Despite the fact that it is remotely located in northeastern Costa Rica and accessible only by boat or airplane, the Tortuguero National Park is one of the country’s most visited national parks. One of the most important turtle sanctuaries in the western Caribbean, the park’s main draw is the sea turtles that nest and hatch on the beach.
Because of its wet, tropical climate, the Tortuguero National Park fosters a rich environment of rainforest, wetlands, mangroves, beaches, canals and lagoons that are all teeming in plant and wildlife species, making it a nature lover’s paradise. The most popular activity here is a guided walk on the beach to spot mother turtles nesting and hatchlings racing to the sea. The best time to view green and hawksbill turtles is between July and October, while the nesting season for leatherback turtles is from February to April.
However, the turtles are not the park’s only attraction. Visitors can take boat rides or paddle canoes through the mangroves and canals to glimpse a wide array of wildlife that includes mammals like manatees, sloths, river otters, tapirs, monkeys (spider, howler and capuchin); birds like green macaws, toucans, parrots and herons as well as reptiles such as giant iguanas, basilisk lizards and crocodiles.
Getting to Tortuguero National Park is every bit as adventurous as the park itself. Visitors will need to arrange a boat tour or rent a boat from the village of Tortuguero, which can be reached by airplane from San Jose. Tortuguero village offers restaurants, lodging and tour operators.