Habitat loss and increases in habitat isolation are causing animal population reductions and extirpations in forested areas of the world. This problem extends to protected areas, which, while often well-conserved, can be too small and isolated to maintain species that exist at low densities and require large contiguous areas of habitat (e.g. some large mammals). Costa Rica has been at the forefront of tropical forest conservation and a large proportion of the country’s land area is currently under some form of protection. One such area is the northwest portion of Costa Rica, which is an extremely biodiverse region with several noteworthy national and privately-owned protected areas. However, each protected area is an isolated island in a sea of deforestation. Within Costa Rica’s existing framework of biological corridors, we propose four sub-corridors as targets for restoration and full protection. These sub-corridors would link five major protected areas in northwest Costa Rica, with all of them linking to larger protected areas in the central portion of the country, while impacting a small number of people who reside within the corridors. After natural or active reforestation of the corridors, the result would be a contiguous protected area of 348,000 ha. The proposed sub-corridors would represent a 3.7% increase in protected area size in the region and only 0.2% of Costa Rica’s total land area. Using the jaguar (Panthera onca) as a model umbrella species, we estimated that each current isolated protected area could support between 8–104 individuals. Assuming lack of dispersal between protected areas (distance between each ranges from 8.1 to 24.9 km), these population sizes are unlikely to be viable in the long term. However, the combined protected areas, connected by biological sub-corridors, could support about 250 jaguars, a population size with a higher probability of surviving. Our study shows that focusing conservation efforts on a relatively small area of Costa Rica could create a large protected area derived from numerous small isolated preserves.