Exploring Tortuguero (via Poas Volcano)

Amazingly, 25% of Costa Rica’s land area is covered in protected jungle, and it generates 98% of its energy through renewable sources, with a real focus on sustainable eco-tourism. This crazy biodiversity and eco-focus was evident in the next stop on our tour of Costa Rica, Tortuguero.

Tortuguero is 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. There are some beautiful 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. During the journey to the Lodge we even spotted a crocodile! After that adventure we were ready for a drink or three!

Boat transfer

Mr Crocodile on the banks as our boat glided by!

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, 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. And of course, the sloth was the absolute highlight ❤

The wonderful sloth we saw

We also visited Tortuguero Beach, which is famous for being where turtles come to nest in July and August. As we visited in November, we didn’t 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 on our visit
And the beach in turtle season in July and August (courtesy of hotel website, not seen on our visit)

Tortuguero village is also small and colourful, being a remote but 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:

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!


  1. The sloth is just amazing, Hannah! I love all of your photos, but he is the jewel. Tortuguero National Park would be a dream for us because it has a little bit of everything – including the volcano. Great post. If Mike would let me, I would book a trip today. Have a nice weekend.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Lots of wildlife and beautiful greenery to be seen in Costa Rica! That crocodile is so big: were you that close to it?? Sounds like a wonderful time you had, and all the better that you went somewhere warm to escape the cold of England!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Poas Volcano with its bubbling, sulphuric, green glory of the volcanic lake that fills the gigantic crater is a truly incredible geological marvel. I love your sloth and crocodile photos too; there’s something special about seeing wild animals up close. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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  4. Sloths for the win! I just love these gentle creatures. Wonderful tour of this area- walking through the jungle, boat rides with crocodiles, and an incredible array of animals to see. Adding it my every growing list of notes for Costa Rica 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They really do, and I must admit to my Dad being the genius behind the sloth shot – he is threatening to charge me royalties so feel I should credit him hehe. I really hope you make it to CR one day, there’s so much to see in this incredible country! Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tortuguero sounds wonderful…rainforests, black beaches, volcano crater, nature walks, river boat, turtle beach…wow!!! Of course, anywhere there are Sloths, it must be a nice, laid-back place to chill and enjoy the environment! Thanks for sharing another amazing travel experience, Hannah 🙂

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  6. I drove past Poas volcano when I was in Costa Rica, but didn’t get a chance to stop off and take a look around, so it’s great to get a glimpse of the crater. It’s spectacular, if a little menacing with the rising steam. And I love your photo of the sloth, it’s so adorable 🙂

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  7. Last night we started watching the newly released travel show called The Reluctant Traveler with American actor Eugene Levy. In episode 2 he went to Costa Rica and stayed in Nayara Tented Camp and I was like, “I think Traveling Han stayed there!” Sure enough – same place. I went back to your blog post and saw that you went out on that hanging bridge. They could barely get Eugene Levy out there due to his fear of heights. Cool, huh?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The rainforests are spectacular! I enjoyed your photos of the lush world and wildlife. I lived in Guatemala for 3 years and traveled around Central America and never saw the classic male quetzal with the long tail feathers. I did see a female once.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. These trails you enjoyed while in Costa Rica … they are all stunning! And you saw so many wild animals – love the monkeys and lazy sloth. You certainly made Costa Rica sound like a great travel destination in your posts – thanks for sharing it with us!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Wow, this seems absolutely amazing, I’d love to see an actual volcano up close, and I didn’t know there were also “black sand beaches” there! The sloth you saw is so cuuute!

    Liked by 1 person

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