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TEFL Training In Costa Rica | Updated: 11/15/2022

A Weekend in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Written by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica

We are always looking for new places to explore in Costa Rica, and we recently spent a long weekend in Tortuguero.  Check out our tips and start booking your trip now!

Where is Tortuguero and why should you visit?

Tortuguero is a small, remote town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica that is only accessible by boat or plane and is famous for nesting turtles on its shores:  the giant leatherback, the hawksbill and  the loggerhead turtles; however, Tortuguero is the most important nesting site of the endangered green turtle in the Western Hemisphere. The green turtles nest from July  to October with hatching normally occurring in September and October and even into November. The beauty and wildlife of Tortuguero is off the charts and is a great option for a long weekend while living in Costa Rica!

How to get there?

To get to Tortuguero by public bus, you first need to take a bus to Cariari that leaves San Jose at the Gran Caribe Terminal Once in Cariari, you will need to take another bus to Pavona.  The ride to Pavona is about thirty minutes, and this is where you will get on the boat to Tortuguero. 

If taking a private shuttle or renting a car, you will go directly to Pavona.  It took us around two hours to get there from Heredia.  When renting a car, you will be able to leave your car in a secure parking lot by the docks of Pavona.  We were charged 4000 colones per night. 

From Pavona, you will take a small boat to Tortuguero.  Depending on the level of the river, this can take anywhere from just under an hour to two hours, and they typically charge 2000-3000 colones. 

If you'd rather, you can fly to Tortuguero from the Central Valley with Nature Air

Where to stay?

There are a number of hotels of all price ranges in the town of Tortugero and just a short boat ride away on the neighboring shores of the canals, but we highly recommend Rana Roja Lodge.   We stayed in one of the lodge's cabins, surrounded by the beauty of the jungle, during our three-night stay in Tortuguero. The hotel is a three-minute boat ride from the center of Tortuguero.  The price was very affordable.  We loved the location, and the food was good. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful, and Jacob, the manager, went out of his way to make sure we were comfortable and helped us with transportation and tours.  

What to do there?

First and foremost, try to go while the turtles are nesting or hatching.  Believe me, you will not regret experiencing this firsthand.  If you are there during nesting, you will most likely go on a night tour.  Jacob, at the hotel, set everything up for us at a great price, including the boat taxi to the meeting place, so check with him before booking anything.  Our tour was scheduled for about two hours, but almost half of that was spent waiting for the green light from the guys that work with the conservation efforts.  Tourists are allowed to only watch some of the nesting process in order to protect the turtles, so they let the guides know when we were allowed on the beach.  It was totally worth it though!  Such an amazing experience to watch her covering the eggs and make her journey back to the sea.  Very beautiful! 

If you are in Tortuguero while the babies are hatching, that typically happens during the day, and you are allowed to take pictures.

We also did the Cacao Tour one afternoon.  You can find this right in front of the entrance to the national park.  They normally do two presentations in the day that are about two hours long.  The Costa Rican biologist and his wife did an amazing job explaining the history and significance of cacao in addition to demonstrating the entire process of production from the raw beans to the hot, delicious drink.  Their hands-on demo was fun and very informative. 

Obviously the national park and the conservation organizations are great to look into during your time there as well, but to be honest, we spent a lot of time at our hotel enjoying the pools, hanging out on the dock (even watching a caiman casually swim by), and relaxing on the front porch of the cabin as the monkeys, iguanas, geckos and birds entertained us.

We never tire of this country, and hope you add this trip to your list of must-sees while you are living in Costa Rica!  Haven't yet registered for your 4-week, onsite TESOL course?  Contact us now!  

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