Turtle watching Playa Grande - Marino Las Baulas
The season to spot leatherback turtles or hawksbill sea turtles in the night starts in October and last until March. Best within two hours before and after high tide.
You may see hatchlings until May.
It is typically hot and dry on the north pacific coast even in the rainy season.
Dry season: December to April. Maximum temperatures are between 31° C / 88° F in December and 36° C / 96° F in April.
Rainy season: From late May to November. Brief showers are more likely in the afternoon and night. Most rainfall in June, September and October. Maximum temp more than 30° C / 86° F
Minimum temp is more than 20° C / 68° F for the whole year.
The Marino Las Baulas National Park was created in 1990 to protect the endangered leatherback turtles eggs from poachers. Hundreds of female leatherbacks come ashore each year to lay their eggs. It is one of the most important nesting sites of Costa Rica.
To observe turtles, you need to book a guided tour. The ranger let you know at what time you should be at the turtle protection center in the night. To minimize your impact, you are guided in a small group by a ranger. We were very lucky and observed an approximately 450 kg heavy and 2 m long leatherback turtle laying eggs. At this night arrived a second turtle as well. The next morning, we saw a volunteer of the National Park digging for eggs in the hatchery to protect them for poachers.
The white sand beaches are incredible beautiful. The dry tropical forests are home to are huge variety of wildlife and more than 170 bird species. Several white throated magpie-jays observed us while having lunch.
Facts about leatherback turtles:
They are the largest sea turtle on earth but unfortunately vulnerable and even endangered in the US. They can be up to 2.4 m / almost 8 feet long and weigh up to 900 kg / almost 2000 lbs. They are in existence for more than 150 million years and survived the extinction of the dinosaurs. Their preferred diet is jellyfish. They can be found almost everywhere in the open ocean due to their ability to tolerate cold water. For mating and nesting season they migrate to tropical and subtropical coastal regions.
Each night only a limited number of visitors are allowed to observe a turtle coming ashore. It's essential to book a guided tour at the Las Baulas ranger station in advance to take part. We asked at our accommodation if they can arrange the booking for us.