No roads enter Tortuguero National Park in northeast Caribbean Costa Rica, travel within the park is strictly by boat along connected waterways or by foot along forest paths.

Tortuguero, which means “place of the turtle”, is the most important nesting site for the green sea turtle in the region. During the nesting season, from late June until about October, thousands of turtles will come ashore at night to lay their eggs in the sand above the high-tide line.

Visitors can view this process on a tour with a certified guide. The park mostly consists of dense forest at low elevations, inland waterways, a 22-mile beach along its eastern border fronting the Caribbean Sea, a small village of Tortuguero, and an airstrip near its northern end on the coast.

This park can be considered Costa Rica’s “Little Amazon” and is one of the nation’s best locations to view abundant rainforest wildlife. From the comfort of small boats using ultra-quiet modern 4-cycle outboard motors, visitors can enjoy viewing and experience a rich photo adventure with herons, egrets and other water birds; three species of monkeys; caiman and less frequently American Crocodiles; green iguanas; basilisk lizards; and many species of rainforest birds including toucans, parrots, and sometimes even great green macaws. The number of bird species increases during the October fall migration, making birding here even more rewarding.

For a more personal way to experience the beauty of the area, adventurous visitors can go kayaking in the park. Fishing tours for tarpon, snook and other gamefish can also be arranged.

Recommended Hotels:

Hotel Manatus, Mawamba LodgeEvergreen Lodge

One day Trips

Turtle Nesting Tours, Sport Fishing, Kayak Tour at Tortuguero Canals

Tortuguero Highlights

King Vulture, Common Black Hawk, Laughing Falcon, Muscovy Duck, Great Curassow, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Agami Heron, Anhinga, Boat-billed Heron, Green Ibis, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Northern Jacana, Sungrebe, Purple-throated Fruit Crow, Great Green Macaw, Mealy Parrot, Red-lored Parrot, Long-billed Hermit, Black-throated Trogon, Slaty-tailed Trogon, White-necked Puffbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Amazon Kingfisher, Green and rufous Kingfisher, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Chestnut-mandibled & Keel-billed Toucans, Collared Aracari, White-collared Manakin, Passerini´s Tanager, Crimson-collared Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Black-cowled Oriole, Montezuma Oropendola.

Other animals that may be seen in their natural habitat are: Howler, White-faced Capuchin and Spider monkeys, Three-toed and Two-toed Sloths, Long-nosed Bats, Tayra, River otters & Collared Peccaries.

Among reptiles and amphibians: Striped-throated Turtles, Black River Turtles, Blue jeans Dart Frogs, Red-eyed leaf Frog, Emerald Basilisk Lizards, American Crocodiles, Spectacled Caiman, Boa Constrictor and Green Iguana.

Green Sea Turtle at Tortuguero: Jul, Aug, Set, Oct.

Leatherback Sea Turtle at Gandoca/Manzanillo: Apr, May. Hawk migration at Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve: Set, Oct, Nov.