9 Best Things to Do in Tortuguero

What to expect when visiting Tortuguero

Tortuguero is the epitome of what you imagine Costa Rica to be like.

It’s a magical town surrounded by nature and wildlife. If you love nature you’ll fall in love with Tortuguero during your time in Costa Rica.

You can just be walking down the beach and see stingrays chilling on the shore as the waves crash upon them. Or walking down a path and see a couple of sloths hanging about in the tree.

Thanks to the fact that Tortuguero is home to 11 different habitats, you’ll be able to experience such a diverse variety in nature and wildlife. This includes a rainforest, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches and lagoons.

Tortuguero rainforest in Costa Rica
Rainforest in Tortuguero National Park

We can’t emphasise enough what a truly magical place it is. Chances are high that it will become your favourite place in Costa Rica, but we’ll leave you to find that out for yourself.

Let’s explore the top things to do in Tortuguero:

Top tours in and around Tortuguero

#1 Take a canoe tour through Tortuguero National Park

Boat tour in Tortuguero Costa Rica
Travellers exploring Tortuguero National Park by canoe

The best way to explore Tortuguero is via its waterways. You’ll get to experience true peace and harmony as you admire the dense jungle on either side of you.

The tours are done in either electric, silent motor canoes or ones that are actually powered by your guide using a paddle! 

You’ll get to learn about the natural history of Tortuguero National Park, as well as spot a variety of animals and plants. Your guide will be able to tell you so much information about the wildlife that you’ll feel like an expert afterwards too!

TIP: Do keep an eye out on the water around you, as you may spot a caiman crocodile lurking around.

The tours tend to last around 3 hours. We’d recommend taking a tour that starts early in the morning, as the animals like to venture out of their hiding spots before it gets too hot!

One of the best-rated tours is the Canoe Tour with Tortuguero Adventures, which costs $35 per person.

Book here: Canoe and wildlife tour through Tortuguero National Park for $35

#2 Watch turtles give birth on the beach at night

Sea turtle in Tortuguero Costa Rica
Turtle going back to the ocean after laying eggs on the beach

Tortuguero isn’t called the ‘place of turtles’ for nothing. Between the months of July to October, over 20,000 female Green Turtles come to nest in Tortuguero each year.

Loggerhead, Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles also nest there, but the chances of seeing them are very low.

With a number of the turtle species now highly endangered, the locals do their best to protect the turtle eggs, without interfering with nature.

During this season, the beach is closed and patrolled by the coast guard to prevent the turtles from being disturbed and also to stop poachers.

Therefore, the only way to see the magical event of the turtles giving birth is to join a night time tour.

How do the tours work?

Baby turtle in Tortuguero Costa Rica
Baby green turtle making its way to the water

The guards patrolling the beach alert the tour guides of a turtle on the beach. Small groups are then given the chance to observe the mother turtle from a distance.

You’ll get to see the strenuous and exhausting work the mother has to go through, digging the hole, laying the eggs, burying and then camouflaging the eggs.

The tours run at 20:00 and 22:00. Which time you get is randomly allocated by the national park when you book the tour.

You can book the turtle night tour with Tortuguero 7 Hostel Tours which costs $30 by sending them a message on Whatsapp +50688316401.

$6 of each ticket goes to the Sea Turtle Conservancy organisation, so you’re also helping out the turtles! 

#3 Discover new animals on a night walk 

Frog in Tortuguero Costa Rica
Red-eyed treefrog hidden in the jungle of Costa Rica

A night tour is something you can’t leave Costa Rica without doing!

During the night, you’ll get to explore a hidden Costa Rica. Many rainforest inhabitants are nocturnal, making the rainforest an exciting and new place after dark.

You’ll get the chance to see moths, iguanas, frogs, spiders and even snakes. Things that you often don’t see in the daytime.

Tortuguero is bursting with wildlife, making it a great place to do a night tour. Use your flashlight to find both the two and three-toed sloths!

You can book a night tour with Tortuguero 7 Hostel Tours by sending them a message on Whatsapp +50688316401. The tour lasts for around 2 hours and costs $25.

Alternatively, you can also book a night tour online for $30.

Book here: Jungle night tour for $30

#4 Go kayaking along the canals and admire the wildlife

Kayak in Tortuguero Costa Rica
Man kayaking along the river in the jungle

There are plenty of tours that you can go on in Tortuguero to see the wildlife, including a kayaking tour.

However, we’d recommend just renting your own kayak and paddling around the river by yourself. If you’ve been in Costa Rica for a while now, you’ll probably be an expert animal spotter. Stick near the shores and it won’t be hard to spot an array of birds and even monkeys.

Going by yourself allows you to be surrounded by nothing but peace. It’s something we don’t often get to experience nowadays.

You can rent the kayaks for the whole day for $8 per person. You could go out in the morning, paddle back for lunch and then head out again in the afternoon.

Kayak Tour

If you would like to join a tour to go kayaking, then you can book with Tortuguero 7 Hostel Tours for $40. All you need to do is send them a message on Whatsapp +50688316401.

New to Tortuguero? Check out this compact Tortuguero guide to find the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Tortuguero!

#5 Go hiking in Tortuguero National Park

Monkeys in Tortuguero Costa Rica
Adult and baby monkey resting on the top of a tree

If you only have time for one tour of Tortuguero National Park, we’d recommend the canoe tour that we mentioned above (#1). However, if you do have a few hours to spare, hiking through the national park is also a great way to spend your time.

Tortuguero National Park covers over 19,000 hectares of land. It’s pretty big! Within this huge expanse of land, there’s a variety of habitats such as beaches, tropical lowland rainforest, freshwater riverine and more!

There’s only one trail that takes you around the park in a big loop. It’s a beautiful mixture of the dense jungle and golden-sand beaches.

Wild beach in Tortuguero Costa Rica
Beach in Tortuguero by the Caribbean sea

Keep an eye on the trees as you may be able to spot 3 of the 4 species of monkeys from Costa Rica. Howler, Capuchin and Spider monkeys can all be seen swinging through the trees.

The trail is relatively flat and should take around 3 hours to complete the loop. Entrance to the national park is $15 per person.

PRO TIP: If it’s been raining a lot, you can rent rainboots from a number of places in town for just $1.

#6 Hike to the top of Cerro Tortuguero 

Tortuguero Hill Costa Rica
Hike to Cerro Tortuguero

Cerro Tortuguero, also known as Tortuguero hill, is an extinct volcano that boasts the title of being the highest point on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

It’s a strenuous hike, but the panoramic views of rainforest, lagoons and beaches below definitely make it all worth it.

To get to the starting point of the hike, you’ll need to take a 10-minute boat ride. We’d highly recommend hiring a guide to take you to the top as it’s a much safer option, plus you’ll get to learn about your surroundings on the way up.

Tortuguero hill is 119m high and pretty steep! The hike should take you around 2-3 hours.

#7 Learn about turtles at the Sea Turtle Conservancy Centre

Baby sea green turtle in Tortuguero Costa Rica
Baby green turtle

If you have an hour spare, or it’s raining, head down to the Sea Turtle Conservancy.

The organisation was set up in 1959, making it the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group.

In order to share their knowledge, the education centre was built in 1994. The one-room museum teaches visitors how turtles build their nest, their life cycle, migratory routes and the research that goes on.

There’s also a small ‘theatre’ where visitors can enjoy a video about Tortuguero and its history with turtles.

The volunteers there are incredibly friendly and in a small amount of time, you’ll know a huge amount about turtles.

The entrance to the centre is $5, which goes towards the turtle research. The centre is open every day from 10:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 17:00.

#8 Relax on the beach or take a walk along the shore

Tortuguero beach in Costa Rica
Dark-sand beach in Tortuguero

Running down the entire east side of the town is a stunning dark-sand beach. You’ll barely have to walk more than 200 metres from town to get to the beach!

If you have a day to spare, why not spend it sunbathing on the beach reading a book?

During turtle season, it’s really nice to walk along the beach spotting turtle tracks and nests from the night before.

The only problem with the beach in Tortuguero is that you’re advised not to go swimming in the sea due to the rip tides. It’s still fine to go in for a paddle, around knee depth.

#9 Go fishing and catch the world-famous Tarpon aka “Silver King”

Fish in Tortuguero Costa Rica
Tortuguero fishing tour

Before tourism came to Tortuguero, the village relied heavily on fishing. It’s now a popular destination for both salt and freshwater fishing.

One species of fish that’s put Tortuguero on the fishing map is the legendary ‘Silver King’ or tarpon. These can be found between January and July as they migrate inland.

Tortuguero is also home to a number of other fish including Rainbow Trout, Machaca and Mojarro.
Captain Elvin, also known as Primo, is one of the most well-known fishermen in town. His full-day rate for both river and inshore fishing is $550 for 2 people and $650 for 3 people. You can make an inquiry for a day trip on fishingbooker.com.


Our favourite places to stay in Tortuguero

Tortuguero Casa Pelican - Treating yourself

Casa Pelican boasts the perfect location in Tortuguero, only minutes from both the beach and the town. You won’t even need to go to the beach to relax as you’ll find hammocks and chairs on every balcony to chill and take in the view from.

The rooms are modern, clean and homely. The rainfall showers are also a treat. You’ll feel like you’re actually in the rainforest with that.

  • Perfect location
  • Clean and spacious rooms
  • Modern bathrooms
  • Hammocks to chill in

Double rooms start from $80 per night

Read More


Casa Turtle Bogue - Mid-Range

You can’t get much closer to the beach than at Casa Turtle Bogue. You can either relax in a hammock, or soak up the sun on Tortuguero beach. All of the rooms are clean and modern, offering everything you need. There’s also a seating area for guests to relax in and kitchen facilities./p>

The owners will do anything they can to make your stay in Tortuguero amazing, whether it be organising tours for you or sharing their love of the place with you.

  • Right on the beach
  • Clean and fresh rooms
  • Great and friendly staff
  • Air conditioning in the rooms

Double rooms between $50-$80 per night

Read More


Pura Natura - Mid-Range

Pura Natura is exactly how it’s name describes it to be - pure and natural. The whole place feels modern and fresh with its neutral and earthy colour scheme. It only opened in February 2021, so everything’s new and modern.

There’s plenty of places to relax, in their garden or on their roof terrace. Make sure to enjoy the sea views. The owners of Pura Natura, a young couple, are so incredibly kind, helpful and knowledgeable about Tortuguero.

  • Modern and fresh design
  • Close to the beach
  • Young and friendly owners
  • Relaxing spaces to chill

Double rooms between $50-$80 per night

Read More


Los Amigos Jungle Hotel Tortuguero - Budget Friendly

An added bonus to this super cheap hotel is the outdoor swimming pool. It’s perfect for cooling down in after a day of adventures.

The rooms are brightly colour, emanating the vibrant atmosphere of Tortuguero. You can also enjoy the outdoor terraces, or the shared kitchen facilities, if you decide to do some cooking on your own. Summing it up, this place is great value for money!

  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Vibrant and colourful rooms
  • Shared kitchen
  • Helpful and knowledgeable staff

Double rooms between $15-$50 per night

Read More


Was this post helpful?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Your feedback is very valueable to us

How we can improve this post?