|Canoeing & Kayaking||Beachcombing||Wildlife Watching|
|Remote Eco-Lodges||Birdwatching||Turtle Nesting|
Tortuguero means turtle hunter but now the region is a national park committed to conservation & ecology.
Not only is it one of the very best places in Costa Rica to observe nesting sea turtles but one of the very few places visitors can reliably see baby turtles popping out of the sand to rush into the oncoming Caribbean waves.
Tortugero offers much more than sea turtles as one of the top 10 must see destinations. Perhaps the best reason to visit is on the landward side of the island village where you find the senderos acuáticos – an amazing system of water trails on the rivers, canals and “canyons” of the National park. A boat ride promises some of the very best wildlife viewing anywhere in the tropical world.
One of the most unique and remote regions of Costa Rica, Tortuguero has these and other attractions you won’t find together anywhere else.
Tortuguero National Park Wildlife Watching
Canals and Rivers
All of the lodges in the area offer tours in small motor launches to cruise the waterways of the national park and it’s possible see more wildlife in five minutes here than a whole day in some of the other parks.
A really exceptional experience awaits those willing to propel themselves in canoes or sit on top kayaks. The smaller channels leading away from the park entrance on Tortuguero lagoon are called caños (canyons) because of the way they narrow and the trees close in overhead. These tunnels of greenery into the heart of the park are too narrow for the motor boats but perfect to explore on your own.
Of the hundreds of species you might encounter, our favorite are the river otters. Watch carefully for lines of tiny bubbles on the calm water and if you’re patient you may see one break the surface with his whiskered face to take a curious peek at you. They’re protected, relatively unafraid of humans and once they decide you’re not a threat you can probably watch them fish and play as long as you can keep up.
Both Leatherback (February through July) and Atlantic Green (June through November) sea turtles nest at Tortuguero beach and you can join a park guide (no one is allowed on the beach unaccompanied at night) for an educational talk and walk to see this natural wonder.
Food & Restaurants
Many visitors eat all their meals at their lodge where the food is typically quite good and included but it’s worth exploring the local Afro-Carib cuisine around the village if you get a chance. There’s certainly nothing fancy, but the spicy chicken or coconut fish curry are delicious even in the simplest surroundings. Even the gallo pinot gets a Caribbean makeover with red beans, more spice and a little sweet coconut milk transforming the national dish.
What is Not in Tortuguero
It takes significant effort to get to Tortuguero (see boat routes to Tortuguero) and to avoid disappointment it’s worthwhile looking over what you shouldn’t expect to find here.
Perhaps the most important thing to know about what’s not here is that there are no roads into Tortuguero village and no cars once you arrive. For more on what not to expect in Tortuguero click here