About Tortuguero Costa Rica
A visit to Tortuguero is of course to see the national park, the 19,000ha Tortuguero National Park, which is one of the most varied in the national park network. It is also one of the wettest, with up to 250 inches of rain throughout the year.
The park stretches north along the Caribbean coast up to the village of Tortuguero, which has a small population of around 500, no cars, and is located on a relatively narrow spit of land between the beach and a canal. Just north of Tortuguero are the various lodges and hotels. All these sections consist of a canal running parallel to the beach on the east and fed by a maze of serpentine streams and channels from the west.
Apart from the boat tours along the canals of the national park (or even beyond), you can walk along the pristine beach, or visit the simple Tortuguero village and the Caribbean Conservation Corporation´s visitor center and turtle museum. If energetic, you can also climb the only hill in the area, the short but steep 150m high Cerro Tortuguero, for a great scenic view of the canals and ocean. (But beware a fer de lance usually lying on the path uphill, which apparently the local guides know about!). The canals around the national park, and also the ocean, also provide good fishing.
One of the major world-renowned attractions of the park is turtles, from February to October for several species. The park is the most important hatchery in the western Caribbean for green sea turtles, but 3 other species nest at Tortuguero – hawksbill, loggerhead, and giant leatherback.
We recommend at least 2 nights, preferably 3 nights. Bring insect repellent, suntan lotion, and a light sweater or windbreak. You will need rain gear (ponchos, rubber boots, umbrellas, etc) but these are almost always provided by the lodge. For tours, or climbing Cerro Tortuguero, a guide is advisable as otherwise, you will not spot much wildlife. Your lodge usually provides the guide. You should bring films, although in an emergency these are usually available in Tortuguero village or even in your lodge. All lodges have plenty of boats available for tours, and you can either go on a fixed tour with others or on a private tour (more expensive). Boats and canoes are also available for rental, with or without local guide, at the village.
Many Tortuguero lodges have return transport from San Jose included in the package. This often includes the option to fly one of the legs.Otherwise visitors can choose to take a boat from Moin (beside Limon), drive to Cano Blanco (1 1/2 hours from Siquirres) to be picked up by a lodge’s boat, or fly to Tortuguero village. The drive to Moin from San Jose takes 3-4 hours. You can go by Gray Line bus, by taxi, take a domestic flight to the airport of Limon or to Tortuguero, or drive-by rented car (the trip through the Braulio Carrillo national park down the mountain is particularly attractive). 4×4 is not essential but is recommended if you intend to try out some of the gravel roads.