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Tortuguero is a village in the North East of the province Limón about 80 km north of the Caribbean city Limón in Costa Rica. It is the entrance of Tortuguero National Park which is one of the most popular parks of Costa Rica.
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Points of Interest in Tortuguero
Tortuguero National Park
Turtle hatching / turtle egg laying
- Tortuguerovillage - Official Website. This is the town's official website, built by Peace Corps volunteers, with information provided by the business owners themselves. It has many of the local places to stay, local shops, tour operators, travel information (instructions on how to get here for less), maps of the town area, reservations, National Park info, turtle tour information, and the famous top things to do in the area list.
Popular events in Tortuguero in the near future
The village of Tortuguero was founded in 1930 when a Colombian family settled in the area. The exploitation of the rainforest around Tortuguero began in 1940. In order to facilitate the transport of the timber canals were dug. Today there is little of primary forest left in the area. The largest part of the vegetation consists of secondary forest. In 1975 the national park was created to protect the area. As a consequence, a growing number of sea turtles nested on the long beach of Tortuguero. Tourism is the main source of income for the inhabitants of Tortuguero. The park has an area of 77,032 acres of which 52,000 acres in the Atlantic ocean.
The lowland rainforest of Tortuguero is the last remnant of the always humid Atlantic forest that once covered the entire Caribbean coast. In contrast to the coast of the Pacific Ocean there is no dry season but it rains throughout the year. A few months per year are relatively dry, such as September, October and February to April. The annual rainfall is about 3000 mm.
As is often the case, there is a range of prices and quality for tours in Tortuguero. To be sure that you are getting a qualified guide, ask to see his/her ICT certification card. As of 2012, only certified guides will be allowed to conduct turtle tours. Don't run the risk of getting kicked off the beach and losing your money!
The main reason why most people travel to Tortuguero is to see turtles lay eggs on the beach. Turtle watching tours are offered by nearly everyone (it seems) during the egg laying season, which spans April to May for leatherback turtles and July to October for green turtles. The tours leave in the evening and last 1-4 hours. Scouts find the turtles; you wait with your tour at the edge of the beach and are escorted to the right spot when a turtle is found along with all the other groups. This "turtle spotter program" is for the protection of the turtles themselves, and is 100% funded by sticker sales. Tourists are encouraged to buy a sticker for $4, and as you are required to use the spotters rather than walk the beach with your guide, not buying a sticker is basically cheating. Although the likelihood of seeing at least one turtle is extremely high in season (late July to mid September), there's no guarantee or refund. You must be accompanied by a local guide to see the turtles.
During September and October many local "guides" will offer tourists the opportunity to "help" turtle nests hatch. If you would like to see baby turtles, you can walk the beach in the very early hours, but digging up nests or touching hatchlings can be detrimental to their survival. Rather than pay someone who is making a living off of potentially harming endangered species, walk South along the beach into the national park, and stay along the vegetation. Your chances of finding hatchlings are high at the right time of year, and you won't have to pay anyone.
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 at 6AM to see the wildlife, jungle, and canals. Most of the lodges offer tours which use large boats with big motors and cannot get very far into the canals. A better option is a canoe tour. Canoes are basically silent and can go where the motorboats can't, allowing you to get away from the seemingly countless motorboat tours and see more of nature. Several people in the village offer canoe tours -- ask around.
Cerro Tortuguero has been officially closed by the National Park service due to overuse and habitat destruction. Many local guides will still offer tours, but be warned that by taking these tours you are not only violating park regulations but damaging a fragile ecosystem. 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. You can arrange a tour or charter a boat from the village, but it's also entirely feasible to go by yourself. The 11:30AM water-taxi will drop you off at a small community near the base of the hill on it's way to La Pavona, and will pick you up again around 2:30PM when it returns to Tortuguero. The path to the top of the hill is not marked, so you may need to ask for directions.
You may also walk along the straight jungle path within the national park that runs parallel to the beach, with or without a guide. Just remember that you are in the jungle and that it gets dark early!
The area is not safe for swimming due to rough surf, strong currents, and sharks.
- To Do List in Tortuguero. Best things to do in and around Tortuguero, and how to make reservations.
- All Rankin's Tours and Lodging, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Guided tours of green turtle nesting and other natural areas. A boat ride to and from Moín is also possible. Prices vary by tour..
As with the rest of Costa Rica, you will have lots of rice, chicken, and beans. Fresh fish may be available, ask around. For non-traditional food, your options are Wild Ginger or Budda Café.
- Wild Ginger, 150m N of the elementary school (from the park with big bird statues, head east toward the ocean, turn left after the school), ☎ +(506)2709-8240, e-mail: (at) gmail.com wildgingercr (at) gmail.com. noon-10:30pm. A new restaurant with modern construction that offers some latin fusion cuisine as well as classic American dishes. Indoor or outdoor seating, ocean view, hammocks, free wifi. $5-$15.
- Budda Cafe (150m N of the main boat dock). noon-8:00pm. Mostly Italian fare in a primarily open-air setting on the waterfront. Free wifi. $10-$25.
- Miss Junie's. Tortuguero's oldest restaurant, offering traditional Caribbean meals as well as some standard dishes. Small dining room filled with old photos of Tortuguero. May require reservations for dinner, breakfast and lunch for guests only. $10-$25.
- Miss Miriam's, North side of the football (soccer) field. Traditional Caribbean dishes, tiny unassuming dining room with some outdoor seating. $10-$20.
- Dorling's Bakery. Offers a variety of baked goods, sandwiches, pizza and typical Costa Rican dishes. $5-$15.
- Princesa Resort, Tortuguero, ☎ (506) 83359067. Caribbean and Costa Rican fare in a small open-air restaurant with ocean view. $10-$25.
- Soda Doña María, Main street, 200m N of the national park. Traditional Caribbean dishes in a tiny dining room off the side of the owner's house.
- El Muellecito (Adjacent to the main boat dock). Traditional Costa Rican dishes in a very unassuming locale.
- Soda Vista a la Laguna (Adjacent to the main boat dock). Empanadas, cheap meals of rice and beans. In the dead center of town, plastic tables and chairs under an awning.
- List of Restaurants in Tortuguero.
- La Taberna. Located directly across from Cabinas Tortuguero and right next to Bambu Supermarket at the southern end of town. Right on the water and is an excellent place to have a drink and watch the sunset. There are a couple pool tables and very loud karaoke. 1000 colones (2 USD) for a bottle of Imperial, Pilsen or Rock Ice.
- La Culebra. Very loud reggae music and very crowded on Saturday nights. 1000 colones (2 USD) for a bottle of Imperial, Pilsen or Rock Ice.
There are several small grocery stores and one hardware store in the village. There are also many shops that sell tourist merchandise (such as some beautiful hand carved wood). There is an internet cafe near the large pink souvenir shop and one near the main boat dock; the current rate is ~$4 per hour. Prices in the village tend to be expensive due to the remote location.
- Local Shops, Grocery Stores, and Others. See the list of many of the grocery stores, souvenir shops and their wares.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Tortuguero on Wikivoyage.