Great for nature lovers, families and honeymoons
Available Adventures: Turtle Watching, Bird Watching, Sea Kayaking, Canal Tours, Culture, National Park, Wildlife and more…
Turtle nesting is what lures tourists to Tortuguero, one of the most secluded vacation destinations in Costa Rica. A hidden natural paradise set between the Caribbean Sea and a maze of rivers, canals and rainforest, it is only accessible by plane or boat. There are no cars or proper roads in the village of Tortuguero. All local travel is done by walking, boating, or biking. When is the best time to visit? Make the trip between March and October to witness the millennial spectacle of sea turtles nesting or from November to January to watch as the hatchlings sprint to the frothy waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Tortuguero Travel Tips
It is not recommended to independently make your way to Tortuguero. If arriving by plane, you must arrange with your hotel for a boat to pick you up at the airstrip. Otherwise, a 2 to 4 hour boat trip from Moín, Cariari or Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí can take you directly to the village through a labyrinth of canals, which in itself is a memorable experience. Most lodges, however, can arrange your transportation to and within Tortuguero, as well as meals and tours, which is by far the easiest way to discover the region.
Discover the Canals
The village of Tortuguero, built on a narrow land bridge between the sea and the main canal, has an insular feel. The beaches are long, windswept, and practically deserted, but due to the choppiness of the water and the sharks roaming around river mouths, swimming is not recommended. However, you will often see locals taking a refreshing dip. Boating on the canals is more popular and provides a good opportunity to observe the local fauna, including three-toed sloths, manatees, caimans, great green macaws, toucans, and howler and spider monkeys. Join a tour, or paddle away on a rented cayucos, a traditional dugout canoe.
Explore the Village
For most tourists, the village of Tortuguero is the gateway to Tortuguero National Park. However, the village itself is worth a visit, or at least a stroll. Take time to explore the artisan shops. In most Costa Rican resorts, you will find similar mass produced souvenirs, but Tortuguero offers refreshingly different options. Most stores are artisan-owned and filled with colorful artwork or jewelry. Finally, the Sea Turtle Conservancy Museum is a good place to learn about the nesting cycle of sea turtles and local wildlife before heading to the park.
Tour Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park boasts an extremely diverse wildlife and opportunities for hiking and boating. Four turtle species inhabit the park and nest on its beaches. The green turtle is the most common, but giant leatherheads, the largest turtles in the world, can also be sighted as well as hawksbill and loggerhead turtles. Guided night tours are the best way to see them nesting and to experience the calmness of the beach, undisturbed by artificial light. Other animal species calling the park home include jaguars, white-lipped peccaries, anteaters, different monkey species, as well as dozens of species of colorful birds and butterflies. Although there is one short (often muddy!) hiking trail in the park, the best way to get close to wildlife and enjoy the park is to join a boating tour. Gliding on the quiet waters of the canals of Tortuguero in the heart of tropical wilderness is an experience you will never forget.