·

How To Get To Tortuguero, Costa Rica (2024)


Hidden on the remote riverbanks of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, lies the sleepy village of Tortuguero. Cut off from the rest of Costa Rica, Tortuguero is home to a maze of waterways and a thick, dense jungle. 

Tourists from all over the globe make the journey to Tortuguero to lay their eyes upon some of the magnificent wildlife that calls Tortuguero Home, from crocodiles to monkeys to jaguars and even the elusive tapir

With Tortuguero being so remote, the journey here isn’t just your standard bus journey or car ride you might have gotten used to during your time in Costa Rica. This beautiful village is only accessible by boat or plane, which makes it all the more special.

If you are wondering how to get to Tortuguero, look no further because I have got you covered. 

Following a fantastic 2-weeks in Costa Rica, Tortuguero was one of my favourite places in Costa Rica. With that, I want to ensure that you have a smooth and seamless journey to Tortuguero, so that you too can enjoy all it has to offer.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to make a verified purchase through the links in this post I will earn a small commission. This will be at no extra cost to you. Thank you 

How to get to Tortuguero from San Jose

There are 3 main ways to get to Tortuguero from San Jose which are as follows:

Plane

You can catch a flight from San Jose to Tortuguero with Sansa Airlines. Flights leave daily from both San Jose and Tortuguero. Flights are only 30 minutes but will set you back $114 (USD) each way.

I haven’t heard glowing reviews of Sansa Airlines, so it’s best to do your research on them before choosing this option.

Car

The easiest way to get to Tortuguero from San Jose is via car. You will need to drive to the dock of La Pavona which is approximately a 2.5 hr drive and 116.2 km in distance.

Once you reach La Pavona, you can pay $10 a day to leave your car in the secure and guarded car park by the dock.

The boat leaves La Pavona at the following times: 7:30, 11:00, 1:00, and 4:30. The journey can take between 45-minutes to 2 hours (depending on water levels) and costs around $3 per person, and you will also have to pay an extra $2 for each bag you bring on board.

Private Shuttle

You can catch a private shuttle from San Jose to La Pavona for $50 (USD)

Looking for more Costa Rica inspiration? Check out my other Costa Rica guides.

Public Bus
Step 1 – San Jose to Cariari

From the Gran Terminal del Caribe in central San Jose, you can catch the bus to the town of Cariari. This is roughly a 2h – 2.5h journey and will cost you about $4-$6 (USD).

Step 2- Bus from Cariari to La Pavona

From Cariari the bus to La Pavona only leaves every couple of hours. The journey will cost $3  and takes around 1.5 hours.

These buses from Cariari to La Pavona are timed in accordance with the boat departure times from La Pavona. This means you don’t need to worry if the bus is running late as the boats at La Pavona will wait for your arrival.

However, if you do want some chill time before catching the boat (as there is a restaurant at La Pavona) you can take a 35-minute taxi from Cariari to La Pavona which will cost you around $35 (USD).

Step 3 – Boat from La Pavona to Tortuguero

The boat leaves La Pavona at the following times: 7:30, 11:00, 1:00, and 4:30.

The journey can take between 45-minutes to 2 hours (depending on water levels) and costs around $3 per person, and you will also have to pay an extra $2 for each bag you bring on board. 

How to get to Tortuguero from Puerto Viejo

An extremely popular Costa Rica travel route is Tortuguero via the stunning Puerto Viejo.

To get to Tortuguero from Puerto Viejo you can use the following options:

Car

To get to Tortuguero via car you must drive to the ports of either Moin (64.5 km from Puerto Viejo) or La Pavona (194 km from Puerto Viejo) and then catch the boat. The boat from Moin is approximately 3.5 hours from La Pavona 1.5 hours. 

If you are concerned about leaving your car at the ports, rest assured that you can park safely in both Moin and Pavona as both have secure car parks which are guarded at night. You can expect to pay $5-$10 (USD) to park.

Catching the boat from Moin

The boat leaves Moin dock every day at 10 am. The journey takes around 3.5 hours and will cost you around $35 per person. It is recommended that you book tickets in advance and turn up at least 45 minutes before the boat is due to leave.

Catching the boat from La Pavona

The boat leaves La Pavona at the following times: 7:30, 11:00, 1:00, and 4:30.

The journey can take between 45-minutes to 2 hours (depending on water levels) and costs around $3 per person, and you will also have to pay an extra $2 for each bag you bring on board. 

NOTE: If you plan to head towards the pacific coast after your trip to Tortuguero then I recommend leaving your car at La Pavona.

Public Bus to Moin

Catching the bus to get to Tortuguero is a lengthy process, but here are your options.

Step 1 Bus from Puerto Viejo (or Cahuita) to Limón

To Get to Puerto Limon you must catch the Avenida 73 bus from MEPE bus station in Puerto Viejo.

The buses leave hourly from Puerto Viejo station at 20 past the hour (please ensure you double-check the bus times before your journey as this could be subject to change).

The journey to Limon should take you roughly 1hr 30 this will cost you between $4-6 (USD).

Step 2: Catch a taxi from Limón to Moin

From Limon, you can catch a Taxi to the Moin boat dock. This should cost you between $7-10 (USD).

NOTE:
You can catch a bus from Limon to Moin (these leave Limon every 30 minutes)  however taxis are much more reliable to ensure you catch the boat on time.

Step 3: Catch the ferry from Moin to Tortuguero

The boat leaves Moin dock every day at 10 am. The journey takes around 3.5 hours and will cost you around $35 per person. It is recommended that you book tickets in advance and turn up at least 45 minutes before the boat is due to leave.

Public Bus to La Pavona
Step 1- Bus from Puerto Viejo (or Cahuita) to Limón

To Get to Puerto Limon you must catch the Avenida 73 bus from MEPE bus station in Puerto Viejo.

The buses leave hourly from Puerto Viejo station at 20 past the hour (please ensure you double-check the bus times before your journey as this could be subject to change).

The journey to Limon should take you roughly 1hr 30 and this will cost you between $4-6 (USD)

Step 2 – Bus from Limón to Guapiles

When you arrive in Limón you will park up at the local MEPE bus station.

From here you will need to walk to the Gran Terminal del Caribe (also named ‘Autotransportes Caribeños’ in Google Maps)  which is a super quick 3-minute walk away.

You will need to catch a TRACASA bus from Limón to Guapiles and you can ask at the bus station to ensure that you are getting on the correct one.

The journey to Guapiles should take between 1h 45 – 2h and will cost roughly $6 (USD).

✈️ ⛴️NEED TO BOOK A BUS, PLANE, FERRY OR TRAIN?

💻🎟️CHECK OUT YOUR OPTIONS ON BOOKAWAY.COM

Step 3 – Bus from Guapiles to Cariari

When you arrive in Guapiles, you can (thankfully) stay at the same bus station, as you will need to catch the bus to Cariari from here also.

You will need to catch a COOPETRACA bus, and again make sure you ask at the terminal which is the correct bus to take. The journey to Cariari should take around an hour and cost $2 (USD). 

Step 4- Bus from Cariari to La Pavona

From Cariari the bus to La Pavona only leaves every couple of hours. The journey will cost $3  and takes around 1.5 hours.

These buses from Cariari to La Pavona are timed in accordance with the boat departure times from La Pavona.

This means you don’t need to worry if the bus is running late as the boats at La Pavona will wait for your arrival.

However, if you do want some chill time before catching the boat (as there is a restaurant at La Pavona) you can take a 35-minute taxi from Cariari to La Pavona which will cost you around $35 (USD).

Step 5 – Boat from La Pavona to Tortuguero

You have finally arrived at La Pavona and now it is time to catch the boat. The boat leaves La Pavona at the following times: 7:30, 11:00, 1:00, and 4:30.

The journey can take between 45-minutes to 2 hours (depending on water levels) and costs around $3 per person, and you will also have to pay an extra $2 for each bag you bring on board.

🤳🌎 NEED DATA WHILST YOU’RE ABROAD? WHY NOT DOWNLOAD AN ESIM.

➡️➡️ Avoid roaming fees, and have peace of mind that you have internet access when WiFi isn’t available.

Note On Taking The Boat To Tortuguero

The journey time to Tortuguero will vary depending on the water level. If you are travelling during the dry season expect the journey to take longer at around 1.5h-2h.

However, if you are travelling during the rainy season, this can take up to as little as 45 minutes.

I travelled during the dry season and the journey took about 1.5 hours. The water levels were extremely low and the boat kept getting stuck (it very nearly capsized at one point).

Planning your Journey

It is important to be mindful of the times at which you take public transport to ensure that you can catch your boat on time. And, if you are travelling via La Pavona that you catch the last boat of the day.

I would highly recommend that you catch the first bus of the day to ensure you reach the dock on time.

Similar Posts

2 Comments

  1. Hi Christina, thanks for your travel guides here. This particular one is so helpful for my planning of a longer trip next year. 😊 I stumbled upon your Instagram today and am so happy to read that other 9-5 workers succeed, too. I also often get the remark how it’s possible to travel so much. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right? Keep exploring, I wish you all the best and luck with your projects!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *