Take advantage of Costa Rica’s eco-adventures. You can watch sea turtles nest on a moonless beach, admire scarlet macaws in the rainforest, hike through a mist-shrouded cloud forest, bike at the base of a volcano, and soak in natural hot springs. You might also see howler monkeys, sloths, flocks of parakeets and crocodiles.
Watch Sea Turtles Nest on the Caribbean Coast: Along Tortuguero National Park’s 14 miles of beaches, sea turtle species nest from March through October. The leatherbacks, the largest with carapaces reaching up to 7-feet across, tend to arrive in March and stay through early June. The Atlantic Green sea turtles appear June through October and the hawksbills arrive July through September. The sea turtles come ashore on nearly moonless nights. At first, you may only hear the turtle’s labored breath and the scratchy sound of her flippers as she pulls herself to a spot above high tide level. Satisfied with her site, she painstakingly whips the sand out from under her with her back flippers, then, drops scores of eggs before methodically tossing the dirt back into the nest with her front flippers. Afterward, she slowly lumbers down the beach to disappear into the waves. It’s a mesmerizing site. Tickets and guides are required. Tortuga Lodge can obtain both and offers comfortable accommodations.
Bike and Soak Near a Volcano: When Arenal, one of Costa Rica’s most active volcanoes, erupts, watch the red-hot lava snake down the slopes from a safe distance. The scene is most dramatic at night. When the volcano remains dormant, bike the gravel and dirt roads ringing its base. Then soothe your aching muscles with a soak in the area’s naturally heated mineral springs. Tabacón Resort, a hotel and spa, has pools open to day guests as well as lodgers.
Hike through a cloud forest: At Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve a 25,000-acre reserve in northwestern Costa Rica, the winds create clouds that envelop the mountain peaks. You hike through mist-shrouded woods past lush ferns, mosses, vines, and trees, from whose limbs dangle sprays of orchids. The forest shelters more than 400 species of birds, hundreds of varieties of orchids, and such exotic wildlife as jaguars, ocelots, and quetzals, although these are rarely encountered. Since Monteverde often limits the number of people allowed in the reserve at one time, be sure to book ahead for a guide.
Admire Scarlet Macaws: Carara National Park is known for its scarlet macaws. Bold red, brilliantly feathered, and long-tailed, the macaws are gorgeous. The park’s trails are lined with ferns, massive trees, and tall banyans with intricately fingered roots and thick, leafy branches that form a dense, green canopy.
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