Costa Rica is a great destination if you want to watch sea turtles nesting or hatching. This is definitely a lifetime experience, one of those things you must do at least once in your life; although you will never get tired of it, no matter how many times you witness this wonder of nature. Costa Rica presents a combination of factors that play in your favor for turtle watching: it has a vast coastline both on the Pacific and the Caribbean side and it has 5 species of the 7 that exist in the planet. For the traveler, this means that there are many seasons, species and beaches that can be chosen to cross this milestone from your ‘must-do things before I die’ list.
Elemento Natural wants to give you a few tips and tricks to make this happen for you: we know it is not easy for a traveler and an explorer to include all the things they want to do, in a time-constrained itinerary, so with these pointers you will improve your chances to watch sea turtles in Costa Rica.
1. Choose your destination and season accordingly: remember there are several species that nest in our beaches, so you need to know where, when and who! Meaning what beach you will visit so you can figure out lodging, tour and accommodations; what is the right season for nesting and/or for hatchings; and what species you will have the opportunity to see. Visit our blog for more information on species, nesting areas and seasons!
2. It is really important that you book a tour, since most of the nesting beaches are patrolled by local guides or volunteers working for a Non-Profit, the National Parks, etc. So you can’t really go by yourself. Plus you need to keep in mind that all sea turtle species are endangered, so it is a sensitive activity that needs to be regulated.
3. Now you have booked a trip to a turtle nesting beach at the right time, and a guided tour to go look for them. So you need to dress for the occasion, and plan accordingly: wear long dark pants and long sleeve dark shirt. Dark is necessary to avoid any colors that might distract or interrupt the arrival of the turtle to the nesting site; and long pants and shirt is necessary because there are usually mosquitoes and it is not recommended to use insect repellent because the strong odor might also interfere with the turtle. Flashlights are not allowed, and if light is needed your guide will have a red light lamp or flashlight.
4. Now, you are ready to go turtle watching: manage your expectations and anxiety, remember this is a natural event and that sea turtles are endangered, so it might happen that during your time at the beach, no turtles will arrive. Just as possible as the chance that you will see more than one, or that you will see one when you just get to the beach, or when you are about to leave, you finally see one coming out of the ocean!
So, we hope this information will help you plan your sea turtle watching experience in Costa Rica, and that when you go you have the great opportunity to witness the amazing natural phenomenon!