Two Days in Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Updated: Feb 21
There was a time a few years ago when our family (and especially Makai) had a few months full of really fun adventures and activities. We had a chance to go backstage at the Ky-Mani Marley concert with the amazing Jessy Chick, and we took a trip to the Bribri waterfall. All of the adventures were super fun but one of the highlights was our trip to Tortuguero, Costa Rica with Exploradores Outdoors Adventure Company. A good friend of our family was awarded a trip to Tortuguero but had been there quite a few times so he decided to give the opportunity to us. So we each packed a small bag for our two-day adventure!
We woke up before sunrise so we did not miss the shuttle which was set to arrive at 5:30am. Luckily Makai has always been excited about traveling and new adventures, so he woke up easier than we thought and we waited for the shuttle to arrive. The shuttle arrived and we sleepily climbed on board and continued to pick up the other guests that were also headed on the tour. Exploradores offers white water rafting, snorkeling, and other adventure packages but their main hub where everyone meets is in Siquirres, Costa Rica which is about one and a half hours away from Puerto Viejo. So we all got a little rest until we reached Siquirres where they offered everyone a hearty breakfast to get some fuel for whichever adventure you were heading to. After filling up on rice and beans and fresh fruit our name was called and we loaded onto the next minibus heading to Tortuguero.
We had not done any research about the trip so every turn was a surprise to us. We headed down some bumpy dirt roads with our guide for the next two days. She was full of energy and very informative along the way, explaining most things in both English and Spanish. Both the guide and the driver kept a close watch and every time we would pass something interesting like a cool plant, animal, or point of interest we would stop so that everyone would get a good look as they taught us about them.
Just as the bumpy roads were starting to get a bit much for our heads, we pulled up to a riverbed where they let us out to get some snacks at a little mini-market and go to the bathroom before loading our belongings onto a small covered boat for the next part of the journey.
As we headed down the river it was a pleasantly smooth ride in comparison to the bumpy roads. So with the wind in our faces, we headed towards our destination. The guides remained very informative about the ecosystem that we were traveling through and pointed out plants and birds and even caimans and crocodiles!
It was truly amazing being so close to these amazing creatures, but we also held Makai very close because we would not like to see what would happen if anyone went overboard. After seeing and learning many amazing things, we arrived at the dock of the resort where we would be staying for the night. After getting checked in and finding our way around the room, there was not much time for rest before we met the group for the scheduled lunch. We ate another delicious locally-based meal and had just enough time to freshen up and head back to the boat to head into the small town of Tortuguero, where we were taken on a tour and taught even more interesting information about the history of the area and the conservation of the different kinds of sea turtles. They gave an option of purchasing a night tour where you are more likely to see the sea turtles, since that is the main time that they come ashore to lay their eggs. Being that Makai was still pretty young and we were all exhausted from the long day, we turned down the night tour.
We were given some time to wander around the small town and explore a bit. Makai thought that it would be a fun game to take off running as fast as he could until he got so far away that we were starting to lose sight of him! As our hearts raced and we streaked down the street trying to keep him within eyesight, one of the couples from our tour was coming from the opposite direction and noticed what had happened and caught him for us before he got too far away. We decided to stop in a small cafe and get something to drink and a snack while we tried to calm down from a parent's potential worst nightmare, before heading back to the boat to head to the resort to get ready for dinner. As we arrived at the dock, thinking that we were right on time, the guide already had everyone on the boat and told us to hurry because there was an injured sea turtle that had been captured from poachers that needed help!
We jumped on the boat and sped off, arriving at another landing where we all disembarked the boat, and ran towards whatever was happening. With burning lungs and pulsing legs (especially after carrying a small child with us), we arrived at a clearing just in time to help some of the local volunteers carry the newly-saved sea turtle to the sand and watch it return to its home in the ocean. What an amazing experience!
Feeling very content with our day, we returned to the resort with just enough time to freshen up a bit and head to dinner. We had another great meal where they had a local man playing Calypso music and getting everyone involved and ensuring we had a pleasantly festive meal. We returned to our home for the night and allowed the sounds of nature to lull us to sleep. Fortunately, we already lived close to the jungle in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, so the sounds of nature were not foreign and did not disrupt our rest.
We woke up in the morning and ate another traditional breakfast and saw a baby boa snuggled up in one of the plants next to the patio. One more nice surprise before we packed up to head back home. Some of the people had chosen the three-day package, which we would suggest if you would like a little time to relax and explore the area a bit more. Because even though we had an amazing trip, we were exhausted. The trip back was just as scenic and informative and everyone seemed very content when the tour had ended. We will probably do the tour again now that Makai is a few years older and will probably retain more of the information. So if you are looking for a great Costa Rican family adventure, check out Exploradores Outdoor Adventures.