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Roadless and accessible only by boat or the small airstrip, Tortuguero is a village sandwiched between Laguna Penitencia and Laguna Tortuguero. This skinny peninsula is part of Tortuguero National Park, one of Costa Rica’s premier wildlife destinations.
We recommend flying from San José since it takes just 30 minutes and the views of the canals are impressive; this flight will save you a tremendous amount of time on the road and in boats.
With distinctive Afro-Caribbean cultural influences, Tortuguero offers a different take on Tico life.
The village serves as a base station for wildlife researchers because of its prime location for biodiversity—11 distinct habitats—in the surrounding rainforest, mangroves, lagoons, and beaches. Tortuguero National Park has more than 60 mammal species. It’s also where the endangered green sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.
Well north of Limón, there are no banks and only one ATM in the village. Many of the merchants only accept cash, so be prepared.
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Tortuga Lodge and Gardens sits on the shores of Río Tortuguero. With a total of 27 rooms, all have river views. The comfortable and well-appointed rooms are screened to catch the sounds of the rainforest and cooling night breezes.
Pachira Lodge Hotel sits on the main lagoon, surrounded by 34 acres of lush vegetation filled with exotic fauna, the lodge has 94 rooms and includes a trip to Tortuguero National Park, access to the hotel’s gardens, and boat transportation to Tortuguero for a tour of the town. Other options include a nighttime visit to watch the sea turtles nest on the beach, a sunrise boat excursion on the canals, and the hotel spa services.
Sitting between the Caribbean coastline and the lagoon, Laguna Lodge is an eco-resort with one aim in mind: simple, sustainable comfort for its guests. The lodge boasts 106 rooms spread over 15 acres of carefully planned botanical gardens that are full of birds and butterflies. In addition to a visit to the national park, the lodge offers sea turtle nesting and hatchling beach guided tours, a hike up 119-meter Tortuguero Hill, or kayaking the canals with a guide.
Tortuga Lodge’s bar serves a variety of Caribbean-themed cocktails. At the same time, the open-air restaurant mixes Tico home cooking with an international influence. The menu proudly boasts the dishes are “…what a Costa Rican grandmother would cook if she was also a creative and contemporary professional chef.”
Miss Junie’s, Tortuguero’s most delicious Caribbean eatery, has grown from a personal kitchen to a full-blown restaurant. The menu offers true-to-its-roots jerk chicken, filet mignon, whole snapper, and coconut-curry mackerel with “rice and beans” which is a Caribbean-side favorite of rice with beans in a coconut sauce.
Tutti’s Pizzeria and Restaurant’s lasagna and spaghetti dishes are popular, with plenty of pizzas and loaded calzones. Happy hour runs from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and it’s the only place in town serving artisanal beers.
A backstreet eatery, Taylor’s Place mixes a casual atmosphere with excellent cooking. The restaurant’s diners can enjoy the house specialties in a charming garden setting: beef in tamarind sauce, grilled fish in a garlic sauce, and avocado-and-chicken salad.
Tortuguero is one of the best places to visit for sea turtles.
Green sea turtle nesting season runs from July to mid-October.
Leatherbacks nest from February to June, so chances are good that visitors will spot turtles coming ashore during a night observation tour.
Tortuguero National Park mixes rainforest with an interlocking network of canals, rivers, and lagoons. The only way to explore the park is on foot or by boat. Guided tours of the park’s canals and lagoons are by boat, kayak, or canoe and are a restful way to savor the outdoors.
More than 300 bird species—migratory and resident—contribute to Tortuguero’s fame as a birder’s paradise. Hawks, falcons, cuckoos, owls, and nighthawks are just some of the park’s wild residents. Birding expeditions are by boat through the jungle’s many canals.
Planning your vacation with Adventure Air not only means getting you and the gang to your destination faster via flight, but it also means planning with experts that know the area and can create the vacation of a lifetime.