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Best things to do and see in Tortuguero

Are you looking for a unique destination in Costa Rica that allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature? Tortuguero is the perfect place for you! In this article, I will guide you through the incredible experiences and must-see sites that this magical corner of the country has to offer.

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What to see and do in Tortuguero (Costa Rica)

Tortuguero, located on the northeast coast of Costa Rica, is a fascinating tourist destination that combines nature, adventure, and wildlife in a unique environment. This tropical paradise is known for its long beaches, dense forests and, of course, the incredible variety of species that call this region home.

Next, we will introduce you to a variety of exciting activities that you can enjoy during your stay in this wonderful place.

Explore the Fascinating Canals on a Canoe or Kayak Tour

Immerse yourself in the serenity of the Tortuguero canals while sailing in a canoe or kayak. This experience allows you to closely explore the intricate channels surrounded by exuberant vegetation and discover the rich biodiversity that inhabits this area.

By renting a canoe or kayak, you’ll have the freedom to explore the canals at your own pace. Paddle gently through the water as you marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds you. The channels are full of life: you can spot tropical birds such as herons, kingfishers and toucans, as well as alligators and monkeys that come to shore.

The silence of the canoe or kayak allows you to sneak up on wildlife without disturbing their surroundings. You can stop at the points of interest that most attract your attention, such as small lagoons or narrow passages surrounded by dense vegetation. At every moment, you will be surrounded by the tranquility of nature and you will enjoy breathtaking views.

If you don’t have previous canoeing or kayaking experience, don’t worry. You can hire the services of an expert guide to accompany you and provide you with information about the local flora and fauna. They will also teach you paddling techniques and provide you with safety tips so that you can enjoy this experience to the fullest. It is an experience that I recommend you do only with a guide, since alligators and crocodiles inhabit the lagoon.

Visit Tortuguero Beach and Watch the Turtles Nest

Tortuguero beach is famous throughout the world for being one of the main nesting grounds for sea turtles. If you have the opportunity to visit during the spawning season (between July and October), you will be able to witness this amazing natural spectacle. Watch as sea turtles wash up on the beach to lay their eggs and marvel at the life that emerges from this process. It is important to remember that regulations must be followed in order not to disturb the turtles and ensure their protection.

Explore the Trails of Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park offers a network of well-maintained trails that allow you to enter the jungle and explore its biodiversity. Hike the trails and see the local flora and fauna in their natural habitat. You can come across howler monkeys, sloths, toucans, and a wide variety of plant and tree species. Remember to bring insect repellent and follow the park instructions for a safe and respectful experience with the environment.

Enjoy a Hike to Cerro Tortuguero

For hiking enthusiasts and lovers of panoramic views, a hike to Cerro Tortuguero is an experience not to be missed. This hill, located in the heart of Tortuguero, offers you the opportunity to climb to the top and enjoy spectacular views of the region.

The ascent to Cerro Tortuguero can be a bit challenging, but the reward is worth it. As you climb, you are immersed in the jungle and find yourself surrounded by lush vegetation. During the tour, you can come across a wide variety of flora and fauna species, such as monkeys, colorful birds, and tropical butterflies.

Once you reach the top, you will be greeted with a breathtaking panoramic view. From here, you will be able to contemplate the majestic landscape of Tortuguero, with its meandering canals, endless beaches and the ocean stretching to the horizon. It is a perfect time to take pictures, breathe fresh air and fully connect with nature.

Remember to bring comfortable shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, and enough water to keep you hydrated during the hike. In addition, it is advisable to do this activity with a local guide who knows the area well and can provide you with interesting information about the flora, fauna, and history of Tortuguero.

Discover the Fascinating Nocturnal Fauna on a Night Excursion

If you want to immerse yourself in Tortuguero’s wildlife in a unique way, a night tour will allow you to explore the fauna that emerges as night falls. During this experience, you will have the opportunity to witness nocturnal creatures in their natural habitat and learn more about their behavior.

Accompanied by an expert guide, delving into the darkness of the jungle will give you a whole new perspective. You will be able to listen to the sounds of nature while you walk along paths illuminated with special lanterns. Don’t be surprised if you come across vibrantly colored tree frogs, snakes, glowing insects, and nocturnal mammals like sloths and opossums.

Your guide will provide you with valuable information about the nocturnal life of the jungle and will help you identify the different species you encounter. In addition, he will teach you about the importance of preserving these habitats and how to contribute to the conservation of wildlife.

Remember that it is essential to follow the instructions of the guide and respect the natural environment. Avoid using flash on your camera so as not to disturb the animals and enjoy the experience of seeing nature in its most pristine state.

Where to stay in Tortuguero

The town of Tortuguero is very small, and you really shouldn’t worry about the location of the accommodation. Even if you stay a bit far from the center itself, in a few minutes walk you will find a restaurant where you can eat or you will arrive at the pier to do the tours.

I recommend that you prioritize finding a nice hotel/hostel that fits your budget; and, if possible, that it has good views of the lagoon.

If you are vegan, or want to save or eat healthy during your stay, in the very center of town there are two supermarkets where you can buy the basic things to cook. They are tiny but have a little of everything, including fresh fruits and vegetables.


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Is Costa Rica SAFE to Travel? 

Costa Rica is a moderately dangerous country, where nothing should happen to you if you go carefully and take precautions. Remember to follow these recommendations:

  • In case of robbery, do not resist physically.
  • Do not show a high purchasing power, that is, do not go with jewels, bags, etc … that are expensive.
  • Be careful if you go out at night, and stay in crowded places where you are surrounded by other people.
  • Thefts are usual, so don’t go with the camera or mobile in your hand or hang out of your neck.
  • Try to avoid carrying the backpack on the back. Put it in front of you, or use a belt pouch or a cross bag.

Personally, I spent 3 months traveling alone in Costa Rica (I visited San José, Puerto Viejo, Tortuguero, Dominical, Uvita, Bay Drake and Puerto Jiménez) and I did not find myself in any really serious situation.

Going down the street with the camera, several Costa Rican people approached and warned me that they were carefully with robberies, since they told me that they are very frequent.

In my case, during the trip they tried to steal 2 times and, luckily, I realized on time and I could avoid it. In any case, it is always a good idea to have travel insurance (👉5% discount) that can compensate you financially and help you if a medical emergency occurs.

If you are interested in traveling alone, I recommend this article about the reasons and benefits of traveling alone and this other article with tips for traveling alone being a woman. I encourage you to try it since it is a great and very profitable experience for oneself.

Eating VEGAN in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is not a country faced with vegan food. Anyway, they have some traditional dishes that are vegan or that you can ask without egg or sauces such as the pico of rooster (rice with beans for breakfast), black bean soup or rice with vegetables.

You should always ask if the purés or soups are made with some type of dairy product or meat broth, since at first glance they might seem vegan dishes but not be.

In San José you can find some vegan restaurants, but when you leave the capital the offer is very limited or non -existent. Next, I make three recommendations and in this link you can read tips to travel vegan.

  1. Try to stay in hotels that are characterized by cooking vegan and vegetarian dishes. This is the best option and the most practical for not having to be looking for places where to eat comfortable without always repeating the same dishes.
  2. Before going on a tour that includes a meal, always mention that you are vegan or vegetarian, so that they can adapt the food.
  3. Costa Rica is a country where you can find a variety of fresh products (fruits and vegetables) to prepare salads and breakfast with fruits. In any city or town, you will easily find some supermarket or stalls on the street where you can buy groceries.
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