Tortuguero Travel Guide

  • Chestnut Mandible Toucans
    Chestnut Mandible Toucans
    by Homanded
  • River to Tortuguero National Park
    River to Tortuguero National Park
    by Homanded
  • Tortuguero
    by mircaskirca

Tortuguero Highlights

  • Pro
    zrim profile photo

    zrim says…

     a region isolated from roads and highways 

  • Con
    BEETLE_VERTE profile photo

    BEETLE_VERTE says…

     It is going to rain 

  • In a nutshell
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    grandmaR says…

     One of Costa Rica's National Parks 

Tortuguero Things to Do

  • MUST DO LIST in Tortuguero

    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 TourCanal TourWalk through the National ParkHike Tortuguero HillTurtle Museum at the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC)Walk or tour through the villageTake a dip in the oceanSecrets of...

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  • Tour canals with a wildlife guide

    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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  • Visit a Banana Plantation

    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...

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  • Night Boat Ride

    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)...

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  • Rain Forest Walk

    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...

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  • Tortuguero: Paradise Found

    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...

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Tortuguero Hotels

Tortuguero Restaurants

  • Homemade pizza and fruit smoothies

    Dorlings is a cute restaurant that is open from 5am to midnight. They serve good pizzas - the smallest large enough to split with someone or take home for another meal. Their fruit smoothies (batidos) are also very good. They serve typical Costa Rican food as well.

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  • American cafe

    Cute little wood cafe with the very tall straw roof, gorgeous backyard on the river with a few more tables to enjoy the sunset, raggae music, eco ambiance if I might say with theme posters of rainforest, frogs, fishes, recycling, ... We felt right at home, at least very welcome and taken care of.The menu isn't quite develop, but offers a good...

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  • A legend

    Part of the Miss Junies Hotel, a large dining room is nicely set up next to the cabinas. Family feel, lace curtains over large wooden windows, open door attitude. I could imagine Miss Junies' head poking out the door and yelling at me "dinner!"Miss Junies' cuisine is THE MOST delicious thing I ever tasted in Costa Rica. Local flavor with a divine...

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Tortuguero Nightlife

  • Disco Balls Live On!

    There isn't much night life in Tortuguero. The local hangout is the La Cubra Bar, a long,narrow building that is built along the edge of the canal at the south end of town. We asked a local where we could sit & have a beer at 10 pm on a Sunday & he led us about 50' to the La Cubra.It cost us a beer for the directions & just to get rid of him. It...

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  • Boating in the Dark

    As it got dark (and the dark came really quickly - no long twilight), we went out in a boat along the canals.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. We saw a small crab (in the water), and some Yellow Crowned Night Herons, and a Boat-billed Herons. They...

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  • Tortuguero Hotels

    8 Hotels in Tortuguero

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Tortuguero Transportation

  • Bus and Boat from San José to Tortuguero

    It is possible to travel from San José to Tortuguero by public transportation. In fact, it's rather challenging, a mini adventure in itself. You have to take a bus to Cariari, then another bus to La Pavona and finally a boat to Tortuguero. Buses to Cariari leave from the Gran Terminal del Caribe. I was told that the first one departs at 6am, so I...

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  • Boats

    There is very little in the way of roads in Tortuguaro, so most travel is either by boat, train or plane. There are larger slow moving tourist boats with canopies where the guides take you along the canals, which is the way we took our tour from the cruise ship. I have read that we could arrange this trip on our own, but it seemed much easier to...

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  • Jungle Train

    There is very little in the way of roads in Tortuguero. Until the late 1970s, train and canoe were the only means of reaching this area. Many of Costa Rica's sixty thousand black people that still predominantly live along the Caribbean coast trace their ancestry to the ten thousand that were hired from Jamaica to build the Atlantic Railroad (for...

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Tortuguero Shopping

  • Tour Stop

    This was a shop at the landing where the boats left for the tours. They had a nice selection, but it was a problem if you did not have cash and they would not ship anything. You had to take everything back with you and pack it home in your luggage. When I was in Costa Rica before, I bought a lot of native craft items, so that was what I looked for...

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  • Tortuguero

    Suprisingly, there are a lot of gift shop in Tortuguero. Being such a secluded and small village, it suprised me to find 4 or 5 well furnished stores. It's not the place to find good bargain. Or that special unique local pieces. But a few unique find could be worth a detour if you're not on a boat touring the park or fishing or walking the beach or...

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Tortuguero Local Customs

  • Music

    While we were stopped at the boat departure point, they had a little band there that played music for dancing. I suspect that the band was there specifically for the cruise ship tours and might not be there all the time.

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  • Turtle Nesting

    We were unable to see any turtle nesting as we were there in February, which is about the only time that no nesting takes place.There are several species of turtles that nest, and their nesting seasons overlap somewhat. Green turtles are the most important species that nest at Tortuguero. An estimated 30,000 turtles come ashore every year between...

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  • Tortuguero Traffic

    There are no cars in Tortuguero at all. The only way to get around is by boat or foot. Some days it is as busy as a freeway & other days like a country road. At night there is a fair bit of "traffic" as residents go up & down the canal visiting.

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Tortuguero Warnings and Dangers

  • They MUST be Genetically Enhanced

    The mosquitos in Tortuguero can suck the living blood completely from your body, leaving you bumpy, and more importantly, ITCHY. A local friend took me to la farmacia (the pharmacy) where I was told by the pharmacist to take Allegra. I was a little skeptical at first. I had never ventured beyond "No Itchies" before, but IT WORKS!!! I was itch-free...

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  • No swimming

    The sea along this side of the Caribbean Coast is not suitable for swimming. The sea is very rough and there can be strong currents which makes it dangerous for swimming.

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  • Black Sand and Undertow

    Along the beach (Caribbean), there was too much undertow for much swimming (although I waded). One of the other couples went and sat in the surf to cool off, but I wasn't comfortable doing that.The sand was 'black', not golden or white, and it soaked up the heat from the sun, so it was hotter to walk on than you might expect.

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Tortuguero Tourist Traps

  • Turtle spotting

    If you happen to be in Tortuguero around May, don't waste your money on turtle spotting.There are three kinds of turtles that lay their eggs on the beach of Tortuguero: leatherback turtle, green sea turtle and hawksbill turtle. From February to July it's the leatherback turtle that comes to visit the black beaches of Tortuguero. At night you can go...

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  • Turtle's spawning

    I went to Costa Rica 14 years ago and in Summer 2004. Both times I went to see the turtles lay their eggs in the sand. It's completely different now. Everyone sould watch it, but 14 years ago we were 6 or 7 people in the whole beach and last summer we were a hundred waiting in a plane track to enter the beach in turns. Now you are allowed to see...

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Tortuguero What to Pack

  • Jungle protection

    Going on a package deal, you will leave most of your luggage in your hotel in San José and only bring a small bag with the necessary stuff for your 2 to 3-days stay. Bring light cotton cloths, a T-shirt with long sleeves and trousers for the jungle walk, slippers for the beach and a raincoat as this is one of the wettest areas of Costa Rica. Don't...

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  • Don't forguet

    Not many, as altough it's not a difficult trip you'd have to take a boat and all that. Bring lots of t-shirts cuz you're gonna be sweaty all day long. Bring repellent. It isn't really bad with mosquitos there but still...

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  • Because of Mosquitos

    Soft side bags, small - don't bring a roller bag because roller bags don't roll on sand or dirt very well Long trousers NOT denium jeans. Denium takes too long to dry in this hot humid climate. Long trousers and semi-long sleeves help protect from mosquitoes Sunscreen and mosquito repellant

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Tortuguero Off The Beaten Path

  • Air conditioned internet access...

    In the village of Tortuguero there is a house with small handprinted signs saying internet access. It`s a small house on the main street. They charge 1000 colones for 15 minutes internet access, and there are 7 outdated but very functional computers in a room that has air conditioning. The heat in Tortuguero is almost unbearable at times, even in...

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  • Have a stop at the Delmonte factory

    On your way from San Jose to the boat to Tortuguero, you will pass some banana plantations and a banana factory. This factory belongs to Delmonte. Have a short stop at the factory. It's an open factory where you will have a clear view how the bananas go from the tree into the transportation boxes.

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  • The Lonely Hunter in Tortuguero

    Take a trip to Tortuguero and go for a hike with Bill Sambola. Bill used to be a monkey and jaguar hunter in Nicaragua and has a lot of stories to tell you when you are paddeling together on the canals. Tru relaxation for your stressed mind and some workout for your arms. What else can you ask for? Nada!

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Tortuguero Favorites

  • Tropical Plants

    One of the reasons that I wanted to visit Costa Rica is because it has many kinds of tropical rain forests. Tortugero is a lowland area with an altitude of only 20 meters above sea level and with a few volcanic hills with heights of 100-300 meters. The vegetation is primarily that of palm swamps, but there is also some mixed rainforest, tropical...

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  • Reptiles: Lizards and Cayman

    When we were in Costa Rica in 1997, the reptiles we saw included alligator, iguana (photo 5), river turtles (photo 3) and cayman (photo 4). This time we saw mostly Jesus Christ lizards. That is the common name for the basilisk lizard which has webbed hind feet and can run upright over the surface of the water for a short distance. Smaller basilisks...

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  • Mammals

    The four main vertebrates that one sees in this area are amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. The main mammals are monkeys and sloths.When we came in 1997, the mammals we saw were howler monkeys and white faced monkeys (although not close enough to take photos of) . We heard the howler monkeys a lot. We also saw spider monkeys too. We only saw...

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Explore Deeper into Tortuguero
Poison Arrow Frogs
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A great map of Tortuguero
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Tortuguero Sea Turtles
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Don Chico - Tour Guide Extraordinaire
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Turtle tours
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Explore the canals
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Visit the beach
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The Natural History Visitor's Centre
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Visit the village
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Boat to Tortuguero (from Moin)
Transportation
By boat
Transportation
Tortuguero National Park
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The very forest
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Can't swim
Warnings and Dangers
Beach walk
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Tarpon fishing
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Hand fishing
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Cerro Tortuguero
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Night Tour in the Tortuguero National park
Things to Do
Day Tour in the Tortuguero National Park
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San jose to Tortuguero
Transportation
For the outdoors
What to Pack
Tortuguero
Off The Beaten Path
Crocodiles
Warnings and Dangers
Tortuguero Village
Things to Do
Turtles
Favorites
Strong undercurrent
Warnings and Dangers
Night Walk
Things to Do
Turtle Conservation Project
Things to Do
Jungle Trek
Things to Do
Boat trips
Things to Do
Airport transfer
Transportation
Flight to the coast
Transportation
Why you need a guide
Things to Do
Leaping Spider Monkey
Things to Do
Three-toed sloth
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Butterfly
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With Zrim as your co-pilot
Transportation
Dragonfly
Things to Do
Caiman or Mrclay?
Things to Do
Map of Tortuguero

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