Staying in Tortuguero
You’ll find the beautiful and secluded region of Tortuguero on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast. What makes the area so special is its remoteness and unique environment. There are no roads in Tortuguero, just narrow canals, a stretch of coastline, and dense jungle greenery. Getting to your accommodation will inevitably require a boat transfer, making a stay here all the more fun and scenic.
Many travelers make their way to Tortuguero for the famed Tortuguero National Park, known for its wildlife, including an important nesting ground for sea turtles. Some of the best things to do in Tortuguero include hiking and boating in the national park, watching the turtles nest or hatch (seasonal), and exploring cultural hot spots, like the village of Tortuguero Town.
When choosing the right place to stay in the area, it’s a good idea to consider location, food, and included tours. Nearly all hotel packages contain excursions to the national park, a guided visit to Tortuguero Town, and a nature walk, but some accommodations don’t organize all three. For boutique hotels, kimkim recommends the following properties.
Tortuga Lodge & Gardens
Although a remote area, you can still get a bit of upscale luxury with Tortuga Lodge & Gardens. Set between two lagoons, the property features just 29 rooms (some with air conditioning) lining the shores and grounds, including a private nature reserve that sprawls over 70 acres. As you near Tortuga Lodge, you can’t miss the colorful, Victorian-style, two-story room blocks with balconies and wraparound porches.
You’ll have your choice of standard rooms, suites, and an exclusive villa. Standard rooms and suites sit on the river’s edge, and all units have pillow-top beds, private patios or balconies, views of the lagoon, and screened windows (so you can enjoy the Caribbean breeze and sounds of the jungle). If you choose the standalone villa, you’ll have a private entrance, waterfront terrace, and plunge pool all to yourself.
The main highlight of the lodge is its fantastic Green Turtle Restaurant, an open-air, fine-dining eatery overlooking the river, and serving modern Costa Rican Caribbean dishes via exclusive chefs. So although you’re in the middle of the remote jungle, your tastebuds can still delight in local ingredients producing elevated versions of traditional Costa Rican, Caribbean, and African dishes. Most accommodations in the area serve standard buffets, so this exceptional restaurant (along with the property’s wine cellar) is a unique amenity.
Tortuga uses local producers to source about 50% of its food, so you know you’re eating and drinking well. You can even request a cooking class with the chef to learn more about the Caribbean cooking style in the area. Other lodge highlights include an all-day coffee station, 70 acres of wilderness with outdoor walking paths, and an outdoor pool. Learn more
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Manatus Hotel is on the peninsula between the Tortuguero’s two lagoons. A tranquil experience, Manatus only has 12 units, each within clusters of four cabins sitting in the forest and back from the water’s edge. Instead of wooden huts or room blocks, the hotel has quaint cabin-like houses with modern and comfortable amenities. Enjoy wooden floors, beds, decor, and high-beamed ceilings. A perk for some, the entire property is air-conditioned (so keep in mind that you can’t open the windows for that Caribbean breeze) using an efficient cooling system.
Although the rooms aren’t waterfront and don’t offer lagoon views, you can still enjoy the beautiful canal from common areas, like the outdoor swimming pool and open-air restaurant, Ara Macaw. The restaurant cooks meals a la carte rather than just serving a buffet, which is unique to the area. The menu features Afro-Caribbean fusion food plus different international cuisines.
As the name suggests, Manatus Hotel also promotes the protection of endangered manatees in the region through a signature program. Learn more
Mawamba Lodge contains 60 rooms across sprawling gardens extending from Tortuguero’s lagoon to the Caribbean Sea. Wooden lodges feature porches with hammocks, trendy wooden accents, and plushy king, queen, or single beds (depending on room choice). Enjoy the Caribbean breeze through the netted windows, but keep in mind that only some rooms have views of the lagoons, and the bathrooms feel a bit dated.
The grounds include an outdoor pool area and a buffet restaurant serving Creole-inspired cuisine. If you’re looking for a unique highlight to make your stay in Tortuguero extra memorable, you can dine at the lodge’s “floating” restaurant. Book a table in advance to enjoy your dinner while drifting on the lagoon!
There’s plenty to enjoy at Mawamba Lodge. Still, one of the property’s biggest perks is its proximity to Tortuguero Town and the Sea Turtle Conservancy Museum (just a 15- to 20-minute walk). It’s also accessible to the beach, which you can visit with a guide to watch the turtles hatch during the hatching season. Most area accommodations require a boat ride to get to town, so this is definitely a highlight. Learn more