Canoe Tour in Tortuguero National Park
$32 | Rating 4.88 / 5 [138 ratings]
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Bucket list experience:
Limon Province, Costa Rica
Tortuguero National Park, on Costa Rica’s northeastern Caribbean coast, is the best place in the northern Atlantic to see nesting and hatching sea turtles; four species can be seen including giant leatherbacks.
The dominant species is the Green Turtle – Tortuguero’s black sand beach is the most important nesting site for the species in the Western Hemisphere, thanks to half a century of conservation. Visit in the right months and sightings are virtually guaranteed.
There’s much more besides – some 160 species of reptiles and amphibians, 60 species of mammals and 300+ species of birds. Shoreside lagoons, filled with crocodiles stretch back from the beaches; gallery forests are busy with capuchin monkeys, toucans, spider monkeys, iguanas and three-toed sloths.
Lush hills rise above the whole landscape – offering stunning viewpoints that look as wild and primeval as the Jurassic World.
See it all on short hikes, boat excursions on the long lagoons or by kayak.
But this is wilderness with ease and comfort – there are accommodation options for adults of all ages and families with even the youngest kids.
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Tortuguero is remote and reachable only by taxi boat (from La Pavona or Moín) or air. The best way to visit is to book into one of the jungle lodges in the park. The accommodation will include turtle nesting tours (guides are compulsory), boat excursions, all food and pick-up from Tortuguero’s domestic airport.
There are cheaper guesthouses in Tortuguero village and a handful of local agencies there who offer tours. Kayaks can also be rented to explore the lagoons.
There are two essential tours in the region – a trip to the long, dark-sand heavily-protected turtle nesting and hatching beach, and a creek and lagoon wildlife-spotting boat tour. Turtle beach visits can only be done with a local wildlife guide. Stays at Tortuga Lodge and other of the more upmarket places include turtle-beach visits. They also generally include creek and lagoon wildlife tours by boat; together with other options like jungle hikes to look-out points and night safaris.
However, both these tours (and others besides) can be organised with independent local operators like Daryl Loth in Tortuguero village; where the cheaper accommodation is located.
Tortuguero is wonderful at any time of year but to see turtles nesting you need to visit between February and October (with July and August peak season for sightings). Hatchlings can be seen through until December.
Green turtles nest from July to October, leatherbacks from February to July, and loggerhead and hawksbill turtles from March to October. Hatchlings emerge 60 days after nesting.
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Tortuguero National Park, Limon Province, Costa Rica[5.4 miles]
Family-friendly, surrounded by lush forests and river, Tortuga Lodge is the best hotel in Central America to see nesting and hatching marine turtles.
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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience
Rainforests, powdery beaches, white-water rivers and towering volcanoes: this relaxed Central American country offers exceptional wilderness adventures in stunning landscapes.
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Best for ages: 13+ | Free