If you want to have a life-changing experience during your upcoming trip to Costa Rica, be sure to include in your itinerary a turtles nesting or turtles hatching tour.Costa Rica turtles
According to the Costa Rican Association of Tour Operators ACOT, the country is home to five of the seven species of sea turtles that inhabit the world:
The Pacific Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
The Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coricea)
The Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
The Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)
From a thousand turtles that are born only one will reach adulthood. All seven sea turtles species are part of the endangered animals list, being The Hawksbill critically endangered. This said, it is not a mystery why you should visit one of the many areas in Costa Rica that offer this spectacular natural marvel.
Where to go and when?
Year-round sea turtles arrive to the breathtaking beaches of Costa Rica, however it is important to plan ahead to make sure the area you will be visiting is on-season.
North Pacific Coast Ostional
Prepare to hold your breath as you witness thousands of Ridley turtles come out of the sea and enter a deep trance while performing the spawning ritual. This massive arrival or turtles is called Arribada and it lasts 7 to 10 days in the rainy season. We assure you that you have never seen anything like this, as Ostional is considered the leading nesting site for the Ridley Turtle in the world.
Ostional is located in Nicoya Guanacaste, 70 kms south of Reserva Conchal. The best time of the year to visit is August to October for the nesting and November to January for the Hatching.
The Ostional National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1984 to protect this endangered species and other flora and fauna found in 790 acres of land and almost 20,000 acres of ocean.
The largest Arribada that has been recorded happened in 1995 counting 500,000 turtles, according to the National System of Conservation Areas.
North Pacific Coast Playa Grande
Located north of the Tamarindo town, Playa Grande is part of Las Baulas National Marine Park. The largest marine turtle on earth, the Leatherback or Baula in Spanish, arrive to nest to the three main beaches of the Park: Ventanas, Langosta and Playa Grande. About 50% of the females of the Dermochelys Coriceaor Leatherback of the Eastern Pacific, spawn here.
The Leatherbacks nesting season starts in October until February, being December and January the peak months. The Hatchling season go from January to March.
Caribbean Coast Tortuguero and Gandoca-Manzanillo
The rich Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica offer two conservation areas for marine turtles watching:
Tortuguero National Park located in the province of Limn is an area of picturesque wetlands and a dense and impressive flora and fauna. In this national park, you can observe three types of species: The Green Sea Turtle, the Leatherback and the Hawksbill. The nesting season goes from March to October and the Hatchling from April to December.
60 kms south of Limn downtown, the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is not only impressive for the beauty of its beaches with the lush rain forest kissing the transparent water of the sea but for the giant Leatherbacks that visit its shores. The nesting season goes from March to June, with April and March as the peak months.
How can I experience this?
As the beaches where these beautiful animals arrive are protected areas, it is really important to plan ahead and always be guided by a professional. Let us know if you want to experience this natural miracle and we will find the perfect tour for you.
My Guanacaste Vacation is proud to have a deep commitment to nature, and we endorse the understanding that experiencing Turtle watching requires respect and responsibility from visitors, so we ratify that the following rules should be strictly followed:
- Always be accompanied by a certified local guide
- The tours are during the night, so it is prohibited the use flashlights as it disorients the turtles. Only a special red light can be used and always by the local guide.
- By any means, the turtles can be touched or approached directly.
- The use of cameras or flash lights is strictly prohibited.
- Always maintain an attitude of respect and silence during the visit.
- Do not deviate from your guide and walk only where you are told as you could step on a nest.
- No organic or inorganic material such as sea shells or plants can be subtracted.
- Mosquito repellent should be applied before entering the beach as it can harm the health of the turtles.
Remember that nature gives us a great gift when we are able to witness these events and our responsibility is to take all measurements needed assure its preservation.
How can I help?
If you feel moved after experiencing spawning or hatchling and wants to make a contribution, each of these protected areas have programs that you can be part of. The following links can help you find the best way to help: