Facebook Pixel

Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

There are so many amazing places to visit in Costa Rica that it can be hard to know which to choose when you have limited time.

Nestled between low-lying farmland, dominated by banana plantations, and the rich, warm waters of the Caribbean, Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica, is 77k acres of dense tropical rainforest, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches and lagoons, all of which are home to some of the most highly endangered and most poached species of wildlife on the planet. The best known of these species gives the park its name, returning to the same beaches each year to build their nests and lay their eggs safe from various predators, including raccoons, weasels, wild dogs, birds and of course, humans. The third-most visited national park in Costa Rica, reached only by airplane or boat, attracts around 50,000 visitors a year, both in and out of the turtle nesting season.

Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by barnyz CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


The vastly beautiful Tortuguero River

Best of Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica


The Journey

Much like another of Costa Rica’s most immersive natural environments, the Osa Peninsula, there are only two ways to enter Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica; by riverboat through the jungle habitat of howling monkeys, caimans, lizards and river turtles; or by private chartered plane from San Jose, which only takes half an hour and gives amazing views of the country’s diverse landscapes from the cooler, mountainous central valley, down to the tropical lowlands of the Caribbean slope. The private flight is obviously by far the most luxurious, comfortable and least time consuming way to travel, with spectacular aerial views, but the hour and a half rainforest boat ride is a far more enchanting and inspiring entrance to this spectacular natural paradise.

We arranged to stay in one of the lodges in Tortuguero, who picked us up from our hotel in San Jose and arranged everything stage of the journey!

Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by
Dr. Matthias Ripp
CC BY 2.0


Kach took the private charter flight!

Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by eltpics CC BY-NC 2.0

I traveled by humble riverboat!

The Caribbean

If you’ve already spent some time on the Pacific coast and thought it couldn’t possible get any more relaxing, then the country’s opposite coast will give you a whole new perspective on the meaning of Pura Vida. One of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, the unique fusion of laid-back Latin love and cool Caribbean charisma creates an atmosphere unlike any other, the perfect blend of two of the world’s coolest cultures meet in an amalgamation of food, music, dance and an all-embracing passion for the good life. If you can’t be happy here, then you probably don’t want to be!


Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by smilla4 CC BY-NC 2.0

Pure Caribbean heaven


Rivers are at the heart of Toruguero National Park, they are the lifeblood of the modest communities living here and home to innumerable species of wildlife which draw visitors from around the world year round. Wildlife spotting is one of the most popular and exciting things to do in Costa Rica. On the short journey by boat from La Pavona to the village of Tortuguero, you can see freshwater turtles, caimans, green macaws, giant iguanas and three species of monkey; howlers, capuchins and the acrobatic spider monkeys.

Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by Steve @ the alligator farm CC BY-SA 2.0

Wild cayman on the riverbank

Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by
CC BY-SA 2.0

River turtle catching some rays


There is loads to do in Tortuguero National Park and Tortuguero Lodge were able to organise all kinds of trips for us.

Kayaking and boat trips along the rivers and jungle canals are the best way to see the wildlife in the park and to get a true feel for the environment. This is a habitat and a community designed with water at its core, so trying to avoid it would be missing out on the soul of Tortuguero National Park.


Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by
Shawn Harquail
CC BY-NC 2.0

Wildlife spotting with a private kayak tour

Jungle treks are possible too, but again, this is a water-world, so you’ll be a little more limited on foot than in a boat.

Simpler pleasures like chilling out to the sounds of jungle life, or diving into the sea to soak up some Caribbean Pura Vida, are some of the most relaxing things to do in Costa Rica!

Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by
Clive Varley
CC BY 2.0


Exploring the waterways

If you feel like something a little more energetic, then try climbing up to the top of Tortugero Hill, which takes around 2 hours to reach, but you’re rewarded with amazing views of the whole area.

With over 320 known species of birds which call it their home, Tortuguero National Park is one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica for birdwatchers and ornithologists. There are flocks of green macaws, six species of Kingfisher and the slaty-tailed Trogon to name only a few. Your zoom lens and notebook will be kept very busy!


Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by Jeanne Menjoulet CC BY-ND 2.0

One of many birds drying its wings

The beaches of Tortuguero National Park are the best place to see turtle nesting in Costa Rica. During turtle nesting season the park becomes flooded with tourists trying to witness any of the three types of sea turtle nesting, laying their eggs and the baby hatchlings digging out of the nest to make their way to the sea. Turtle tours are only available at night, between 8pm and midnight and cost around $20 USD. Don’t forget to visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy in Tortuguero village to learn more about the turtles themselves and the measures being taken to protect them. This is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica if you want to witness real, sustainable nature conservation in action.

Sustainable Luxury

Set alongside the river and just outside the 51,000 acre Tortuguero National Park, Tortuga Lodge and Gardens is a sustainable eco lodge in the heart of the jungle. There are 27 rooms all of which have views over the river, including 2 luxury suites and a penthouse.


Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by
Bill Wilson
CC BY 2.0

Chilling out in front of the downstairs suite

There is no air conditioning, TV or background music anywhere in the lodge to give you a totally immersive experience of the sounds and feelings of the jungle. There are several private nature trails which you can explore on your own or with a guide in the morning or the afternoon and you might even share the natural, chlorine-free pool with a giant green iguana!

Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by William WarbyCC BY 2.0


Warm welcome and cold drinks after a riverboat tour

There is a perfect level of luxury and service here, which provides comfort and relaxation, without ever crossing the line into extravagance and self-gratification. All of the staff are warm and friendly, whilst allowing you to have your own time and space to enjoy yourself. You really feel that you are here for the environment, not the other way around.

Lost in Luxury in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Photo by
Linh Nguyen

You’ll never be short of food here and the quality of the meals is incredible. All of the dishes are based around traditional Costa Rican ingredients and then given an added flare of contemporary culinary design.


It really is the little touches here that make it special, like finding that the swans you found on your bed when you arrived have turned into a sea turtle when you return from breakfast, followed by an elephant the following day!

Two Monkeys Travel - Tortugero - Tortuga Lodge Luxury

Beautiful…And the towels are nice too!

If you’ve already explored Pacific and Central Costa Rica and think you’ve seen all the country has to offer, think again; the combination of jungle waterways, Caribbean vibes and raw nature make a visit to Tortuguero National Park one of the best things to do in Costa Rica.  A true paradise like no other.

Looking for more things to do in Costa Rica? Check out How to spend 5 Awesome Days in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica!

Where next – Puerto Viejo

Note: We were invited guests by the hotel and all opinions and text are all mine!

SM Monkey Section Dividers

Are you on Pinterest? Pin these!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER:Many of the articles on Two Monkeys Travel Group are guest posts by a number of Approved Contributors and are hosted by Two Monkeys Travel Group. Approved Contributors control their own work and post freely to our site. This includes all text and images that they use within their own work. All contributors are instructed to follow internationally recognised copyright and intellectual property guidelines. Two Monkeys Travel Group takes its own responsibilities very seriously, so if you feel that any part of this work is abusive in any way, please send us an email so that we can investigate - [email protected]

DISCLOSURE: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links. So when you make a purchase we sometimes make a small commission, at no extra cost to you. The cost to you remains the same, sometimes even cheaper if we have negotiated a special deal for our readers.We use all of the companies we have listed here and that’s why they are in this list, but of course we need to keep Two Monkeys Travel Group running as well as it can, which is exactly what you’re helping with if you do decide to buy or book something through an affiliate link! If you have any more questions about the companies we use or any other companies you’re looking at, just email us and we’ll be happy to help.Please see our full disclaimer page for more information.

Written by Kach Umandap

Founder of Two Monkeys Travel Group. Since 2013, Kach has visited all the 7 continents (including Antarctica) and 151 countries using her Philippines Passport. In 2016, she bought a sailboat and went on sailing adventures with her two cats - Captain Ahab & Little Zissou in the Caribbean for 2 years. She now lives in Herceg Novi, Montenegro where she's enjoying her expat life and living on a gorgeous Stonehouse. She writes about her experiences traveling as a Filipina traveler with a PHL Passport. Also tips on backpacking trips, luxury hotel experiences, product reviews, sailing & adventure travel.