Tortuguero, the hidden pearl of the Costa Rican Caribbean

One year ago I went on vacation to Tortuguero, Limon. The Turtle Beach Lodge Hotel was my choice to stay in the area. It took me a while to talk about this travel because it was a trip of two days, but full of adventures. So let’s start this article talking about how to get there.

view of a canal or river in tortuguero jungle, costa rica

You can not get there walking

Tortuguero is a land full of rivers. Building roads is not an option because of the wetlands. Also, the government declared this zone a protected area, so development is heavily overwatched. This decision was shared by many other governments and NGOs. For example, UNESCO declared Tortuguero a World Heritage Site because of the many species living there.
Because of these reasons, the main means of transport is the boat. You’ll find an airport there for small aircraft too.
But boats are everywhere, used as buses, taxis, goods transport, and fishing.
I arrived to Muelle La Pavona. Not a dock at all but a small beach river where the boats run aground to pick up travelers. Tourist can leave their cars there in a guarded parking lot.
I take the boat provided kindly by the Turtle Beach Lodge to the hotel. The route uses the La Suerte River. This river is not huge but enough big to be navigable. You can spot some species of amphibians and birds on the shores. If you are lucky enough, you can watch crocodiles, but these prefer the deeper waters near the coast.

In less than an hour we reach the union of an unknown river(to me), and the La Suerte River which forms a huge canal where you can find dozens of fishing and transport boats.
boats docking in the river bank, la suerte river, costa rica

Getting closer to my hotel in Tortuguero

The boat reached the canal that leads to the hotel, Caño La Palma. It is a very unique canal in Tortuguero because its waters are pitch black. It seems the coconuts of the tree palms fall on the water and the rotting process causes the water color.
After 10 minutes in the black water channel, we took a detour to a small waterway that lead the boat to the Hotel. Treetops cover the channel bringing the shades to visitants. At the hotel entrance, there is a dock for the boats. Before dissembarking, I was able to take pictures from a small crocodile that likes to wander the hotel lagoon.

small crocodile in lagoon

Staying at the hotel and visiting Tortuguero Main Town

The Turtle Beach Hotel is amazing, I received a delicious daiquiri drink from the staff and I was introduced to the lobby and my room.
The beach is some steps away. There are hammocks and seats everywhere, perfect to enjoy the peace of the Caribbean Sea.
The bar serves cappuccinos and beverages of all kinds and the pool is just right there. You can enjoy your drink on one of the huts distributed all around the property.
Comfortable armchairs are located in the lobby. You can enjoy a good time reading or chatting.
The hotel offers packages and these include tours. One of these tours is visiting Tortuguero downtown.

view of a hotel bar in costa rica

Tortuguero is a small town where you can find the entrance to the National Park of the same name. Also, different restaurants offer Caribbean food there. Other services are being offered there, such as stores.
The beach is quite crowded according to the season. The downtown offers a nice short walk where you can check many of these restaurants or buy a souvenir.
The hotel offers a tour of the Tortuguero National Park, previously mentioned. But it is offered during the nesting season of the baula and green sea turtle.
The turtles are the main attraction of the area, and the population of the town now respects and even protects the nest of the turtles.
After the town trip, the group I was part of, went back to the hotel for dining and resting.

crowded alley in Tortuguero, limon, costa rica

The next day

I woke up earlier for breakfast and the coffee was delicious. The hotel counts with two trails inside the property when a guide provided by the staff, takes you to check for more exotic animals.
Before going to the trail, the guide tells the guests to wear rubber boots offered by the hotel and use mosquito repellent.
The boots while not quite comfortable, protects you from snake bites. The guide makes emphasis on guests staying behind him and not going beyond the group.
Not a fan of snakes myself, I was glad that we didn’t find any. But on the trip, we found chocuacos, a rare bird that has a peculiar beak, and lots of red small frogs, lizards, and butterflies.
The mosquitos can be a serious issue if you refuse to use the repellant.
boat billed heron bird chocuaco in a branch
The trail tour ended and It was time for lunch. The next activity was kayaking in a “secret” lagoon. According to the hotel staff, only they offer kayak tours to this lagoon.
After taking a route of 30 minutes, the group I was part of reached the lagoon by boat. There, a lake of black and calm waters awaits the kayaking enthusiasts for a relaxing rowing time.
The hotel provided all the equipment needed for the activity. I just took the time to row slowly around the place and enjoyed the moment.
Then, I just decided to walk around, the beach is very close to the lake. I found some birds here and there.
guy kayaking in tortuguero lake, costa rica

Just one night else

The rest of the afternoon and the early night, I spent playing pool, swimming in the pool, and drinking some beverages from the bar. I had fun, met people, and went to the beach for a brief moment to watch the stars.
The complete lack of artificial light in the area allows a marvelous view of the milky way.
The next day, after breakfast, the boat was ready to drive the guests back to Pavones’ pier.
I want to thank The Turtle Beach Hotel for hosting me on those days. I really enjoyed the trip and Tortuguero is worth visiting again.
In my opinion, I just discovered a small portion of all the activities one can do in the area. I’ll be back for sure.

people on a boat at tortuguero