Tortuguero Tourist Attractions
This small village is a collection of rustic wood residences on a narrow spit of land between the Caribbean Sea and a dense maze of canals. The 600 inhabitants of the village make their living from working in the tourist industry and farming and fishing to a lesser extent. There are no roads leading to Tortuguero, visitors can only reach the village via the Intercoastal Waterway or small plane.Reaching Tortuguero by canal is an attraction in itself. Hiking, canoeing and kayaking in the area offer excellent wildlife observation. The community takes pride in the adjacent national park and aids in the conservation of turtles nesting there. Cultural and geographical information as well as naturalist guides are available in the village.
Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park is the most important breeding ground for the green sea turtle in the entire Caribbean. The coastal park protects 19,211ha/47,451ac of land along with 52,000ha/128,440ac of the adjoining sea. Rainfall in the park reaches up to 6,000mm, making this one of the wettest areas in Costa Rica.Wildlife observation, especially turtle watching, is the main activity in this park. While there are many beaches, the coastal area is not suitable for swimming as the surf and currents are rough and strong. Sharks are common. Hundreds and even thousands of green and leatherback turtles can be viewed (guides are necessary) nesting and laying eggs on the beaches overnight. Conservation efforts have increased the amount of turtles nesting in the area by a great deal.A few hiking trails and boat rides along the canals offer sightings of monkeys, sloths, and kinkajous. Cats such as peccaries and tapirs are also present but more difficult to see. Freshwater turtles, lizards, snakes, frogs, toads and other amphibians are also common. Over 400 species of forest, oceanic, migratory and shore birds have been recorded in the park.2,200 species of plants and over 400 species of trees are present in the park, and this variety in habitats contributes to the diversity of the birds that are present. Unfortunately, in recent years the park has been undergoing extreme pressure from encroachment by ranches, plantations, loggers and tourist development.
Sea Turtle Conservancy (formerly Caribbean Conservation Corporation)
This research center features a small museum explaining turtle conservation and research. Courses in various biological fields are also available, as are volunteer programs that allow visitors to assist in turtle research.
At 119m/390ft, Tortuguero Hill offers steep hiking and vistas of the canals, forest, Caribbean Sea and various wildlife. This the highest coastal point north of Puerto Limón.