Central Pacific Conservation Area

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Tortuguero National Park

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Tortuguero Costa Rica
Area   77,032 acres

  Limon Province

Date of Creation   13 November 1975

Measuring a Green Turtle Costa Rica

Tortuguero National Park Costa Rica

Driving Directions

From San José, Costa Rica, take the Guapiles highway toward the city of Limon. Near Limon, at the Bay of Moin, is the beginning of a navigable canal which leads northward through the Cariari National Wetlands and into the wilderness area of Tortuguero National Park. Boats are available in Moin, schedule early morning departures only.

Park Attractions

Tortuguero is one of Costa Rica's most popular National Parks. It is a wilderness area with great biological variety. The wildlife is rich and diverse, with eleven different defined habitats. These include high rainforest, littoral woodland, slope forest, swamp forest, holillo forest, herbaceous swamp and herbaceous lagoon.  Mammals, birds and fish are numerous.

Tortuguero Costa Rica

The habitats for which Tortuguero National Park is most famous are the coastal and marine areas. Strong Caribbean currents have provided a long, straight 22 mile expanse of beach which is a favored nesting ground for sea turtles.  Hawksbill, loggerheads, and Pacific Green turtles nest from July through October. The Leatherback , the largest sea turtle species in the world, nests from February to July.

Newborn Leatherback Tortuguero Costa Rica

Water is an abundant natural resource with up to 240 inches of rainfall per year. An infinite number of interconnected channels, waterways, lagoons and lakes are fed by rivers that carry their inland sediment load to the coast.  Occasionally, the sediment filled plain is interrupted by forested rolling hills, composed of ancient volcanic cinder cones, such as Tortuguero Hill and the Lomas de Sierpe, which looms over 1,000 feet.

To the north of Tortuguero National Park is the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge, whose habitats and climate are similar to Tortuguero.

The south end of Tortuguero National Park is bordered by the mouth of the Parismina River, and the Cariari National Wetlands

Nestled between these two large parks, at the mouth of the Tortuguero River, you will find the town of Tortuguero, as well as the Dr. Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge, which operates a biological station and turtle tagging program run by the Caribbean Conservation Corporation.

Park Facilities and Hours

There are three park stations within Tortuguero National Park, open for visitor attention from 8am to 4pm.

Costa Rica Baula Turtle Leatherback

Cuatro Esquinas Headquarters
has camping available. It is at the north end of the park, in the town of Tortuguero. You must pass through here to get access to the beach area. Three trails are in this area:  The El Gavilan Trail leads southward through the forest about  a mile and ends on the beach. A short walk north along the beach brings you back to the station.  La Ceiba and La Bomba trail take you up Tortuguero hill, to a tower which provides a scenic vista of the region.

The Sector Jalova Station is on the south end of the park, near Jalova Lagoon, north of the town of Parismina. The El Tucan Nature Trail begins at the station and parallels the Cano Negro waterway.  Two other trails provide short nature hikes, Tragon and La Ranita Roja.

Man Made Navigable Canal

The Aguas Frias Station is on the western border of the park. You can reach it by turning north off the highway at Guapiles, and driving through the town of Cariari, Pococi. The Los Raudales Nature Trail leads to the scenic lookout point (1,000') at Lomas del Sierpe.

© 2005-2023 CCSA all rights reserved - Costa Rica National Parks data and maps adapted from SINAC and MINAE