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Every year, Costa Rica attracts hordes of travellers interested in sea turtle volunteering – and with good reason – this famous Central American country is blessed with numerous sea turtle nesting beaches.
Along both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, travellers can join eco-adventure to aid four different species of sea turtle – Leatherback, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley & Green sea turtles.
Here at SEEtheWILD, we’re lucky to work with amazing tour operators, tour guides and organizations who consistently put the well-being of sea turtles first, ensuring that there is protection of all species of sea turtles and follow important tourism guidelines on their trips.
If you’re interested in booking a Sea Turtle Tour in Costa Rica, reach out to one of our partners and they will gladly assist you.
We have four different species of sea turtles that you may see on our Costa Rica tours. They are Leatherback, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley & Green sea turtles.
The Leatherback sea turtle, also known as the lute turtle or leathery turtle, is the largest of all living turtles on the planet. It’s also the earth’s fourth-heaviest modern reptile.
The Leatherback sea turtle can easily be distinguished from other sea turtles with its lack of bony shell, hence the name, Leatherback. Its carapace is covered by skin and oily flesh.
The Hawksbill sea turtle is currently critically endangered. Its appearance is very similar to other marine turtles, with its flattened body shape, sharply curved beak, protective carapace, flipper-like limbs which is ideal for swimming long distances in the open ocean.
The shell of the Hawksbill sea turtle changes colour slightly depending on the water temperature. It spends most of its life in shallow lagoons and coral reefs, however, they are often seen traversing long distances in the open ocean.
The Olive Ridley sea turtle, also known as the Pacific Ridley sea turtle, is the smallest and most common sea turtle on the planet. The Olive Ridley sea turtle can be found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, where the water is warmer and tropical. They can also be found in the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Olive Ridley sea turtles are famously known for its special mass nesting ability called arribada, which sees thousands of female sea turtles come together on the same beach to lay their eggs.
The Green sea turtle is listed as endangered by the IUCN and CITES and is protected from exploitation in most countries. It can be found in most tropical and subtropical seas across the planet, with big populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Also known as the green turtle, black sea turtle or Pacific green turtle, its name is derived from green fat situated underneath its large, teardrop-shaped carapace, which is generally coloured between olive and black.
Green sea turtles can generally be found in shallow lagoons, feeding mainly on different species of seagrass. By biting the tips off the blades of sea grass, Green sea turtles help to keep it healthy.
Green sea turtles travel long distances between its feeding grounds and hatching beaches. Many islands around the world are often given the name ‘Turtle Island’ due to the sheer number of Green sea turtles who choose to nest on its secret beaches.
This handy guide will give you a good idea of the best time to go on sea turtle tours in Costa Rica, based on the nesting and hatching seasons of these beautiful sea creatures.
Nesting season: October to March in the Pacific. February to July in the Caribbean.
Hatching season: December to May in the Pacific. April to September in the Caribbean.
Nesting season: May to March in the Pacific. May to August in the Caribbean.
Hatching season: All year round between the Pacific & the Caribbean.
Nesting season: All year round in the Pacific, with peak season being between July & December.
Hatching season: All year round in the Pacific, with peak season falling between September to February.
Nesting season: All year round in the Pacific, with peak season falling between October to March. In the Caribbean, it stretches from June to November.
Hatching season: Peak hatching season in the Pacific runs between December & April. In the Caribbean, it runs from August to December.