Exploring Tortuguero & Poas Volcano

Amazingly, 25% of Costa Rica’s land area is covered in protected jungle, and it’s known as a wildlife holiday destination with incredible biodiversity, variety of animals, birds and nature. It also generates 98% of its energy through renewable sources and has a real focus on sustainable eco-tourism.

Kicking off the next location on my tour of Costa Rica is beautiful Tortuguero – a village on the country’s Caribbean coast. Part of Tortuguero National Park, it’s close to the rainforest, black beaches and is a haven for turtle nesting. Tortuguero is about a 3 hour drive from the capital city, San Jose, and requires road and boat travel to reach much of the accommodation in the area.

We visited Tortuguero for 3 nights, with a 1 night stop at Poas Volcano en-route. You can combine this visit with a longer holiday exploring more of the country, including Arenal National Park, La Fortuna, Manuel Antonio National Park and the Osa Peninsula.

Poas Volcano

Poas Volcano is an active volcano, around a 1 hour drive from San Jose, and there are some lovely hotels in the area, and we chose the Poas Volcano Lodge as our base.

The next day we chose to explore the volcano, national park and small museum on the site. You can climb or be driven up the volcano, which requires no walking effort. The crater itself is impressive and on a clear day it’s a great view of the lava flow and bubbling steam. We learned from the small volcano museum on site that yellow in the rocks indicates sulphur and red indicates iron.

Poas Volcano crater

Before leaving for Tortuguero, we decided to walk a nature trail at our lodge known as a Quetzal Trail. Quetzals are brightly coloured, rare birds and at many of the lodges in the area, including at Poas Volcano Lodge, there are lovely nature walks in the grounds of the hotel to try and spot some! We walked the Quetzal trail, a 5km walk which took us through an array of mix of broken bridges, lack of signposts, steep drops, rough terrain, dairy farmland and primitive forest. The ground and forest were sodden with moss and orchids were growing freely. We didn’t see any quetzals!

Following the trail

Interestingly, the lodge had been destroyed by a volcanic eruption previously and had been rebuilt almost entirely in wood which had been cut down for nearby highways!


After a long 3 hour drive to the coast, we had to board a boat to reach our accommodation, Pachira Lodge. It was a really exciting experience following the canals winding through dense, verdant, wet rainforest which reaches right to the water’s edge.

Boat transfer

During the journey to the Lodge we even spotted a crocodile!

Mr Crocodile!

Whilst staying at the lodge, we then spent the next few days going on various nature walks and nature boat trips. We spotted a tiger heron, a toucan, a sloth, spider monkeys, grey-green iguanas, a caiman, vultures, vipers, crabs, a ‘lacy’ black heron and various other birds – by the end we felt immersed in Costa Rica’s amazing biodiversity.

The wonderful sloth we saw

We also visited the village of Tortuguero, which is very colourful and is famous for being where turtles come to nest. We did not see any turtles as it was not the nesting or hatching season but it was interesting to walk along the Caribbean beach where the turtles lay their eggs. The sea at Tortuguero is prone to dangerous undercurrents and tourists are strongly recommended not to swim in the waters which are very dangerous. The sand was black, coloured by volcanic rock.

Tortuguero Black Beach

Tortuguero is also a remote but is a popular destination for outdoor sports. There is a small airport, internal flights being a sensible and easy way to fly from one part of the country to another, and we recommend flying from this airport if you are then heading on to another area of Costa Rica.

This concluded our time on this leg of the journey in Costa Rica. But if you have longer in this wonderful country please also check out my posts on:

  • ArenalLa Fortuna, Arenal National Park and Nayara Springs hotel review
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Osa Peninsula

Thanks for stopping by and reading! I hope you found this insight in to a small part of Costa Rica interesting, especially if you’re planning a trip to this incredible country. Stay safe and happy travelling everyone!

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