Costa RicaCosta Rica

A Beautiful Tortuguero Sunrise and Ride Home

Destination: Tortuguero

This was my last day in Tortuguero and Vincent and I were getting up early to stroll the beach -- we were hoping to see green turtle hatchlings and a beautiful sunrise. At 4:15, I turned off my alarm, hopped out of bed, and grabbed my camera.

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The beach was dark and deserted when we walked out; to protect nesting turtles, Tortuguero's beach is closed from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. Our feet in the sand, we sat and waited for 5:00 to roll around -- the sky stretched out before us, deep blue in the pre-dawn, and I enjoyed the tranquil calm that blanketed the beach.

Just as the very first sun rays peeked over the horizon, we began walking the beach. I could hardly see, but still kept my eyes trained on the sand in front of me; if a baby turtle crawled out, I was going to see it! But as the minutes passed with no baby turtles, my concentration waned and a pink sun beckoned me to look right -- spreading out over gentle waves, pink streaks smeared the sky and painted clouds drifted overhead.

The sunrise was magnificent. The setting was perfect for such a moment -- the gray-sand beach was empty, the waves crashed close to the shore, and clouds decorated the sky. Everything was illuminated with the sun's rosy glow, and I was compelled to just stand and watch.

Though we didn't discover any baby sea turtles on our two-hour walk, it was far from unsuccessful. We had seen the week's most beautiful sunrise, which was a fitting end to a wildly enjoyable trip. Trudging back to the room, I finished packing my bags before heading over for my last poolside breakfast.

By the time 9:00 rolled around, I was prepared to leave but not ready to go. Boarding the boat, I felt thankful that my vacation wouldn't be over for another few hours -- we still had a 90-minute boat ride back to Cano Blanco, a riverside lunch, and a trip through Braulio Carrillo National Park.

We meandered through the canals, the boat moving quickly over the river's tiny waves. Egrets and herons were easily visible, and I saw several turtles sunning themselves on the river's edge. Too soon, we had disembarked and were waiting for our 11 a.m. bus pickup.

Just after 1:00, we stopped for lunch. My stomach was growling and the buffet looked delicious, but first my eyes wanted to feast on the restaurant's surroundings. Mawamba's restaurant is called Rio Danta, or Danta River -- and the setting was picture perfect: the rushing river gurgled over rocks and a foot bridge completed the picturesque scene.

After lunch, I snapped some photos just before the darkening sky opened up. We had experienced wonderful weather during our visit to Tortuguero, so it seemed fitting that the sky would cry upon our departure -- truth be told, I felt more than a little nostalgic myself.

A Beautiful Tortuguero Sunrise and Ride Home in Pictures

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