The arrival of olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) in the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge is typical during November. Hundreds of turtles lay their eggs in Ostional’s dark sand.
The Ostional Wildlife Refuge was created in 1984 to protect the animals from poachers known for stealing turtle eggs for commercial purposes. It covers approximately 238 hectares of protected land, including 15 km of beach territory.
It is in the Nicoya Peninsula, about 50 km from Nicoya (city) and a few kilometers away from Nosara.
“Arribadas” (turtle arrivals), which is how this phenomenon is commonly known, often occur during September, October, and November.
This mesmerizing event can be seen on three beaches in the northern Pacific of the country Nancite in Santa Rosa National Park, Corozalito, and Ostional Refuge, where the largest number of turtles arrive. It is the second most important place in the world for the protection and nesting of the species.
“Historically, in the September, October, and November arrivals, over a hundred thousand turtles can arrive in one night; however, it is impossible to know the exact number. In fact, last year, we recorded more than 219,000 turtles arriving at Ostional. A similar number would be expected for this month, but it is only an estimate,” noted Andres Jimenez, who works at Ostional.
Given the importance of turtle conservation and the aim of protecting these animals, Ostional beach restricts tourist access. Visitors are allowed if a local guide accompanies them. Nonetheless, no further activities are permitted at the beach, and once the watching tour is over, the visitor must leave.
SINAC also reminded the population that extracting eggs without authorization “will be criminally prosecuted before the corresponding authorities.”
Reservations should be made before arriving at Ostional to ensure there are available guides. Visitors are encouraged to follow the instructions of the SINAC Park Rangers, the beach guards of the Ostional Development Association (ADIO), and community guides.
SINAC also provided the following official list of accredited guides to coordinate the details of tours and visits, which can be found below.