Discovering Tortuguero: A Guide to Getting There and Enjoying Your Stay


Embarking on Your Adventure to Tortuguero from San Jose: A Detailed Guide Step by Step

Embarking on a journey to Tortuguero, a haven tucked away in the beautiful landscapes of Costa Rica, starts with an exciting trip from San Jose. When you land at San Jose airport, you’ll have transportation choices to get to the secluded yet captivating Tortuguero. For individuals seeking to enjoy the splendor of Costa Rica on a budget, the usual adventure includes taking a shuttle to La Pavona and then embarking on a boat excursion. This path’s cheapest option offers a variety of scenery and a close look at the vibrant plant and animal life in Costa Rica.

The shuttle from San Jose to La Pavona is a matter of planning. The ride generally lasts 4 to 5 hours and varies radically based on traffic, weather, and… animal crossings(?). It’s probably wise to fly in early and stay the night near San Jose to be first in line for La Pavona the following day. Innumerable travelers suggest catching some sleep between Alajuela and San Jose your first night so you can get on a shuttle early the following day.

Another portion of your journey is the public boats from La Pavona to Tortuguero village. This is another part of your journey and a very authentic local experience! These boats run on a schedule, and it’s typical to see boats heading into Tortuguero all day long. They are not costly (approx. $10 per person). Timings and costs may vary, so check closer to your travel date.

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Some lodges in Tortuguero, like the Manatus Hotel, provide transportation services if you’re looking for extra comfort and convenience. Although they may cost more, these choices offer a journey from your arrival in San Jose to the center of Tortuguero by combining land and water travel options. Furthermore, the Caribeshuttle vans offer a middle-ground option, including hotel pickups, land and boat portions, and sometimes even a breakfast stop for a holistic travel experience.

Best Accommodation Options in Tortuguero: Luxury Resorts vs. Charming Bed and Breakfasts

With accommodations ranging from the rustic to the posh, Tortuguero caters to every interest and budget. The upscale lodges in the area provide all the luxury and comfort you’d want while visiting the wilderness. Many also offer all-inclusive transportation from San Jose, ensuring a no-hassle journey to the region so you can begin soaking up the peace and natural beauty as soon as you arrive.

Conversely, the Casa Marbella, a modest yet charming hotel in Tortuguero village, appeals to independent travelers. This hotel is well known for its guidance and suggestions on how to get to and from Tortuguero using buses and boats, which capture the spirit of an exciting yet affordable journey. Additionally, places such as Adventure Inn offer comfort and adventure with guided trips beyond Tortuguero to discover other captivating places throughout Costa Rica.

A good tip is to be careful with the luggage restrictions for the boats to and from Tortuguero. Whichever boat option you take—lodge organized transport or public—there are strict weight limit restrictions for luggage. They change often but usually range from 12kg to 30 lbs. Following these rules makes the whole process smoother and more respectful for everyone on board.

What activities can one enjoy in Tortuguero when it’s not turtle nesting season?

Nesting season is not the only time you’ll find this area steeped in natural wonder. Tortuguero is a leading center of biological diversity in Costa Rica, providing nature enthusiasts with thrills year-round. Canal tours present unique opportunities for entering the rich ecosystem of the Costa Rican rainforest, a tranquil retreat to the natural world where chattering wildlife is the only sound you’ll encounter.

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In Tortuguero, you can spot more than the impressive turtles – there’s a variety of wildlife, from vibrant birds to sneaky caimans. The COTERC research station provides insightful excursions and night patrols, allowing visitors to delve deeper into the region’s conservation efforts and diverse fauna. Kayaking along the water paths, where you might spot a caiman gliding beside you, provides an authentic and thrilling connection to nature that any artificial tourist destination cannot replicate.

To all travelers planning to visit Tortuguero outside the nesting season, fear not. The village and its surroundings offer a peaceful introduction to nature with plenty of opportunities to interact with the wildlife and scenery that make Costa Rica a unique destination.

Finally, as experience has taught me, your visit to and stay in Tortuguero can be fast-paced, outward-bound, or slow and meditative. With some planning and adventurous spirit, your travel experience – from how you get there to your accommodation – can be crafted to fit your travel proclivities. Beyond all the nonstop tourism logistical stuff, Tortuguero has much to offer. It can bring you closer to nature during the peak turtle season or even at other times of the year. Just embrace the journey and let Tortuguero delight you with its natural splendor. That is if you plan and are ready for some adventure,


How do I travel from San Jose to Tortuguero?

Take a shuttle from San Jose to La Pavona, then a public boat to Tortuguero for the cheapest, most earth-friendly and most scenic option.

Where can I stay in Tortuguero?

Accommodation choices in Tortuguero range from resorts that provide transportation services to basic hotels favored by solo travelers, such as Casa Marbella.

What can you do in Tortuguero when it’s not turtle nesting season?

When it’s not turtle nesting season, tourists have the opportunity to experience canal excursions, observe wildlife, go kayaking, and visit conservation research facilities such as COTERC.

When would be the time to travel to Tortuguero to witness turtle nesting?

Turtles nest in Tortuguero from July to October. However, the area boasts plenty of natural wonders and opportunities to spot wildlife all year round.

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