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Tortuguero National Park, Caribbean Coast's insider take:

Located at the far north end of the Caribbean Coast, Tortuguero National Park is a must-see for nature lovers. River otters, howler monkeys, caimans, manatees, and green macaws are among the creatures that can be seen while exploring the watery world of canals, lagoons, and sloughs by boat. The wetland reserve is also known as the Caribbean's major nesting site for endangered green sea turtles, which return to the beach where they were born to lay eggs between June and October. There are no roads to the small town of Tortuguero, which sits on a narrow piece of land with the Caribbean on one side and a lagoon on the other. Most visitors fly in from San José (about 35 minutes) or catch a boat from the port of Moín, near the town of Limón, which takes approximately one hour. A guided tour of the park is recommended; otherwise, you're likely to miss most of the wildlife. Would you know which leaves to pull back to reveal a lime-green (and deadly) eyelash viper coiled on a branch? The best guides are employed by eco-lodges, but a standout among local guides is Karla Taylor, a bilingual parataxonomist whose grandfather was the one of the first settlers at Tortuguero. Costa Rica Expeditions provides tours as part of its accommodations packages at Tortuga Lodge.—Christopher P. Baker

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