Frequently Asked Questions
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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.
Tours & 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 with us, you will be added to a waiting list by selecting a tour date. However, your tour will not necessarily be on the date selected since we can never be sure when an arribada will occur. This is why we will also request a range of dates you are available for the tour in the booking process.
How will I find out once my tour is confirmed?
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.
How long will the tour last?
Tours last approximately 3.5 hours
Meet the expert and refreshments (30 minutes)
Transportation to Ostional (30 minutes)
Turtle Tour (1.5 hours)
Transportation back to meeting point (30 minutes)
What should I wear?
Comfortable, dark clothing (navy blue or black)
Long sleeves and pants are recommended if you are prone to mosquito bites.
Raincoat, in case of rain in the rainy season
Can I take pictures?
Flash photography is strictly prohibited as this can disorient and frighten nesting sea turtles. Photography is permitted during the daytime, but visitors must be mindful and keep a respectful distance to avoid disturbing the turtles. We support Costa Rica’s “No Selfies with Animals” campaign and condemn taking selfies with sea turtles. 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.
How large are tour group sizes?
The law establishes a maximum group size of 9 tourists per guide, 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.
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?
We will provide transportation to Ostional, which is about a 30-minute drive from our meeting point.
Where is the tour meeting point?
Nosara Spanish Institute at the Center of Playa Guiones (Nosara), down the street from Cafe de Paris and Robin’s Ice Cream off of the main road in front of Coconut Harry’s Surf Shop. Please arrive for your tour 15 minutes in advance.
How do I get to the meeting point?
Once in Playa Guiones, turn down the main road at Coconut Harry's and Cafe de Paris, then left just past Surfing Nosara and before you get to Robin's Cafe. The Nosara Spanish Institute is down the road on the left. From there, we'll take you the rest of the way to Ostional.
Learn more about getting here from outside of the Nosara area on our Getting Here page.
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.
Payment, Cancellations & Refunds
Do I need to make a reservation?
Booking reservations must be made a minimum of 12 hours in advance to guarantee booking. Limited space is available for walk-ins.
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.