The Manuel Antonio/Central Pacific coastal region is one of the most visited destinations in Costa Rica and famous for its national park, beaches, and most impressive landscapes. It is an ideal location to observe the different species of sea turtles that come to nest in Costa Rica.
Olive Ridley sea turtles, also known as Pacific Ridley and also the smallest of all marine turtle breeds, nest between July and November in the waters near Manuel Antonio. These turtles move in quietly from the sea and dig a hole up to two feet deep into the sand, where they can lay up to 150 eggs.
The best times to witness Olive Ridleys nesting is when the moon is the last quarter; the chance of spotting them is almost five times greater than any other moon phase during turtle season in Costa Rica. Olive Ridleys tend to ride in on the waves of high tide at night. Large groups of them can be seen hovering together near their nesting beach, and they tend to exit the water together in a large group. The females also tend to nest at the same beach where they were born.
Olive Ridleys have been listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Federal Endangered Species Act, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources classifies them as critically endangered. It is because of this that all tours to observe these turtles must be accompanied by a guide.
If you are considering taking a tour to observe Olive Ridleys at night, you should wear dark clothing, stay quiet, and keep your distance, as many sights, sounds, and smells may frighten them. You should avoid making any sudden movements or disturbing their nest. Hatchlings should never be picked up, as it is important that they learn to crawl on their own and make their way to the ocean. It is very important to avoid using flashlights and flash photography, as the hatchlings may scatter in different directions.
Should you spot any sights of nesting turtles, dead turtles or unmarked nests, it is very important to report this to us in order to help protect this beautiful species.