timber harvest and agricultural activities including rice, beans, corn, plantains, and later mangos and teak plantations. Cattle grazing also became an important activity, but agriculture would later be scaled back as conservation and ecotourism efforts began to be implemented.

In 1981, it received status from the Costa Rican government to protect its forests and mangroves. In 1983 Curú became Costa Rica’s first private National Wildlife Refuge. The Schutt Valle family, who manages Curú Wildlife Refuge and farm, has converted the area into an eco-tourism location and research center for students and scientists from Costa Rica and around the world.



Birds – Orange-fronted Parakeet, Yellow-naped Parrot, Scarlet Macaw, Long-tail Manakin, Lineated, Pale-billed, and Hoffman’s Woodpeckers, Osprey, Common Black Hawk, Barred Antshrike, Blue-crowned and Turquoise-browed Motmots, Black-headed, Violaceous, and Elegant Trogons, Brown Pelican, Crested Caracara, Flycatchers, Tanagers, Vultures, Herons, and several species of migratory song and shorebirds

Mammals – White faced, Spider, and Howler Monkeys, Raccoon, Coati, Squirrels, Anteater, White-tail deer, Armadillo, Tayra, Collared Peccary, Margay, Puma or Mountain Lion, Skunk, and Kinkajou

Amphibians and Reptiles – Giant Toad, Boa Constrictor, Iguana, Sea Turtles, Anolis Lizards, and Crocodile

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Reintroduction of the Scarlet Macaw

In 1999, Amigos de las Aves, a Costa Rican conservation organization, initiated a Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) restoration program in Curú

Coral Reef Restoration and Conservation

In 2002, a new Psammocora stellata coral reef was discovered in the Bay of Curú. This reef is one of only three known Psammocora sp. reefs in all of Costa Rica.

Release of Spider Monkeys

The Set Us Free Project includes the reintroduction of the Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) in a remote area of the wildlife refuge

Research Opportunities for Students, School Groups, and Independent Researchers

Curú Wildlife Refuge and Hacienda provides a great opportunity for school groups and researchers (independent or enrolled in a school or University) to conduct studies in a tropical forest and beach setting. Accessibility to the site, an extensive trail system, a large protected bay and pristine beaches, and high densities of many groups of terrestrial and marine animals make this an ideal setting for high school, college, and graduate students to conduct their class or thesis research. Curú is also an ideal place for school groups and classes to conduct courses in tropical ecology, biology, and environmental studies and science. Many international and Costa Rican students and groups have taken advantage of Curú’s easy accessibility from San Jose and Puntarenas, and its dry and moist forest and marine habitats on the Nicoya Peninsula, to conduct their research and conduct classes. Current and past research has focused on White-faced Capuchin and Howler Monkey ecology, the ecology of several other species of mammals, Scarlet Macaws and parrots, migratory birds, forest ecology, and in the marine environment, projects related to fish diversity, coral reef mapping, and marine invertebrate surveying.

Discounts for groups and individuals conducting educational trips and long term studies are available. Curú offers several services for groups and researchers at a cost that is much lower than what is found at many other field stations in Costa Rica and Central America. Volunteer opportunities are not available.


Cabins are located along Curú Bay and its beautiful beaches, three meals a day are available, transportation to and from the local Puntarenas and Playa Naranjo ferries are available by local bus or taxi, and arrangements can be made to support projects with additional field workers. Horses can also be used to reach remote areas and to pack in field equipment. Curú has compiled an extensive collection of baseline data on its natural resources. These data are published through the National University of Costa Rica and are integrated into Curú’s management plan, all of which are available to researchers to use as background information when conducting research at the wildlife refuge.
For more information regarding independent research opportunities and conducting field research classes for school and University groups, please email Curú at refugiocuru@yahoo.com


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How to get there

Direct public bus leaves from San José twice a day 6 am and 2 pm, via the Paquera ferry. Tell the bus driver to drop you at the entrance of Curú.

Public bus leaves from San Jose on a regular basis and drops passengers in Puntarenas. Take a taxi to the Paquera ferry. After arriving in Paquera, take another public bus and tell the driver to stop at the entrance to Curú. Look for the Transportes Cobano Facebook page for a schedule.

Driving Directions from San Jose

Drive to Puntarenas (2 to 3 hours depending on traffic), take the ferry to Paquera (1 to 1 1/2 hours) www.navieratambor.com and drive to the entrance of Curú (30 minutes). Entrance will be on the left side.

Fly to Tambor airport (25 minutes), drive to the entrance of Curú (20 minutes).