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Hawksbill Turtles in Costa Rica 2024

These turtles have a peculiar pattern and beak, and are critically endangered

Best time: July–October

Hawksbill Turtles
Hawksbill Turtles
Hawksbill Turtles

The turtle is famous for its distinctive pattern of brown and light, and it's​ recognizable be​ak-like mouth. They are under special protection because of their critically endangered status. In Costa Rica, ​it nests two-three times in a year on beaches on both Pacific and Atlantic coasts, coming back once in few years. Female turtles get ashore to lay eggs only once in three years, mostly at night. Eight-nine weeks later the eggs will hatch, so you can try to see baby turtles crawling to the ocean. The best spots to watch the hawksbill turtles are Cahuita and Tortuguero National Parks.

Practical info

Where are the best places to watch hawksbill turtles in Costa Rica?

To observe hawksbill turtles in Costa Rica, your best bets are Cahuita and Tortuguero National Parks. Nesting mainly on both Pacific and Atlantic coasts, the national parks provide a safe habitat and coastline for the turtles to nest and hatch, away from human interference. Show more

What is the hawksbill turtle's nesting period, and when is the best time to observe it?

July to October is when the hawksbill turtle's nesting period peaks in Costa Rica. The adult turtles come ashore in the dead of night to lay their eggs. The hatching period of these eggs solely depends on the incubation temperature, hence the dates of nesting may vary from year to year. Show more

How frequently does a female hawksbill turtle come ashore to lay eggs, and how many does it lay each time?

Hawksbill turtles nest every three years. Although a single female may come ashore multiple times in a year, it only lays eggs once every three years. In each nesting, the female turtle lays a few hundred eggs in warm sand pits before incubating them for nearly two months before hatching. Show more

What are the salient characteristics of hawksbill turtles?

The distinguishing features of hawksbill turtles are their unique pointed beak-like mouths and multi-colored scales in hues of amber, beige, and brown. These turtles are markedly smaller than the other sea turtle species, with a length of around three feet and a weight of fewer than 100 pounds. Show more

When is the best time to witness the hatching of hawksbill turtle eggs, and how long does it take for them to hatch?

Hawksbill turtle eggs may take close to two months to hatch, depending on the incubation temperature. The prime period to observe the eggs in Costa Rica is from July to October, when the baby turtles crawl out of their shells and head out into the ocean for the first time. This awe-inspiring natural spectacle usually unfolds in the early afternoon. Show more

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