Mawamba Lodge is an eco lodge located minutes from Tortuguero National Park in the northeast corner of Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast. Tortuguero is a remote national park that can only be accessed by boat or plane since the park and village is situated on a network of canals. One would think that due to its remote location it would not be family friendly, but thanks to the itinerary set by Mawamba Lodge, it is a perfect place for family adventure.

Hotel Pick-up in San José

One of the most difficult parts about touring Tortuguero National Park is getting there in the first place. From the capital, you have to catch a bus and then catch a boat. Connections are never easy, especially when kids are involved. Mawamba takes this stress out by picking up visitors at their hotel in San José in air-conditioned buses. The tour begins once you are picked up as the guide will explain the logistics of the rest of the tour and introduces everyone to Tortuguero.

Meals Included

Having meals included in the program is another huge plus. This perk begins almost right away. After everyone is picked up, the bus proceeds through the beautiful Braulio Carrillo National Park and then stops at the other side for a buffet lunch. The tour consists of three days and two nights and three lunches, two breakfasts, and two dinners are included in the tour. Each is a buffet style with a heavy dose of fresh tropical fruit.

Boat Ride

Getting to Tortuguero is half the fun. After a three-hour bus ride which includes a stop at a banana plantation, the road ends and the canals begin. Passengers disembark the bus and step on to a comfortable bus with protection from sun and rain. The boat ride takes 1.5 hours and goes through a beautiful lush environment before ending up at Mawamba Lodge. Watch for crocodiles and dolphins as you approach Tortuguero.

Resort and Pool

Once you arrive at Mawamba, you are given your room assignment. The rooms are comfortable although rather Spartan. They are not air-conditioned, but there is a fan and the room is well ventilated with the windows open. I did not feel too hot in the room. There is also a hammock out front on the porch. Not much time is spent in the rooms because they keep you busy on the tours and there is a wonderful pool.

The Pool

The pool rocks! It has a little circle area on one end perfect for chilling and then it opens up on the other end. On the far end of the pool is a fake waterfall that cascades into the pool. This faux waterfall was kid central. An added bonus was macaws and toucans can be observed flying overhead while enjoying a dip or hanging out poolside.

The Wildlife

The wildlife is off the charts at Tortuguero. In fact, they have many species that children love and they are easy to spot. In fact, we saw spider monkeys and a sloth within the grounds of the resort. They also have a red eyed tree frog hatchery right next to the pool where they raise the tadpoles of these beautiful amphibians and release them.

If your children love animals, Tortuguero is a unique opportunity to see animals one only sees on National Geographic up close and shown in a safe way. There was a young girl on our tour who was certified sloth crazy. She had a sloth hat and carried around a sloth stuffed animal. She was so excited when a sloth was spotted only ten feet off the ground in the Mawamba Lodge gardens. She will certainly remember this experience for the rest of her life.

Tortuguero is one of the most important sites on the Western Hemisphere for the nesting of Sea Turtles. Mawamba offers nesting tours for Green Sea Turtles that nest here between July and October. Our tour was in April, but this provides an excuse to come back during the season.

More Boat Tours and Walking Tour

Tours consist of a boat tour, a village walking tour, a tour of the gardens, and an optional early morning boat tour, and an optional night walking tour. Even the walking tours were very low impact, so all were family friendly. You can also arrange for canoe/kayak tours or rentals, and even a fishing option. Giselle was our guide, and she was absolutely fantastic and an expert in all things Tortuguero and Costa Rica.

Enjoying the Mawamba Lodge Grounds

Mawamba is located on the Caribbean coast, so it is a stone’s throw away from a beautiful beach. Due to turtle nesting, the beach is closed after 5 p.m. Swimming in the ocean is not allowed due to dangerous riptides and animals, but rejoice, the pool is a two-minute walk away.

Tortuguero is a wild fascinating place, which is difficult to get to. Mawamba Lodge, the terrific tour guides, and the staff made this beautiful location easily accessible for anyone interested in an amazing adventure. For more information, check out
Mawamba’s website.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary stay at Mawamba Lodge. This fact does not alter my thoughts in this post as the views, opinions, and photographs are my own.


Related: Check out writing about our most recent international family travel destinations including The Bahamas and Shenzhen


This article was written by Ted Nelson.

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