Tortuguero, Costa Rica

A unique village without cars on the Caribbean coast

The Tortuguero Vibe

Want to know one of our favorite spots in Costa Rica? This is it!

The vibe here is nothing like anything else you will find in Costa Rica.

Imagine a small island without cars, a relaxed feel, extremely nice people, a cool national park, and best of all, turtles!

Yeap, you read that right!

In late summer/ early autumn, you can watch hundreds of huge sea turtles laying their eggs and see little babies waddle their way out to sea.

It’s perfect and definitely worth a visit.

tortuguero map

Map Of Tortuguero

Tortuguero is located on the northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. In fact, it is so far north that Nicaragua is just north of Tortuguero.

Tortuguero at a Glance

Nearest International Airport

Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose

Popular Things to Do

early morning wildlife canoe rides, walking the national park trails, taking a sea turtle tour

Best Way to Get Around

By foot! There are no cars in Tortuguero

Best Time of Year to Visit

The best weather tends to be from late July until mid- October


Getting to Tortuguero

I struggled writing this section because Tortuguero is just so amazing and I want you all to see it, but it can be really difficult to find an affordable and easy way to get here.

I spent hours researching and asking other people about taking the public bus here from San Jose and have determined its kind of impossible. Anyway, let’s go through your options…..

Flights to Costa Rica

The easiest way of getting to Tortuguero is by flying in to the San Jose International Airport. 

If you haven’t booked your flight yet, we suggest using Skyscanner. We consistently find the best rates through their website.


Renting a Car

The best way of getting here is definitely by car, but that means you will have to park your rental car for however many days you are on the island, which means you are paying for a car you won’t be using. Ugh!

If you do opt to rent a car, we suggest renting with Adobe. They are our favorite rental car company in Costa Rica and the only company we really trust. You can find out more about renting a car and get a 10% discount with Adobe here.


The drive from San Jose to La Pavona (the town where you park your car) takes about 2.5 hours and is pretty nice.

The last 30 minutes of your drive is on an unpaved road. A 4×4 would be nice, but we’ve also done it in a tiny sedan. I wouldn’t pay extra for a 4×4 just for this thirty minutes.

You then park your car in a secure lot. The lot is guarded 24 hours a day and we have never heard of anyone having any thefts with their car in the lot. 

However, please still don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle. When you leave the lot at the end of your stay you will be charged about $10 a day for the length of your stay.

Private Shuttle

Adobe Transfers will take you from wherever you are in the country to La Pavona where you can grab a boat to take to Tortuguero.Find out more here.



Sansa Airline flies direct from San Jose to Tortuguero. This is definitely the fastest way of getting there (it’s about a 25-minute flight) but it can be pricey and it is not something I recommend to any of you that are scared of flying. 

Flights range in price depending on the season.

If you’d like to look more into flying check out your options here.

No matter what way you arrive to La Pavona (accept for by plane) you will then need to take a boat out to Tortuguero.

There is a public boat which costs about $3 for a one-way ticket. It departs La Pavona at 7:30am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, and 4:30pm or whenever there are enough people to fill the boat. It is possible to buy tickets for this at the same place you park your car or get dropped off in La Pavona.

Another option is to take a private boat from a local. They are usually happy to leave whenever and sometimes charge less. They also tend to drive their boat a lot faster (which I love).

Going with a local driver is discouraged by the public boat people. Apparently there have been some incidents in the past.

The ride out to Tortuguero takes about 45 minutes. Make sure you have your camera because it is super cool! You’ll feel like you just entered Jurassic Park.

Once you arrive at Tortuguero there will sometimes be someone from your hotel waiting to meet you or your boat driver can direct you to your hotel.

I hope this didn’t discourage you from visiting. It really is an amazing place once you arrive!

Getting Around in Tortuguero

There are no cars in Tortuguero and the village is pretty small. You can get everywhere by foot within a few minutes. 

Tortuguero Weather

Welcome to the Caribbean coast where the weather is the complete opposite to the rest of Costa Rica!

Here, the rainy season runs from mid-December until end of July. I know, that sounds like a whole lot of rainy time, but let me explain.

Although it can be rainy, you just never really know. We have visited in January and had amazing weather. We have also visited in January and experienced complete washout days.

One thing we have noticed though is that usually when it rains, it at least rains at night. Daytime rainstorms don’t happen that often.

Also, the temperature stays fairly warm even when raining.

During the dry months, the weather is amazing and warm!