Tortuguero National Park is another of Costa Rica’s wonders, especially for animal lovers. Yes, the park is always humid, often raining and buggy and hard to reach (accessible only by boat or plane). But watching a sea turtle come ashore, slowly climb the sand to be far from the high tide, painstakingly dig a nest with her flippers, lay scores of eggs, cover up the nest and lumber down the beach to disappear into the sea is an unforgettable experience.
“Tortuguero,” in fact, means “turtle catcher” in Spanish. On the 22 miles of beaches, hundreds of Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead sea turtles lay eggs from July through October. Leatherbacks, the world’s largest sea turtles, nest in Tortuguero from February through July.
Also in the 77,032-acre Tortuguero National Park are miles of interconnected canals, built for logging. Now, these canals offer a refuge for crocodiles, sloths and many types of birds.
Turtle-watching tips: Turtle-watching takes place at night and is led by local guides. Reserve your tickets well in advance. Wear dark clothing and shoes to limit the amount of reflected light. More turtles come ashore to nest on moonless or near-moonless nights.