• Photo: Jarno Gonzalez Zarraonandia / Shutterstock

Plan Your Tortuguero and the Caribbean Coast Vacation

The tourist brochures tout the country's Caribbean coast as "the other Costa Rica." Everything about this part of Costa Rica seems different: different culture, different history, different climate, and different activities. Expect different prices, too. Your travel dollar goes further here than elsewhere in the country. This region was long ago discovered by European adventure seekers—you're quite likely to hear Dutch, German, and Italian spoken by the visitors here—but is much less known in North American circles.

The ethnic mix differs markedly here, as it does all along the Caribbean coast of Central America. The region was first settled by the British, and then, throughout the 19th century, by the descendants of Afro-Caribbean slaves who came to work on the banana plantations and construct the Atlantic railroad. That makes the Caribbean coast the best place in the country to find English speakers, although the language is disappearing as Spanish takes over.

It is rainier here than in other parts of Costa Rica, and the rain is distributed pretty evenly year-round without a distinct dry season—though October (when the rest of Costa Rica is getting deluged with rain) is the driest month. The region will never draw the typical fun-in-the-sun crowd that frequents the drier Pacific coast, but it does offer a year-round forested lushness and just as many activities at a more reasonable price.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Dolphin-watching Bottlenose, tucuxi, and Atlantic spotted dolphins ply the southern Caribbean coast.
  2. Food and flavors Leave gallo pinto (rice and beans) behind in favor of mouthwatering rondón (meat or fish stew) or caribeño (Caribbean) rice and beans, stewed in coconut milk.
  3. Music Mix reggae and calypso with your salsa. Rhythms waft in from the far-off Caribbean islands; and homegrown musicians are making names for themselves, too.
  4. Sportfishing World-class tarpon and snook attract serious anglers to the shores off Tortuguero National Park.
  5. Turtles People from around the world flock to the northern Caribbean for the annual nesting of four sea turtle species.

When To Go

When to Go

High Season: February to April Climate is the Caribbean's bugaboo and will forever prevent it from becoming the same high-powered tourist...

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