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TOURS AND LOGISTICS

How does the booking process work?

The arribada is a natural phenomenon that cannot be predicted, but our booking process increases the likelihood that you will see the turtles. When you book a sea turtle tour with us, we will request a range of dates you are available for the tour and confirm your tour date when you’ll have the best chance of a sea turtle sighting. For multi-day tours, your itinerary may be subject to change depending on turtle behavior during your stay.

How will I find out once my tour is confirmed?

You will receive an email notification. For Thousands of Turtles (arribada) tours: as soon as we confirm an arribada has started and this coincides with your requested dates, we will notify you of your tour meeting time via email with at least 6 hours notice. 
 

Can I take pictures?

Flash photography is strictly prohibited as this can disorient and frighten nesting sea turtles and other wildlife. Photography is permitted during the daytime, but visitors must be mindful and keep a respectful distance. For photos of sea turtles, it’s best to wait until the turtle is settled into their egg-laying trance and avoid standing in front of the turtle. We support Costa Rica’s “No Selfies with Animals” campaign and condemn taking selfies with wildlife. 

How large are tour group sizes?

The law establishes a maximum group size of 9 tourists per guide for sea turtle tours, including children (3+ years old). There is no entry charge for infants (age 0-3) but they must be carried by their guardians at all times for safety reasons. All other tours are currently offered to private groups only.


Do I have to be accompanied by a guide on the beach?

The law requires everyone be accompanied by a guide to view sea turtles at Ostional, whether it is during an arribada, for viewing solitary nesting turtles, or hatchlings.
 

How do I get to Ostional? 

Ostional is a 30 minute drive (11 km) north of Nosara. From Café de Paris in Guiones, head north on Route 160. Keep left when you reach the Rinde Más Supermarket and turn right after the “Rasta Bridge” in Santa Marta. Turn left shortly thereafter to stay on Route 160.

What are road conditions like?

Although the road from Nicoya to Nosara is on a national highway, it is currently an unpaved road most of the way. A 4WD vehicle is highly recommended, especially in the rainy season when road conditions are particularly poor.
 

What is the weather like?

The Guanacaste province of Costa Rica is a tropical dry forest with two seasons. The rainy season lasts from May–November, with the heaviest rains occurring in the months of September and October. During the dry season (December–April), there is close to no rain at all.

ARRIBADAS

What is an arribada?
An arribada is an amazing natural phenomenon in which hundreds or thousands of sea turtles emerge from the ocean to nest within a matter of days. This behavior only occurs in the Ridley sea turtles (genus Lepidochelys) and occurs at few sites around the world.


How many turtles nest during an arribada?
In Ostional in the rainy season (July - November), hundreds of thousands of turtles can nest within a single arribada event. Events in the dry season (December - June) are smaller, with tens of thousands of turtles participating in each event. 

When do arribadas occur?
Arribadas occur at Ostional Beach in the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge almost every month of the year, but occasionally skip a month and in other instances occur twice a month. While this is a natural phenomenon that cannot be predicted, our booking process increases the likelihood that you will see an arribada.

What time of day is best to see the arribada?​

Sea turtle behavior is unpredictable and can change for each individual event, but with our booking process we will ensure you see the maximum number of turtles possible.

When do the largest arribadas occur?
The largest arribadas typically occur in the months of September and October.

How long do arribadas last?
Arribadas in the rainy season (July–November) last 4 days on average, while arribadas in the dry season (December–June) last 3 days.

PAYMENT, CANCELLATIONS & REFUNDS

Do I need to make a reservation?

Yes, we currently offer tours by reservation only. Booking reservations must be made a minimum of 12 hours in advance to guarantee booking.

What payment methods do you accept?

We accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards for safe, secure, and easy online bookings. Your credit card information is secure via our partnership with Peek.com.

What happens if an arribada does not occur?

If you would like, we will offer you a solitary nesting sea turtle tour instead. Otherwise, we will cancel your booking and you will receive a full refund within 2-3 business days.

Under what conditions would a tour be cancelled?

Tours will not be cancelled for light rain, but may be cancelled in case of lightning and heavy rains that make the rivers on the way to Ostional impassable. Tours may also be cancelled if the Refuge Administration closes access to the beach for any reason. If your tour is cancelled, you will receive a full refund within 2-3 business days. 
 

Can I cancel my reservation?

You can cancel up to 24 hours before your confirmed tour for a full-refund.

Do you give refunds?

Yes, we offer refunds and these are usually received within 2–3 business days, depending on how long your bank takes to process refunds. If you cannot make your scheduled tour time, we will do our best to accommodate you at a different time. Cancellations can be made up to 24 hours before your scheduled tour for a full refund. If an arribada does not occur during your selected date range, you can choose to cancel your reservation for a full refund or go on a solitary turtle tour instead.

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ABOUT US
The Wildlife Conservation Association is a non-profit in Costa Rica dedicated to promoting wildlife conservation through scientific research, community engagement, and immersive educational experiences that inspire sustainable living. (Cédula Jurídica 3-002-787658)

LOCATION

Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Ostional Guanacaste, Costa Rica

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info@wcanosara.org

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