Tortuguero National Park
Visit Tortuguero for an introduction to the rainforest, waterways and wildlife of Costa Rica plus the chance to see turtles laying their eggs in season.
A highlight for us was sitting on the beach in Tortuguero in the dark watching green turtles coming out of the ocean, digging their holes, laying eggs, and then making their way back into the ocean - a very moving experience.
Accessible only by boat or small plane, Tortuguero National Park is a network of water channels, rivers, lagoons and beaches and one of Costa Rica’s best-known attractions. Exploring by water is at once relaxing and informative while guided walks take you further into the rainforest. From July to October you have the added bonus of witnessing turtle nesting on the beaches.
- Waterways & lagoons: Tortuguero is a wetland wilderness and best experienced from the water. A boat trip is a wonderful introduction to the forest and its inhabitants including capuchin and howler monkeys, three-toed sloths, caiman and many birds. Exploring the lagoons by kayak allows you to enjoy their tranquillity while keeping an eye out for wildlife aided by your guide.
- Tortuguero’s turtles: The park’s name translates as ‘region of turtles’ and from July to October green sea turtles come ashore to lay eggs on the beach with hatchings emerging at the end of the season to make their precarious way to the sea. Hawksbill and leatherback turtles also use these beaches but in smaller numbers and are much harder to find. Guided tours have strictly limited numbers to protect the turtles.
- Forest walks & canopy tours: Most lodges arrange guided forest walks which enable you to experience different aspects of the forest, concentrating largely on plant life though with chances to watch wildlife. It may be possible to explore after dark, too, armed with a torch as you listen and look for nocturnal creatures. Zipline canopy tours let you admire the scenery from above while enjoying the thrill of the ride.
- Corcovado National Park: On the opposite coastline and in the very south of the country, Corcovado is very well worth considering as an alternative to Tortuguero if you have the time and a larger budget.