Turtle Nesting Tours in Playa Grande Costa Rica
Experience the exhilarating natural phenomenon of sea turtles nesting
Costa Rica’s north Pacific coast in the province of Guanacaste is a haven for endangered and at-risk sea turtle populations. Here, every year, enormous and ancient sea turtles return to the beach where they were born to lay hundreds of eggs beneath the sand. The Las Baulas National Marine Park extends from Playa Langosta, where Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas is situated, north past Playa Grande. Las Baulas means “the leatherbacks” – this is the largest leatherback sea turtle nesting area on the Pacific coast of the Americas.
Our night tour gives you the rare opportunity to witness female green sea turtles and leatherbacks as they swim to shore under the moonlight, dig large, deep holes under the sand and enter a trance-like state as they lay between 100 and 150 soft-shelled eggs. The females then bury the eggs, journey back down the beach and disappear under the surface.
In Costa Rica, sea turtle nesting season extends from September to April, approximately. Our knowledgeable, bilingual nature guide keeps a close eye on the turtle nesting calendar to advise you of the best night to take this tour, when you’re likely to witness many turtles coming ashore – sometimes hundreds at a time.
Our exclusive sea turtle nesting tour leaves Cala Luna Hotel at approximately 6:50 p.m. and returns around 9:30 p.m.
Included: transportation, bilingual nature guide
What to bring: camera without flash, closed-toe shoes or sandals, insect repellent
Suited for: all ages; moderate physical condition is required as this tour requires some walking on sand
About sea turtle nesting in Guanacaste, Costa Rica
The best time to watch sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach in Costa Rica is between September and April, with most turtles coming to shore to nest in the months December and January. Biologists and sea turtle experts track factors such as the moon cycle and ocean tides to determine when turtles can be expected to swim to shore to lay eggs.
The province of Guanacaste is the best place to see giant leatherback sea turtles, as well as Olive Ridley and green sea turtles. Playa Grande, which is just a few minutes away from Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas, is part of a national park aimed at protecting these magnificent creatures’ native nesting grounds. On other beaches, locals are often allowed to dig up sea turtle eggs before they hatch. These eggs are consumed by people who believe the embryo inside is beneficial to men’s virility and fertility. Some conservation groups say the collection of sea turtle eggs is putting this endangered animal at even greater risk of extinction, while others say that on some beaches, there are so many eggs that turtles end up digging up each other’s nests to lay their own eggs. Gladly, humans are not allowed to dig up sea turtle eggs from Playa Grande, or from Playa Langosta.
Baby sea turtles hatching: an unforgettable wonder to behold
After adult female sea turtles lay their eggs under the sand, it takes around two months for the embryos to incubate in their warm nest. Soon, the babies begin escaping from their soft shells and embark on the arduous task of digging themselves up toward the surface. From here, the hatchling turtles must make their way down the beach to the rolling waves, but this part of their journey is the most treacherous: Baby sea turtles face several threats on the beach, including being eaten by dogs and birds. People sometimes try to help baby sea turtles by carrying them to the water, but the journey is important for building muscle strength in the hatchlings.
For the few that make it to the water, the times comes to begin swimming like crazy to get away from the dangerous shoreline, then the young turtles roam the waters for several years before eventually returning to the beach where they were born and, in the case of females, lay eggs.
Playa Langosta, at the foot of Cala Luna Hotel, is a great place to see hatchlings returning to the water from their sandy nests. As part of the Las Baulas National Marine Park, Playa Langosta is a protected beach where there are several turtle nests. Keep your eyes out between October and May for hatchlings scurrying down the sand to the safety of the water!