Tortuguero National Park

From pre-Columbian natives, early explorers and pirates, to the first settlers; all had the turtle as the main consumer product, through their meat and eggs and even their shells that were also used for making complementary products.

Turtle Bogue or Boca Tortuga, as Tortuguero was previously known, was settled in the early twentieth century, near the 20s, by Afro-Caribbean families from Limon and Parismina, along with some migrants who came from Barra del Colorado and Nicaragua.

These migrations occurred due to two main reasons:

1. Be part of the economic benefit generated by the worldwide golden age of the exploitation of precious woods, where Tortuguero and its vast forests offered lots of high-quality timber, such as Almond (Almendro) or Cativo and were relatively easy to be transported through the canals network.

2. Take advantage of the expansion of the agricultural frontier to establish new land and plantations, especially coconut and mango.

The Turtle Bogue consisted of a few families distributed in a small strip of land and sawmill where all the wood that was being removed from the forests of Tortuguero was processed.


In the 50s an event happened that changes the history at Turtle Bogue. A zoologist at the University of Florida, Dr. Archie Carr was interested in the behavior of sea turtles, therefore he searched at the Caribbean and Central American countries the ideal site for making his studies.

Thus way he came to Tortuguero, attracted by rumors of a beach filled with green turtles and completely wild conditions, founding the CCC (Caribbean Conservation Corporation). From his studies began to be evident the ecological importance of the whole plain of Tortuguero, not only for being the main area of spawning of sea turtles in the Latin American Caribbean but also by the complexity of ecosystems harboring and lot species that inhabit them.

The growing ecological information joined the conservationist trend of the country in the 70s, triggering the declaration of Tortuguero National Park on September 24, 1970 by Executive Decree 1235-A, published in La Gaceta No. 213, which marks its territorial limits and general rules governing its management. On November 3, 1975 by Republic Act No. 5680, its establishment and management rules were reaffirmed. Since the TNP was established its limits have been modified three times by Executive Decrees (1980, 1995 and 1998). Its extension has gone from 64,701.45 to 76,937 hectares. Of these 50,284 are marine and 26,653 are terrestrial.

The declaration as a National Park and the fame of sea turtles caused by the early mid-80s the travelers were coming to the area, at that time they were adventurers looking to explore new horizons. Tortuguero gradually became a town living from tourism activities, where very few of its inhabitants eat turtle and rather they help in the conservation of sea turtles and their ecosystem.

  • Dock
  • Drinking water
  • Sanitation services (availability of health services for people with different abilities)
  • Self-informative kiosk
  • Tourism services such as food, accommodation, guides, transportation, telephone, internet and other that are offered privately in the

Sea turtle watching program:
This eco-tourism management tool allows to manage properly the high beach visitation in sea turtles nesting season. Through this program Tortuguero National Park is allied with a local organization to establish turtle crawlers: highly trained people who are the only ones that, under high ecological measures, detect turtles when they are going out from the sea. This prevents the large number of visitors walk on the beach and by ignorance scare away the turtles. On the contrary, visitors will be located in waiting bases to receive valuable information about the turtle until the turtle is in a process of spawning that could be observed in proper way. The turtle nesting season runs from June to October. It is important to verify the opening of the season to confirm the presence of turtles because it is possible that the ecological dynamics change.

El Jaguar terrestrial trail:
This linear trail runs 1.55 miles (2.5 km) parallel to the beach of Tortuguero National Park and is the path used in turtle season. It is clearly demarcated with entrances to the beach every 328 feet (100 meters) and numbered from 37 to 60. During spawning season you can observe turtle footprints and nests. You can find animals like hawks, monkeys, peacocks and lots of dragonflies and butterflies.

Aquatic trails:

Travel by canoe, kayak and electric motor:

• Caño Chiquero- Mora Trail: This 1.42 miles (2.3 km) tour is exclusive
to non-polluting small boats. Dense and high vegetation, occasionally there you can see the greyheaded tayra (tolomuco). Near the 6233 feet (1900 meters) the path is divided and that is the reason it is known as Caño Chiquero and Caño Mora.

Motor boats tour:

• Río Tortuguero Trail: This route of 2.67 Miles (4.3 km) is the gateway to TNP canals sector. There it is possible to observe variety of water birds, amphibians and reptiles, as well as lots of poponjoche trees, striking by its large flowers and fruits.

• Caño Harold Trail: 2.17 miles (3.5 km) tour across a wide canal in calm waters which facilitates the observation of animals. Secondary forest predominates and you may even see some coconut and cocoa. There are plenty of reptiles such as turtles and alligators.

• Caño Palma Trail: This 3016 miles (5.1 km) canal is the only one that does not have entrance through Laguna Tortuguero but by Laguna Penitencia, located next to the Cerro Tortuguero in Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge. It is a narrow canal with dense vegetation where waterfowl abound.


Open Daily

– 6am – 12pm
– 1pm – 4pm


• National and resident adults: ¢1.000
• National and resident children: ¢500
• Foreign non-resident adults: $15
• Foreign non-resident children: $5

• Currencies: Dollars ($) and Colones (¢ – Costarican Colons).
• Cash: Bills in good condition, $ 100 and ¢ 50,000 bills are not accepted.
• DATAFONO: all credit / debit cards are accepted, in case of being foreign ensure to report to your bank you are leaving your country.

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