Tortuguero is a city in Costa Rica.
Tortuguero is one of the most remote places in Costa Rica and is only accessible by boat or plane. The major public road/river routes to get here are through Moín (close to Limón), La Pavona (north of Cariari) and Caño Blanco (accessible through Siquirres).
There is an inexpensive public bus/boat route that can be used to get from San Jose to Tortuguero. Take the 9:00am bus from from San Jose to Cariari, which leaves from the Gran Caribe bus terminal. The bus arrives at the long distance bus terminal in Cariari around 11:00am. Walk 5 blocks north to the local bus terminal and buy a bus/boat combination ticket to Tortuguero via La Pavona. This bus leaves at 12:00pm and takes you to the river at La Pavona, where you transfer to a water taxi that will reach Tortuguero around 3:00pm. To return, catch the 11:30am water taxi from Tortuguero and follow these directions in reverse. The total cost one-way should be around $12 -- $2 for the bus to Cariari and $10 for the bus/water-taxi combo. Beware of touts selling packaged trips along the way, who will tell you that the boats aren't running, the hotels are full, the route isn't safe, and so on -- anything to get you to buy into their "deals". Touts also meet the water taxi in Tortuguero and will offer to "help" you find a hotel.
A quicker but more expensive option is to fly into Tortuguero. Both Sansa and Nature Air offer daily flights from San José. The Sansa flight departs from the domestic terminal of Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) at 5:45 am and arrives in Tortuguero at 6:43 am after a stopover at Barra del Colorado. Nature Air flies out of Tobias Bolanos International Airport (SYQ) in Pavas at 6:15 am and arrives in Tortuguero at 7:15 am after first stopping in Limón. If there are no passengers going to or departing from Barra del Colorado or Limón, the flight time is significantly shorter and should only take about 25-30 minutes.
If you choose to stay at one of the lodges, land/water transportation to and from Tortuguero is usually included in the rates.
The lodges are located outside the village. You can reach the village of Tortuguero if you staying at the Mawamba Lodge (it is a 10min walk). If staying at the other lodges, a boat ride will be necessary.
The lodges in Tortuguero usually include (or have the option of) giving tours around the national park, a walking trail, turtle watching at night, or other activities.
The village itself is small enough that you can easily walk anywhere. You can reach the village by boat.
There are no cars in Tortuguero.
Tortuguero National Park
Turtle hatching / turtle egg laying
- Tortuguerovillage - Official Website, . This is the town's official website, built by the residents. It has all the local places to stay, local shops, tour operators, travel information (instructions on how to get here for less), maps of the town area, reservations, National Park info, turtle tour information, and the famous top things to do in the area list.
The main reason why most people travel to Tortuguero is to see turtles lay eggs on the beach. Turtle watching tours are offered by nearly everyone (it seems) during the egg laying season, which spans April to May for leatherback turtles and July to October for green turtles. The tours leave in the evening and last 1-2 hours. Scouts find the turtles; you wait with your tour at the edge of the beach and are escorted to the right spot when a turtle is found along with all the other groups. Although the likelihood of seeing at least one turtle is quite high in season, there's no guarantee (or refund). You must be accompanied by a local guide to see the turtles.
Many guided boat tours leave Tortuguero and the surrounding lodges at 6am to see the wildlife, jungle, and canals. Most of these tours use large boats with big motors and cannot get very far into the canals. A better option is a canoe tour. Canoes can go where the motorboats can't, allowing you to get away from the seemingly countless motorboat tours and see more of nature. Several people in the village offer canoe tours -- ask around.
For hikers, Cerro Tortuguero is a small hill roughly 6 km north of the village, accessible only by boat. It's only 119 m high, but offers good views of the area. You can arrange a tour or charter a boat from the village, but it's also entirely feasible to go by yourself. The 11:30am water-taxi will drop you off at a small community near the base of the hill on it's way to La Pavona, and will pick you up again around 2:30pm when it returns to Tortuguero. The path to the top of the hill is not marked, so you may need to ask for directions.
The National Park has a small self-guided hiking trail at the north end of the village.
The area is not safe for swimming due to rough surf, strong currents, and sharks.
- To Do List in Tortuguero, . Best things to do in and around Tortuguero, and how to make reservations.
There are several small grocery and hardware stores in the village. There are also shops that sell tourist merchandise (such as some beautiful hand carved wood). There is an internet cafe near the large pink souvenir shop; the current rate is $4 per hour. Prices in the village tend to be expensive due to the remote location.
- Local Shops, Grocery Stores, and Others, . See the list of all the grocery stores, souvenir shops and their wares.
As with the rest of Costa Rica, you will have lots of rice, chicken, and beans. Try the friend bananas! There are several reasonable restaurants in the village.
- Budda Cafe, . Very trendy looking and almost seems out of place in Tortuguero. Wide variety of good food; pizza and desserts are excellent
- Miss Junie's, .
- Dorling's Bakery, . Good for breakfast and baked goods
- List of Restaurants in Tortuguero, .
- La Taberna, . Located directly across from Cabinas Tortuguero and right next to Morpho Supermarket at the southern end of town. Right on the water and is an excellent place to have a drink and watch the sunset. There are a couple pool tables and very loud karaoke. 900 colones (1.80 USD) for a bottle of Imperial, Pilsen or Rock Ice.
- La Culebra. Very loud reggae music and very crowded on Saturday nights. 900 colones (1.80 USD) for a bottle of Imperial, Pilsen or Rock Ice.
There are several resorts located outside of the village that cater to higher-end tourists. Most offer packages including transportation from San Jose and all meals. They include:
- Laguna Lodge, just north of Tortuguero village, ☎ (506) 272-4943(firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: (506) 272-4927), .
- Mawamba Lounge
- Pachira Lodge
- Turtle Beach Lodge, inside Tortuguero National Park, ☎ 011(506) 2248-0707(email@example.com, fax: 011(506) 2257-4409), .
Boats must be used to travel between the village and all the lodges, except for the Mawamba Lodge.
There are several smaller hotels in the village itself, many of which provide as good an accommodation as the larger hotels at reasonable prices. These include:
- Cabinas Tortuguero, ☎ (506) 839-1200, . Clean rooms with fan and hot water showers. Room sizes vary. We paid $30 for a room with 3 twin beds
- Cabinas Miss Miriam, ☎ (506) 709-8107, .
- Cabinas Miss Junie, ☎ (506) 709-8102.
- Cabinas Aracari, ☎ (506) 709-8006, .
Reservations are recommended during the turtle-watching season. Bring a flashlight if staying in the village because power outages are common.
- Bed and Breakfast El Icacó, ☎ (506) 2709-8044, . Right on the beach!
- Cabinas Meris (Meriscar), .
- Cabinas Tropical Lodge, .
- Casa Marbella. Tortuguero's B&B, firstname.lastname@example.org, ☎ (506) 8-833-0827 or 2-709-8011, . The nicest and most servicable place to stay in town.
- El Muellecito Cabinas, ☎ (506) 2709-8104 o (506) 8888-0585, . Super close to the docks, new cabinas, close to everything in town.
- Mi Casa, Su Casa, email@example.com, . Rent a small home very close to the beach, in a quite part of town, boardering the National Park. Very relaxing, and the owner is such a big help!!!
- Princesa Resort, . Right on the beach, lot's of rooms.
- ONLINE RESERVATIONS, firstname.lastname@example.org, . This is a local woman who can make reservations for you at any of the places in town. She speaks English, Spanish, Dutch, etc. Very nice lady.
Travel to and from Tortuguero can be a challenge and there are many ways to do it:
7 USD : Public Bus and Boat through Cariari 34 USD : Public Bus and Boat through Limón 50 - 100 USD : Private Transportation Driving Yourself (and taking a boat) 70 USD : Flying by Airplane 75 - 300 USD : Hotel Package
This page was last edited at 18:13, on 20 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Peter Fitzgerald, Stuart McIlwain, Stacy Hall and Preeti, Wikitravel user(s) Morph, Jonboy and Tortinfo and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.