Caribbean Coast Places

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Tortuguero

Turtle-Watching

If you want to watch the deshove (egg laying), contact your hotel or the parks office to hire a certified local guide, required on turtle-watching excursions. The Turtle Scout Program, affiliated with the Sea Turtle Conservancy, maintains a network of knowledgeable guides and has cut out a route of less-obtrusive trails that minimize long walks on the beach, all to the benefit of the turtles themselves. Note that you won't be allowed to use a camera—flash or nonflash—on the beach, and only your guide is permitted to use a flashlight (and that must be covered with red plastic), because lights can deter the turtles from nesting. Wear dark clothing if you can and avoid loud talking. Smoking is prohibited on the tours. A few unscrupulous locals will offer to take you on a turtle-watching tour outside the allowed February-through-November season, disturbing sensitive nesting sites in the process. If it's not the season, don't go on a turtle excursion. As the signs around town admonish: "Don't become another predator."

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