Tortuguero, Limón

You may have seen one of those animal channel TV programs documenting the journey of sea turtles to their nesting grounds. It shows the mothers’ painstaking process of crawling up the beach to make a nest above the reach of the waves, and later, the hatchlings as they scurry toward the ocean. It’s an amazing spectacle, and one that you can see in person when you travel to Tortuguero in the Caribbean of Costa Rica.

Sea-Turtle Paradise

Costa Rica is a sea-turtle paradise, known throughout the world as such. Different species nest during various times of the year and in many different spots along Costa Rica’s beaches. But the activity is year-round and if you have a little flexibility in your vacation dates and where you stay, you can time a visit to catch either the nesting or the hatching process on either ocean side. The tiny town of Tortuguero is a delightful place to view this miracle of nature.

Summer is Nesting Season

The community takes an active role in preserving endangered sea turtles, and you will find a museum and visitor center in town with information and insights into the species. Summer is the nesting season for the green sea turtles that call Tortuguero home, and there are several hotels, cabins and lodges available in a range of prices. You’ll also find plenty of tours you can join to see the turtles nesting in the wild. It’s an incredible experience, and one not to be missed.

Take a Canal Ride

This town lies within the Tortuguero National Park; both the town and the park bear the name of Tortuguero marine turtles. The area is one of the most vital nesting sites in the western Caribbean for the green sea turtle. The hawksbill and leatherback turtles also nest along area beaches. You’ll have to fly or take a boat ride to reach this spot; Tortuguero is not accessible by vehicle. Navigating the network of Tortuguero canals is part of the overall experience, however, and the three-and-a-half-hour excursion helps set the mood for a magical visit far removed from other activities.

Rainforest Animals

The boat ride is anything but boring. As you make your way through Tortuguero canals, take note of the habitat around you. You’ll travel through areas of the rainforest, where trees rise from the swamps. These are popular spots for a variety of rainforest birds, and you’re likely to see egrets and other wading birds. Keep an eye out for both the colorful and the camouflaged among the several hundred birds that live in the rainforest.

Explore the Rainforest

The rainforest surrounds the Tortuguero area on three sides, offering you an opportunity to explore its beauty. Along with plenty of species to keep bird watchers happy, the forest is home to an incredible number of animals. You’re almost guaranteed to see a monkey or two. Get out and enjoy the scenery up close when you go hiking or canoeing, both popular area activities, and the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge is just across the canal.

Diverse Environment

The Tortuguero area offers a diverse environment, perfect for amphibians, birds and land animals. This region is a lowland, with more rain than any other spot in Costa Rica. With coastal banks on each side, a number of natural marshes, lakes and channels have formed in the middle, giving the area an abundance of marine life too.

An overnight visit to Tortuguero, Costa Rica should be high on your list of “Things to do” while you’re here. You can share a wildlife experience that many see only on TV and you’ll leave with some wonderful memories of Tortuguero marine turtles.

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