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5 Signs Pacuare Reserve is your ultimate travel destination

Updated: Jan 11

Pacuare Reserve - your ultimate travel destination

Unlike other EPI program sites, Pacuare Reserve in Costa Rica is open to visitors of all ages. The Reserve offers one-of-a-kind activities and accommodations for solo travelers, couples, ecotourists, families, and anyone else looking for a unique vacation experience.

If you're searching for a hidden getaway and the chance to engage with and protect the incredible wildlife of Costa Rica, read on to find out why this is the experience for you!

Get off the grid - Pacuare Reserve is only accessible by boat.
Get off the grid - Costa Rica's Pacuare Reserve is only accessible by boat.

1. You like to adventure off the grid

A trip to Pacuare Reserve is where the best of two natural worlds collide. Here, a vast Costa Rican rainforest teeming with wildlife meets the coastal beaches of the Caribbean Sea, one of the most important nesting sites for leatherback sea turtles. Visitors get to enjoy a preserved and largely untouched tropical paradise, thanks to The Reserve's dedication to sustainability and wildlife conservation.

If you’re looking to be pampered with massages in air-conditioned rooms, lounge around infinity pools, and indulge in all the finer material things during your vacation, The Reserve might not be the place for you. If you’re a curious, open-minded adventurer who enjoys going off-grid, and gets a thrill from contributing to authentic scientific research, say no more!

Just getting there is part of the adventure. The Reserve’s remote location is only accessible

by boat, so you’ll spend a 15-minute water ride snaking through rainforest-banked canals, taking in your first sightings of monkeys, caiman, and other unforgettable Costa Rican wildlife.

Simple accommodation, incredible views

Pacuare Reserve is first and foremost a safe haven and conservation research site for thousands of animal and plant species, including the vulnerable status leatherback sea turtle and the elusive agami heron. As such, the site’s campus and accommodations are simple, rustic, and powered entirely by solar energy to best preserve the area. The benefit for you? With no electricity, crowds, or distractions, you’ll experience the incredible wildlife, landscape, and people of this magical place without interruption.

Your choices for accommodation at The Reserve include the Casa Grande Eco Lodge, which houses five rooms and a massive balcony offering stunning views of the sea and surrounding forest. Casa Baulas is a separate beachfront bungalow with two bedrooms and a small living area, ideal for families on vacation with children. Traveling with a group? Several rustic cabins are also available at The Reserve.

Find Pacuare Reserve accommodations and reviews on!

2. You want more than the average tour, but less planning

Logistics are usually the most stressful parts of traveling, especially when making plans for family or groups. Your stay at Pacuare Reserve includes an all-inclusive trip package so you can skip the extensive planning.

All-inclusive packages and services for the whole family:

  • Boat transportation from a dock near Matina

  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

  • Training on the protocol of the marine turtle monitoring program (March-August)

  • Intro to The Reserve and its programs

  • Participation in a turtle census (March-August)

  • Daily hike with staff, where you'll see diverse animal and plant species of the Costa Rican rainforest

  • Tour of the surrounding canal

  • Visit to the Agami Heron Sanctuary (May–September)

3. You're looking for ethical, meaningful wildlife encounters

In addition to the magical setting, a trip to Pacuare Reserve is unlike the experience typical of most Costa Rica tour packages. “It is so different from other experiences because you are a part of the research and conservation work we do. It’s definitely not a tour, it's very hands-on,” says Esteban Lobo, Community Outreach and Reservations Coordinator.

While Costa Rica is world renowned for its ecotourism, it can be difficult to know which companies are actually practicing what they preach. "Visitors really respect how seriously we take the wildlife protocols and interactions here. Sadly, it's not something they typically see with other companies they book with," says Lobo.

Visitor wildlife activities include:

Morning and nighttime sea turtle censuses at one of the most important leatherback sea turtle nesting sites in the world (March-August). During the census, you may encounter a larger-than-life, 800-pound leatherback female, or a nest of tiny hatchlings ready to take on the open sea. You'll see how research assistants collect the data that contributes to preserving the iconic sea turtle species. This activity is an unforgettable highlight for guests of any age.

Rainforest walks: The Reserve is home to more than 200 bird species, 32 mammal species (including jaguar, ocelot, and three species of monkeys), and a plethora of reptiles. Staff from The Reserve will guide you along the rainforest trails where you'll see amphibians, mammals, and arthropods, and learn about their natural habitats.

Agami heron at Pacuare Reserve in Costa Rica
Agami herons nesting at Pacuare Reserve in Costa Rica.

A visit to the Agami Heron Sanctuary (May–September): The rare and beautiful agami heron nests in a small lagoon within The Reserve, the only known nesting colony for this species in Central America, and one of only a few accessible nesting sites in the world. Because so little is known about this elusive bird, Pacuare Reserve staff have begun monitoring and research efforts to help gain an understanding of their behavior.

Check out the full list of Pacuare Reserve activities here.

We stayed here for 2 nights with our kids (8/10yo) and had a fantastic time. Our family was able to watch a turtle laying eggs and witness baby leatherback turtles scramble for the sea. The staff is amazing, friendly and very helpful. There is so much wildlife to see! Even just the boat ride getting there is amazing. All the meals were delicious. The accommodation is basic but comfortable. We'd love to come back! - Stephanie, guest from Switzerland

4. You want to immerse into a diverse community

A family helps with sea turtle release on the beach
A research assistant talks with visitors while releasing leatherback sea turtle hatchlings safely into the sea.

The Reserve's grounds are a hub of students, visitors, and research assistants from all over the world, all with unique backgrounds and interests. The limited lodging and intimate setting allow you to easily integrate into The Reserve’s vibrant community and work. Local staff members are lively, passionate people who will gladly share their knowledge with you and answer questions. The Reserve employs around 20 local individuals in a region that is remote and economically disadvantaged.

Feel free to pick the brain of Research & Conservation Coordinator Claudio Quesada Rodriguez, who has worked on the monitoring, conservation, and research of sea turtles for more than twenty years.

5. You want to support meaningful conservation work

Pacuare Reserve has been working for the last 30 years in protecting the leatherback sea turtle and collecting data about nesting trends, population status, and nests' survival. It has the longest-running leatherback sea turtle conservation program in the Caribbean region of Costa Rica, and is the only beach in the country that has not shown a negative trend in leatherback populations. Your stay helps support these efforts, as well as all other wildlife and landscape conservation projects that take place at The Reserve.

Your adventure awaits! Come visit Pacuare Reserve for an unforgettable experience in a truly magical place.

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