Tortuguero in Costa Rica is a special place. All year round you can see turtles lay their eggs on the beaches of this national park (if you are lucky). It is a natural phenomenon that Tortuguero National Park, at the Caribbean side of the country, is well-known for.
But it is not just amazing to see the laying of the eggs, the hatching is just as impressive. As different species lay their eggs in Tortuguero, you have an extra chance to see one of the two stages.
These days conservationists relocate the eggs to make sure they are hatched in a protected environment, but you can still see the tiny hatchlings clamber out of the eggs and make their way through the sand to the surface, to get to the sea as quickly as they can.
You can explore during the day on your own accord, but you can only go out with a guide at night, to ensure the safety of the animals.
You can encounter two different species: the leatherback turtle, which is the largest turtle on earth and the green turtle. The latter is more famous as you can see this turtle during snorkelling tours.
A guided tour is the best way to go as the guide knows the best places, but also a guide can make sure you watch turtles lay eggs without disturbing them. This is crucial as turtles are very susceptible to disturbance. And for sure you do not want to disturb nature in such a delicate process.
You can also go out yourself during the day and go on a guided tour at night. Guided tours have to abide by certain rules to protect the animals. For example, you may not block the road between the turtle and the sea. Or take photos with a flashlight. Or blind the animals with your flashlight.
Protection of the young turtles
Nowadays many eggs are dug up and hatched under safe conditions. After which the young turtles are released back into the ocean. Nevertheless, it is still possible to see the striking little creatures crawl out of the egg under their own strength, climb through the sand to the surface and then go into the water as quickly as possible.
Best time to see turtles lay eggs in Tortuguero:
You can see turtles almost all year round on the beaches of this nature reserve. With a bit of luck as you are dealing with wild animals. Sometimes you will see hundreds of turtles crawl up the beach here and sometimes none in a day.
The peak season is during the rainy season. Ask about the conditions on the spot.
January: nothing (or little)
February: nothing (or little)
March: leather turtle laying eggs
April: leather turtle laying eggs
May: leather turtle lay eggs and the first eggs hatch
June: end of the turtle laying eggs, beginning laying eggs of the soup turtle and young turtles
July: turtle laying eggs and babies
August: turtle laying eggs and babies
September: young turtles walking to the sea
October: young turtles that walk to the sea
November: nothing (or little)
December: nothing (or little)
More information: www.acto.go.cr