This misty, green coastal park sits on a broad floodplain parted by a jigsaw of canals. Referred to as the ‘mini-Amazon,’ Parque Nacional Tortuguero is a place of intense biodiversity that includes more than 400 bird species, 60 known species of frog, 30 species of freshwater fish and three monkey species, as well as the threatened West Indian manatee. Caimans and crocodiles can be seen lounging on riverbanks, while freshwater turtles bask on logs.
More than 150,000 visitors a year come to boat the canals and see the wildlife, particularly to watch turtles lay eggs. This is the most important Caribbean breeding site of the green sea turtle, 40,000 of which arrive every season to nest. Of the eight species of marine turtle in the world, six nest in Costa Rica, and four nest in Tortuguero. Various volunteer organizations address the problem of poaching with vigilant turtle patrols.
Park headquarters is at Cuatro Esquinas, just south of Tortuguero village.
Strong currents make the beaches unsuitable for swimming.