Tortuguero Costa Rica

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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The Labyrinth of Tortuguero Costa Rica

Tortuguero Costa Rica--notable for stupendous fishing and the thrilling migration of turtles onto its beaches to lay their eggs in soft sand. Remote and heavily forested, this northeast corner of Costa Rica is characterized by long, narrow strips of land separated by canals and lagoons. The surf is rough and the currents are strong. But what really discourages swimming are the sharks that haunt the shores! But to fish Costa Rica on the Caribbean, venture farther north around Barra del Colorado where the land is riddled with creeks and rivers that harbor hordes of tarpon and snook.

Tarpon, known as the king of game fish, and snook, known as a formidable foe, travel in and out of the ocean and the fresh-water rivers, depending on the time of year. Lodges in the Tortuguero Costa Rica area offer fishing outings, and knowledgeable boat crews know where the best fishing is at any one time. Catch-and-release is practiced on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica in keeping with the conservationist philosophy that protects the country's natural resources.

The World-Famous Turtles of Tortuguero

What a sight--a six-foot-long, 1,000-pound leatherback turtle ambles out of the ocean onto the sandy beach! Using her powerful flippers, she swishes sand this-way-and-that until she has a suitable hole for her eggs. The leatherback tends to arrive one at a time, from February to July. Hawksbill turtles also arrive from March to October; loggerhead turtles can sometimes be spotted.

The green turtle is the only species that nests here in great numbers. From mid-February to mid-October, take a hike with a naturalist guide (required to protect the turtles and their eggs) at night. Flash cameras are not allowed; in fact, any light or noise that would disturb the turtles is prohibited. For unique Costa Rica family vacations, consider this once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that few people in the world have witnessed!


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