Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Tortuguero, Costa Rica, which can be translated as Land of Turtles, is a village on the Northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica in the Limón Province. It gave its name to the neighboring Tortuguero National Park. The village is situated on a sand bar island, separated from the mainland by Tortuguero River and bordering the Caribbean Sea. Tortuguero is renowned for its navigable canals that run through the rainforest in the national park, and has such earned the nickname of 'Central America's Amazon'.
The beaches around Tortuguero are key nesting sites for four species of sea turtle, including two critically endangered species. The National Park is also host to an incredible biodiversity of insects, resident and migratory birds, and mammals, including jaguar and four species of monkey. Accordingly, there are four biological stations — the John H. Phipps Biological Field Station, the Caño Palma Biological Research Station, the ASVO station (ASociación de VOluntarios para Servicio en Areas Protegidas) and the GVI Jalova Biological Station — which operate from the area immediately around the village and concentrate on research and conservation of the local ecology, particularly the turtles.
The small village, which can be reached only by boat or airplane, is sustained almost entirely by eco-tourism. Population is estimated around 1200-1500, but more precise numbers will be available when the 2011 census results are published.
The ocean here can be dangerous to swim in due to rough surf and strong currents.
Tortuguero is only accessible by boat or plane.
Boat transportation is available via La Pavona to the North or Moín to the South.
Sightseeing and Nature Tours
Sea Turtle Nesting
One of the main reasons why people travel to Tortuguero is to see turtles lay eggs on the beach. Turtle watching tours are offered by nearly everyone during the egg laying season, which spans April to May for leatherback turtles and July to October for green turtles.
During September and October many local "guides" will offer tourists the opportunity to "help" turtle nests hatch.
The canals of Tortuguero gave the town its nickname of "Costa Rica's Amazon", and are a fantastic opportunity to see wildlife. Many guided boat tours leave Tortuguero and the surrounding lodges to see the wildlife, jungle, and canals.
Cerro Tortuguero has been officially closed by the National Park and National Reserve service due to overuse and habitat destruction. Many local guides will still offer tours. For hikers, Cerro Tortuguero is a small hill roughly 6 km north of the village, accessible only by boat. It's only 119 m high, but offers good views of the area.
- Caribbean Conservation Corporation who operate the John H. Phipps Biological Field Station
- Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation who operate the Cano Palma Biological Research Station
- Local villagers maintained website with details of travel and lodging
- Tortuguerovillage.com, A Community Run Website to provide information for all things local about Tortuguero, Costa Rica