Tripping Over Turtles 🐢

We have had so many “once in a lifetime”experiences here in Costa Rica. Our latest one was Halloween weekend. The experience is called arribada. It is the annual arrival of hundreds of thousands of sea turtles to lay their eggs on the beaches in Costa Rica. And yes, I said hundreds of thousands.

A friend of mine, Forum, had a wonderful trip last year with her family and had told me that we had to do it so I kept that in the back of my mind but had kind of forgotten about it until another friend, Jana, mentioned that they were wanting to go. I told her that I may have some contacts for her, from Forum, and I would get back to her. (We didn’t end up using those contacts because of the covid changes. You typically go at night because the turtles lay the eggs at night, and because of the curfews in place we had to make the tour for 5 o’clock in the morning.) Yet another friend sent us another guides contact info and we we were so thankful! (Thank you Sara!)

Our friends, Jana and family, invited us to come along and after some ill-timed planning in the beginning we got the trip planned. I say ill-timed because we had the house booked based on a weekend that was good for us but when I message the tour guide he said that was a terrible weekend because he thought the mom turtles would be done laying the eggs but the babies would not start hatching yet so we wouldn’t get to see anything. So he strongly advised us to pick another weekend. We had to cancel that house and choose a completely different one. (Jana was doing this. She was so patient!) We thought it was a little ridiculous but followed his advice anyway and we were very glad that we did. We chose the very next weekend but it paid off. 

The house that we stayed at was within about 20 minutes of the area where the turtles hatch. The tour was at 5 AM but he wanted us there at 4:45. It was literally in his backyard. There were about four or five other groups there but we were able to get the tour guides full attention. I would recommend him to anyone who asks. His name was Gilberth. He spoke pretty good English and was very easy to communicate with through the whole process for scheduling and during the tour. He was very knowledgeable and he said his family has been doing this for six generations. You would have thought because of his energy that this was his very first tour! 

When we started the tour it was still dark and I wasn’t thinking that we would get to see very much. Pretty quickly we were able to see teeny tiny little turtles in the sand. They were the same color as the sand and you had to be very careful not to step on them. The picture above is terrible but I wanted to show how difficult it was to see the tiny turtles in the sand. Gilberth had us walk very fast because he knew something very exciting was up ahead.  I had been told that you either see the laying of the eggs or the baby turtles but you don’t ever see both happening at the same time and we were about to get to witness both happening at the same time. It was really amazing!There were turtles everywhere! Blake and her best friend, Miles This turtle stayed here for so long. It is all they can do to make it out of the water and up to the sand. They still have to dig a huge hole and lay over 100 eggs. When they go back down into the water they are so much lighter and relieved. This little guy was missing an arm. We did watch him make it to the water though. That was the best part. Watching these tiny little babies just instinctively know to go straight to the ocean. The kids were cheering for them! The guide was telling us that the turtles do this every month but September through December is just the busiest time here and that Costa Rica is the most popular place in the world for this to happen.😯The picture below is hard to see but it is of a mom laying her eggs. He said that the median amount of eggs is 110 per turtle. We have a video but unfortunately I can’t put videos on here😏

We did not forget about Halloween! We did a little door-to-door trick-or-treating in the house, the little kids did a “not so scary” haunted house, and my friend Jana even got a piñata!

I would highly recommend this experience and I would say that you would need to do it at this time of year. This is a great area. Nosara is very close. There are Airbnb’s. There is a very cool hostel close by called Selina. I know sometimes hostel sounds scary but I had stayed there before and it was a super cool experience. 

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