Sea life intermingled with the land makes Tortuguero an eco-tourist's dream

The calm waters of Tortuguero
The calm waters of Tortuguero

With one of the richest biodiversities in the world, Costa Rica has long been considered among the top travel destinations for more ecologically-minded tourists. Whether it's the native monkeys that roam freely through the Central American nation or the countless species of migratory bird that call it home for several months out of the year, there is always something to see in the small country. Yet some travelers are more attracted to the creatures that live just off the shores of Costa Rica and would prefer a bit of sea life in their journey through Costa Rica. For these travelers, Tortuguero may be the perfect destination.

Remote Destination

Accessible only by boat and plane, Tortuguero is one of the most remote destinations in Costa Rica, as it is partly located within the Humedal Caribe Noreste (a wetland of national importance), marking the site as a wetland of international importance. The city borders the Caribbean Sea and boasts an extensive collection of interconnected and navigable canals that lend a unique and authentic feel to one's visit.

Tortuguero itself is a small but colorful village that offers travelers a glimpse of what every day life in Costa Rica is like. There are a number of inns and restaurants located within the city, though these can fill up very quickly during the busy tourist seasons, so travelers are urged to book in advance.

Marine Turtle Nesting Grounds

The town's main attraction is also the inspiration for its name, as Tortuguero's 23 miles of beach and coastline (37 km) are protected nesting grounds for the green sea turtles. These majestic creatures crawl to shore four months out of the year (from July-October) and lay their eggs in the soft Caribbean sands of Tortuguero National Park. Nighttime tours are available, giving travelers a chance to get an even more intimate look at the life cycle of these gentle animals. It is a general rule that visitors plan to stay at least two nights in Tortuguero, since the early morning hours before dawn are best to catch the turtles.

Other species of turtle known to have used Tortuguero as a nesting ground include the hawksbill and the leatherback marine turtles.

Hiking in Tortuguero

Travelers visiting off season need not worry, as there are plenty of non turtle-related activities to enjoy in Tortuguero. Visitors can take a quick boat ride to Cerro Tortuguero and hike to the top of the hill for an excellent view of the area, search for river manatees in the canals of the national park or study up on the local wildlife at the Dr. Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge or the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge.

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