Tortuguero Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Tortuguero

  • MUST DO LIST in Tortuguero

    by alankorskey Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    As with all exciting destinations, there are few things you DON'T WANT TO MISS if you come to Tortuguero; Here is a list of the most popular attractions:

    Turtle Tour
    Canal Tour
    Walk through the National Park
    Hike Tortuguero Hill
    Turtle Museum at the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC)
    Walk or tour through the village
    Take a dip in the ocean
    Secrets of the Jungle Canopy Tour
    Relaxing Massage on the Beach


    Turtle Tour

    If you come to Tortuguero between April and October, you can have an opportunity to see giant sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach outside the pueblo at night. Tortuguero is the primary Atlantic nesting site for the green turtle, but if you come early in the turtle season you might even be lucky enough to sea a larger-than-life Leatherback turtle. There are tours every night during this season, at 8pm and at 10pm, typically costs around USD $10. There are numerous tour guides throughout the pueblo (nearly every business has connections with someone who does tours). If you plan on seeing the turtles, youshaould bring some dark clothing, comfortable walking shoes, and rain gear if it looks like it might rain. Flashlights and cameras are not allowed on the beach. NOTE: During turtle season, the beach is closely monitored by the National Park and Caribbean Conservation Corporation personel for the protection of the turtles. You must have a registered tour guide with you to be allowed on the beach itself.
    If you come to Tortuguero from November to early January, you may not be able to see the big turtles, but you could be lucky enough to see a nest of baby turtles make their first run to the ocean. There are nests all along the beach, and if you go walking on the beach during the early morning or late evening when the sun is not hot, you are likely to stumble across some. You can do this independently, but there are also tour guides who will help you spot some for a fee. Please do not support guides who dig up the baby turtles before they are ready to hatch. This puts the turtles at increased risk.

    Turtle Scout Program
    Please protect our turtles and support the Turtle Scout Program.

    Canal Tour

    Located in the tropical rainforest, Tortuguero is surrounded by rivers and canals on all sides. If you elect to go on a tour through thesmall canals, you will be able to get close to nature and see many canalof the land, air, and water species for which Costa Rica is famous, including monkeys, caiman, river turtles, iguanas, and many different species of birds. There are many good guides in the village who can help you spot the animals and tell about the abundant exotic flora and fauna. You will need to have a ticket to enter the National Park for this adventure. Tours are offered in canoe and in small motorboats. If you are the independent-type, you can also rent a canoe from one of the tour agencies that provide this service, get a map from the National Park station, and set out on your own. (click here to see the tour operators)



    Walk through Tortuguero National Park

    National parkTortuguero National Park is located on the far south side of the village (just follow the main street until it ends at the park entrance. The park guards are friendly and helpful, and you can buy entrance tickets and rent rubber boots (it can be extremely MUDDY!) there. There are several trails you can hike on through the park, where you will be able to get really close to some amazing natural beauty. There are also many tour guides who will take you on very informative tours through the park and help you spot the wildlife.


    Hike Tortuguero Hill
    Tortuguero Hill is the highest point on the Caribbean side of the country (approximately 119 meters). It is located a 10 minute boat ride from the main village just outside a small comTortuguero Hillmunity called San Francisco. You can find a good tour guide in Tortuguero, which can be a good idea, as the trail can be a little difficult to find at times. There are also many people in San Francisco who are happy to serve as guides on this unforgettable hike. On a clear day you can see a very nice areal view of Tortuguero and the surrounding areas. The hike typically lasts about 2 hours round trip. The hill can be very slippery and muddy, bring good shoes and bug repellant!


    Turtle Museum at the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC)

    Baby TurtleThe CCC is located at the far north end of the village (just follow the main street, you'll see signs). At their visitor's center, they have a small museum that tells you all about the nesting cycle of the turtles, as well as facts about other wildlife and development here in Tortuguero. The staff are friendly and helpful, and will answer any questions you have. They ask for a donation of 500 colones (about USD $1) as an entrance fee.


    Walk or tour through the village
    Tourist DockTortuguero is a unique, beautiful village with a rich culture. Don't be afraid to explore it! You'll see a lot of typical Caribbean architecture and artwork on the homes, as well as get a glimpse into the lives of the local people. There are also many tour guides that will show you around for a fee. They have a deep knowledge of the history of the town and the surrounding areas.




    Take a dip in the ocean

    SwimmingMany of the tour books tell you not to swim on the beach here. However, the locals go swimming all the time. If you'd like to cool off, just take a few simple precautions. Be aware that there are often strong currents, so it is a good idea not to go in past where you can firmly touch the ground. Although there are sharks out in the deeper waters, there has never been a reported shark attack. Also remember, the sun is VERY strong here. Be sure to bring good sunscreen and reapply often.


    Secrets of the Jungle Canopy Tour
    Canopy TourThis is an amazing, exciting, and thrilling way to spend a couple of hours and $35 US dollars. It is a tour through the tree tops in the canopy of the jungle along a series of zip-lines and bridges. You will get to see jungle life from almost 100 feet above the forest floor. The equipment is professional grade and the platforms and sky bridges are safe. The accompanying guides are more than helpful with their equipment expertise, knowledge and eye for the incredible natural surroundings, and in dealing with your inevitable nervousness about climbing 75 feet and flying along at the top of the jungle. They really make every effort to help you feel comfortable enough to really enjoy the tour. So if you are over 5 years old, and you want a thrill, it is recomended you give this tour a try. Call 506-709-8209, or 506-341-8780 for reservations. Visit www.secretsofthegreenjungle.com


    Relaxing Massage on the Beach

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    Enjoy a relaxing massage on the tranquil Tortuguero beach withnothing to disturb you but the soft ocean breeze and sounds of nature. You can also choose from a variety of professional spa services, including manicures, pedicures, and special body treatments with minerals, coffee, or chocolate. Click here for more information.

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    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • National/State Park

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    Tour canals with a wildlife guide

    by no1birdlady Written Mar 27, 2011

    Our tour provided wildlife tours with guides in small boats. These went out onto the canals of Tortuguero. The guides were excellent and we saw a lot of these Green Iguanas which are orange in the mating season. We also saw many Howler Monkeys, Green and Ringed Kingfishers and much much more. The tours lasted about 2.5 hours.

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    • Birdwatching
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Visit a Banana Plantation

    by grandmaR Updated Mar 1, 2009

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    Banana plants
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    As part of our tour, we went to a banana plantation and saw the process there. Of course since it was Sunday, none of the machinery (photo 2) in the packing house was working.

    The guide explained that the process the banana production process consists of four major segments: plant growth, fruit protection, harvest, cleaning and packing and shipping.

    The banana plant is a large, tree-like herb that grows from a corm (photo 3). The mother plant dies after fruiting and several daughter plants (suckers) emerge from the side of the corm and eventually produce a new bunch. The bunch comes from a large bud after approximately 6-8 months. Within this bud are tiny flowers that will eventually develop into bananas.

    After the stem has emerged, the fruit protection process begins. Fourteen days after the stem has developed, the fruit is bagged to shield it from sun and insect damage.

    There is an intensive cable infrastructure for the transport of the harvest to the packing plant. A pair of workers cut the banana bunches and pull the load along the cables to the packing house. The packing houses are only open just before a cargo ship is scheduled to dock at Limon several kilometers to the southeast, since the time it takes for the harvested bananas to ripen is fairly short, and the picked bananas can't be stored for very long and arrive at the American or European markets too ripe.

    He told us not to give money to the kids who were there because they didn't want them skipping school when the cruise ship was in, so we didn't,

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    • Cruise

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    Night Boat Ride

    by grandmaR Updated Mar 1, 2009

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    Guide with a small caimen
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    We took a night boat tour. The guides had powerful search lights to find alligators and crocs, but they also ran down the river in the pitch black with NO lights. VERY exciting and VERY scary.

    We saw a small crab (in the water), and some Yellow Crowned Night Herons (photo 5 from 2008), and a Boat-billed Herons.

    They also captured (and released) several caimans- one a good 5 feet long. We also saw bats, one bat flew through the searchlight with a raptor in pursuit. The guide said it was a falcon, and I suppose it could have been a bat falcon, but I suspect it was an owl.

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    Rain Forest Walk

    by grandmaR Updated Mar 1, 2009

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    Howler monkey in 2008
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    After breakfast, we took another river and canal tour and saw the Yellow Crowned Night Herons, Cattle Egret, Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) - an egret in photo 4, Green Backed (Green) Heron , Ringed Kingfisher (Ceryle torquata), and Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon), plus anhingas (photo 3) holding their wings out to dry. In the forest we saw lots of mosquitoes (the back of Bob’s pants were black with them), some poison arrow frogs, (2 kinds - one is on photo 2) and a toucan (Canphastos swainsoni) eating fruit and dropping the seeds down onto the path. One that we saw in 2008 is in photo 5. We also saw trees with long nasty spines on their trunks. I sweated so much I got sweat up my nose!!

    Along the river, we also saw a crocodile about 5 feet long, spider monkeys and when we came back to the camp, there was a huge (3 foot) iguana in a tree over the landing, and also howler monkeys.

    When we came back in 2008, we did another canal tour and I got more (and better) pictures.

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    Tortuguero: Paradise Found

    by risse73 Updated Mar 3, 2008

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    I went on a full day tour to Tortuguero National Park and it was an AWESOME adventure! It was teeming with wildlife and the natural habitat was quite remarkable.

    I highly recommend the services of Jungle Tom Safaris as the tour was organized, service was efficient, and the tour guides were knowledgeable. They offer multi-day and full day tours to Tortuguero and the prices are quite reasonable. They were highly recommended by people I had met in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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    Tortuguero Sea Turtles

    by kgduke Written Sep 4, 2007

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    Everyone who comes to Tortuguero is coming to see the sea turtles. If you come between late July and Sept, you will see the green sea turtles coming to lay their eggs. Between Sept and Oct, you may see hatchlings at dusk and dawn on the beach.

    Turtle tours are only from 8-10pm and 10pm-12am. You MUST have a guide ($10) and be in a group of no more than 10. Only 400 people are permitted on the beach to see the turtles each night, so if it's high season, sign up early.

    Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes - if a turtle comes ashore a mile away, off you go! There is a limit to the amount of walking - you generally start in the middle of 5km of beach that are allowed to be visited. So the longest walk you could have is 2.5 km.

    No cameras are allowed on the beach and people are requested to wear dark clothing. Anything light scares the turtles away. Guides will have red-lights that will somewhat illuminate the turtles.

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    • National/State Park
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Don Chico - Tour Guide Extraordinaire

    by kgduke Written Aug 31, 2007

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    Chico, as everyone calls him, lives right next to Miss Miriam's and is happy to answer questions and arrange tours for you.

    Chico took me on a three hour canoe tour for $15 even though I was by myself (many guides will not take just one person or will raise the price). We saw caiman, sloths, herons, kingfishers, snakes, iguanas, turtles, spiders, monkeys, etc.

    Chico even brought a cushioned seat for me to sit on as well as a laminated wildlife guide to use as a reference. Chico is a one-man operation, had loads of experience, is friendly, knowledgable, and trust-worthy. Definitely seek him out!

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    • Birdwatching

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  • Turtle tours

    by travel10000 Written Dec 1, 2006

    Turtle Tours are seasonal. Check the following sites for more info.

    http://www.cccturtle.org/ccc-costarica.php
    http://www.cccturtle.org/pdf/reports/Tortuguero%20Green%20Turtle%20Report%202005.pdf - graphs start at page 33 showing turtles per month
    http://www.tortugueroinfo.com/usa/sea_turtles_tortuguero.htm
    http://www.parismina.com/turtle.htm - Parismina is south of Tortuguero, but the turtle season should be similar - click on Turtles on top - low cost volunteering program
    http://www.geocities.com/tortugueroinfo/main.html - Tortuguero Information Center

    I would say go when there is a full moon (or closer to it) so it will be lighter and you would see the turtle better.

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    Visit the beach

    by Kindra Written Aug 22, 2006

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    Caribbean Sea, children playing

    Tortuguero Village is sandwiches between the canals and the Caribbean sea- this blacksand beach can be polluted, is full of logs and wood that wash up on the beach and can be infested with black flies (because of the turtle eggs). This is not exactly a place to sun tan and swimming is not recommended due to the rough waters and bad current. But a stroll up the shores can be relaxing and the beach at night is of course home to the turtle nesting sites.

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    The Natural History Visitor's Centre

    by Kindra Written Aug 22, 2006

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    The Natural History Visitor Centre

    In the north part of the village near the beach, you will find this small visitor's centre which offers information on the various turtle species that lay their eggs in the National Park.

    The centre doesn't open up until 2 pm and you will have an opportunity to donate money and ADOPT a turtle.

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    Visit the village

    by Helga67 Updated Jun 9, 2006

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    Tortuguero

    The village has the same name as the national park. It's a small place that only can be reached by boat or plane. Yes, it has its own airport. The village has one main road leading from the airport to town (about 7 km). There is a supermarket, school, church, a couple of souvenir shops, some restaurants and 2 discos.

    It's a relaxing village where the majority of the people are descendants of the black people of the Caribbean.

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    Tortuguero National Park

    by Helga67 Updated Sep 7, 2005

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    Tortuguero NP

    The park is made up by a system of natural and man-made canals. The best way to see most of the park is from a boat. During a 2-hour boat trip you will see many birds (parrots, toucans, herons, vultures, hawks ...), monkeys (howler, spider monkey and white-throated capuchin), caymans, lizards, ..
    It is amazing all the jungle sounds you'll hear while out there in the jungle.

    Entrance Fee: 7 USD
    Open from 8 am to 6 pm

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    • Jungle and Rain Forest

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  • The very forest

    by endbegins Written Jun 7, 2005
    Tortuguero

    Although it's much more crowded than it used to be, it's still amazing. Lots of natural channels in which you'd experience the wildness of nature. Many types of plants and animals around you. Take a guided hike, visit the village, relax in your lodge pool, watch the turtles,etc.

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    • National/State Park
    • Jungle and Rain Forest

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    Beach walk

    by BEETLE_VERTE Written Mar 17, 2005

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    Whimbrel on the Caribbean sea beach

    The beach of Tortuguero on the Caribbean sea stretches for 5km north and over 40km south. Plenty of soft blond sand, white musical waves, blue sky and litte seabirds on that strip of paradise!

    We took an afternoon and walk to the tortuguero river's mouth, 5km north of the village. The experience is unique and very enjoyable. But you have to bring a few thing: lots of water, fruits, hat, sunscreen and a dog.

    One of the stray dogs of the village decided to follow us and spent the day with us. A beautiful golden dog, well manered, well groomed, very active. He enjoyed running after thrown baton, snooping around on the forest edge, getting a pet from us and just running around in the water. A very entertaining dog!

    We had a great time, a very relaxing day with nothing to plan, nothing to catch, nothing to organised. A fun way to explore the Tortuguero area.

    Careful, we can't swim in the sea here. Too chaotic. Only dip our burning skin up to our knees...

    There's also a 2km long trail, the El Gavilan trail, south from the Cuatro Esquinas ranger station at the south end of the village, that takes in both beach and rainforest.

    More pics of Tortuguero in my Tortuguero travelogue.

    Related to:
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    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Beaches

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Tortuguero Things to Do

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