Tag Archives: Olive Ridley Turtles

Costa Rica’s Magical Arribada of Olive Ridley Turtles

Arribadas are synchronized turtle nesting events on a mass scale, whereby tens of thousands of turtles converge on very specific beaches to lay millions of eggs, simultaneously. For threatened Olive Ridley Turtles, the favored beaches are along Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline and, more famously, Ostional Beach in the Nicoya Peninsula. Arribadas, whose term translates to ‘arrivals’, are incredibly magical events to witness and occur over a period of several days, usually up to a week.

Costa Rica’s magical arribada of Olive Ridley turtles are recognized as one of the world’s true wonders of nature.


olive ridley turtlesWhat makes arribadas so exceptional is the fact that not much is known about them. To this day, scientists are still in the dark as to how thousands of turtles know to return to their own nesting beaches, year after year, and all at the same time. Their innate homing ability is one of the greatest mysteries of nature, especially when one considers the sheer distances each animal covers, over the course of a year. Moreover, as turtles reach maturity at about 10 years of age, it means that hatchlings who are born here will not return for at least 10 years. Yet they will still know that this is the beach they were hatched and this is the only place in the world they must return to

In Costa Rica, bearing witness to an arribada is one of the most iconic experiences you could ever dream to have and if you time your visit to the country just right, you could include one in your itinerary.

Costa Rica’s Olive Ridley Turtles – One of the Country’s Most Precious Assets

One of the world’s last true unspoilt countries, Costa Rica is home seven marine turtles, including the threatened Olive Ridley and the Giant Leatherback, the largest species of its kind on our planet.

Olive Ridley turtles arribadas occur sporadically all year long yet the ones with the highest numbers happen during the rainy season, between August and November. They take place about 10 days before each new moon during this period, and you’ll see endless waves of sea turtles to come ashore and lay millions of eggs in shallow holes in the sand. Aside from one other specific spot in India, this is the second largest Olive Ridley turtle nesting site on the planet. The immensely instinctive behavior of nesting turtles makes them very determined, so they seem not to be affected by onlookers at all. Understandably, there are very strict codes of conduct during arribadas in the most visited beaches, to help avoid the kind of disruption which occurred in Guanacaste back in 2015 when thousands of turtles, and onlookers, descended on the same beach simultaneously.

There are volunteer associations that help hatchlings make it ashore. Given that arribadas occur during low tourist season, the local Ostional Guide Association is always happy to accept help in times of need and if you’d love to be a part of this incredible event, and lend a hand, you can contact them here.

Arribadas – a Danger at Every Turn!

Arribadas are dangerous affairs, both for the mothers that come ashore to lay their eggs and the eventual hatchlings who will struggle and face unfavorable odds to make it to the sea. Predators and threats abound, not only from other animals (including human poachers) but also from their own kind. Arribadas happen in waves (literally and figuratively speaking) on any given night, and due to their sheer numbers and the turtle’s seemingly self-centered instinct, the first ‘wave’ of laid eggs actually has a high chance of being destroyed by subsequent turtles who trample all over them. The local government has been criticized for making this the only place where harvesting turtle eggs is legal yet their rather logical solution to a huge problem has actually been very effective at promoting the overall survival of the species.

In Ostional, locals are allowed to take and sell a certain number of turtle eggs that belong to the first wave of an arribada, eggs that have the highest chance of being destroyed. They can fetch a considerable amount of money. In return, however, locals keep a vigil over the subsequent waves, helping to keep poachers, stray dogs, crocs, vultures and coatimundi at bay and giving the hatchlings the best chance at life. It is a solution which drew skepticism at first, but one which seems to be working remarkably well. Local communities are also being educated as to the importance of these arribadas and are becoming quite vocal protectors of the events.

Although human help is arguably warranted, it is also restricted. Witnessing an arribada, in all its natural glory, therefore, can be both mesmerizing and totally heartbreaking. Not every turtle and egg can and should be saved or helped. Nature also needs to take its course.

Costa Rica’s Olive Ridley arribadas can attract up to 150,000 turtles. The largest ever recorded occurred in November, 1995, when half a million turtles turned up for an arribada of astronomical proportions.

After an Arribada…Come Hatchlings!

Around 45 days after eggs are first laid, another wave occurs. This time, of tiny little Olive Ridley turtles hatchlings! Their own struggle to reach the seas is monumental. Flapping over what is, to them, colossal sand dunes, the hatchlings must dodge predators at every turn. Although, once again, human help is at hand, the actual scrambling to sea from their nest is a very important process as it helps the baby turtles develop their lungs. Moreover, scientists –even though are not 100% certain – do believe that setting a course over sand to the sea helps them develop the very homing skills they’ll need to tap into, in order to return. So in this particular case, help is mostly limited to protecting the hatchlings, not picking them up and taking them to sea.

Scrambling to the sea is something they must do on their own.

Survival odds may be stacked against Olive Ridley turtles from before they are even born yet thanks to a little bit of human help, and Costa Rica’s magical arribadas, the state of the species continues to improve, year after year.

Traveling to Costa Rica during rainy season offers huge rewards. Not only can you bear witness to a magical arribada on the Pacific Coast, but you’ll find fewer tourists and lower prices no matter where you go. For help in planning an adventure-filled trip to this outstanding country, contact us today.


Costa Rica Weather in October: How to Beat the Rainy Blues

Costa Rica rainCosta Rica may receive its heaviest rainfall of the year about this time, but this does not mean that a vacation to this tropical haven, in October, will be a disastrous mess.

Costa Rica rainQuite the opposite actually! There is still plenty to see and do, numerous ‘drier’ corners of the country and more than enough incentives to head down south for an unforgettable, adventurous, vacation.

Here’s why traveling to Costa Rica in October is about the best decision you can make.

You can travel longer…for cheaper

Off-season deals are incredible in Costa Rica and, if you can take the time off, it means you can enjoy a much longer vacation for the same price, or less. Considering the fact that you can plan for a certain number of full rainy days a week (say 3), stretching your vacation time means you’ll have many more chances to get out and explore your favorite areas. Discounts on flights, accommodation and tours can drop by 40%, which is simply phenomenal!

It’s blissfully uncrowded – Enjoy it!

Costa Rica hikingWant to feel like you have Costa Rica all to yourself? Then you could do no better that to travel here in October and November. You’ll find vacancies in hotels and B&Bs (which means you can wing it and don’t need to book ahead), encounter fewer people on hiking trails (if you’ve visited in high season you’ll know just how precious this is) and have entire stretches of pristine beach all to yourself.

You won’t be alone all the time, but that’s OK! There are plenty of discerning travelers who head to Costa Rica specifically in rain season, but no part of the country will feel overcrowded. And that’s pure bliss.

Appreciate the downpours & have fun

However annoying it may be to suffer an insanely rainy day, do remember that Costa Rica, being one of the world’s most bio-diverse countries, depends on rain. A lot of rain. It regenerates flora, feeds fauna and spawns all the wonderful wilderness for which the country is so beloved. Appreciating how much Costa Rica relies on its yearly rainfall may help you see the rain in a different light. It is a wondrous thing, to experience the ‘healthiest part of the year in Costa Rica. So pack some gum boots, buy a poncho once you arrive and enjoy exploring the vibrant forests and national parks.

Come to see the turtles

Costa Rica turtlesTake the turtles, for example. They love the rain, and although they head ashore all year long to hatch, it’s only during rain season that they arrive in colossal proportions.

During an (the local name for mass nesting), you can spot thousands of turtles! Olive Ridley Turtles are spotted on the Pacific coastline of the Nicoya Peninsula and, from October onwards, is when you can see Leatherback Turtles coming to nest on the shores of the Las Baulas National Park. October is also the last month of the year to spot Green Turtles nesting in Tortuguero, so head here pronto! If you’re a turtle lover then this is the optimal time to visit.

It’s the Perfect Time to Head to the (Caribbean) Beach

Thanks to its topography, and the Talamanca Mountains in particular, the Caribbean coastline of Costa Rica actually enjoys its driest time of year in September and October. How great is that? Not only can you enjoy still spectacular adventures on the western side of the country, but you can end your trip with some gorgeous days on one of the many beaches on the eastern side. Enjoy fantastic snorkeling in Cahuita, or sunbathe in the pristine beaches of Puerto Viejo. If you’re looking for some clear skies and drier days, you’ll definitely find them here.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As you now know, traveling to Costa Rica in October is not just a way to save money! If you want to enjoy an off-the-beaten- path experience here then you really couldn’t pick a better time to travel.