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Experience Paradise: Tortuga Island, Costa Rica

Tortuga Island in Costa Rica is located in the southeastern part of the Nicoya Peninsula and is definitely one of the most beautiful islands in the area.

Its golden sandy beaches, surrounded by turquoise waters and lush vegetation, make this island the perfect destination for a day trip when you visit the Nicoya Peninsula.

The Nicoya Peninsula is in the north of Costa Rica.

It is famous for its clean beaches, forests that have not been changed by people, and pretty beach towns that are popular with surfers and people who love the beach from all around the world.

Tortuga Island Costa Rica: all you need to know

The island is located in the southeastern part of the Nicoya Peninsula, and it is accessible only by boat.

You cannot spend your night on the island, but it is the perfect destination for a day trip from Puntarenas Province and even San Jose.

The best time to go here is during the dry season and there are plenty of interesting and unique activities to try while in the area.

This beautiful peninsula is considered one of the 5 Blue Zones of the whole world, a place famous for longer life expectancy and high quality of life.

The quickest way to get from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica to the Nicoya Peninsula is by plane; you can catch the daily flights from San Jose International Airport to Tambor airport.

Book accommodation in the area around Jaco beach or Puntarenas and take a boat to the Costa Rica Tortuga Island, as boats are the only way to get to the island.

Tortuga Island in Costa Rica Beach
Tortuga Island on Costa Rica Beach

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How to get to Isla Tortuga

Isla Tortuga Costa Rica is part of the Islas Negritos Biological Reserve off the Nicoya Peninsula, a protected area famous for its rich wildlife and impressive landforms.

The only way to get to Turtle Island is by boat, and day tours from Jaco beach or Puntarenas are extremely popular among tourists interested in exploring new parts of the world.

Costa Rica Travel Restrictions
Costa Rica Travel Restrictions

The boat ride lasts about one and a half hours, and on your way to this magnificent strip of sand, you might see humpback whales, spinner dolphins, and many other marine creatures living around the island.

You will most probably land at San Jose International Airport, Costa Rica’s main gateway to the world and from here, the quickest way to get to the Nicoya Peninsula is by plane which lands at Juan Santamaria International Airport.

How to get to Tortuga Island in Costa Rica from Montezuma

If you plan to visit Isla Tortuga, you will most probably stay in small towns like Santa Teresa, Cabuya and Malpais.

Many people have asked me how to get to Isla Tortuga Costa Rica from Montezuma, so I have decided to make a separate caption detailing the directions.

There are two main ways to get from Montezuma to Isla Tortuga:

  • by boat as many tours start in Montezuma and generally last for the whole day
  • by car on the mainland and then take a ferry

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Best time to visit Tortuga Islands Costa Rica

The best time to visit Isla Tortuga Costa Rica is during the dry season between December to April when there are no precipitations, the sky is clear, the sun is burning, and the water visibility is perfect.

Being an exotic island, Tortuga has great temperature and good visibility all year round, amazing conditions, and is highly recommended for snorkeling tours and scuba diving.

The rainy season that lasts from May to November comes with some rainy days but nothing to bother and not that good water visibility, but overall the weather is still great for a holiday.

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Things to do on Tortuga Island in Costa Rica

No matter if you want to spend a day on the most beautiful island in Costa Rica or want to follow one of the many hiking trails or want to explore the ocean, Tortuga is the best place for you to go.

Here are some things you can do on your day trip to Tortuga Islands Costa Rica:

1. Tortuga Island Costa Rica snorkeling

This small but beautiful island of Tortuga Costa Rica is famous for the best snorkeling and scuba diving conditions from the waters around the island.

On a sunny day, the water visibility reaches 30 meters so you can spot any trace of marine life that lives in the waters.

Tortuga Island in Costa Rica
Tortuga Island in Costa Rica

Glass bottom boats are great options to spot marine life without entering the water, while banana boats are preferred by those who are not afraid of getting wet.

There is an abundance of marine life around the island so seeing spotted eagle rays and manta rays, dolphins, octopus, sharks, and angelfish are quite common.

2. Diving around the shipwrecks

Just a few meters off the shore of Isla la Tortuga, there are three shipwrecks, and diving in the area is highly popular as you can see not just the ships but also the abundance of marine life that hide from predators inside these ships.

Tortuga Island Costa Rica Snorkeling
Isla Tortuga Costa Rica Snorkeling

3. Rent a sea kayak

One of the best ways to explore Tortuga Island in Costa Rica and the surrounding water on your own is by renting a sea kayak.

There are many renting companies located on Isla de la Tortuga and a kayak gives you the mobility and freedom to explore the island on your rhythm.

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4. Take a walk on the island

I strongly recommend that those who are interested in exploring the surroundings take a Tortuga island tour Costa Rica on foot.

The scenery is extremely beautiful; here you can find one of the wildest jungles in Costa Rica.

This walk is a great opportunity to reconnect to nature and escape from the hustle and bustle of big cities.

Tortuga Island Costa Rica
Tortuga Islands Costa Rica

5. Follow the hiking trails from the island

If you’re an adventurer or love nature, you’ll want to stay close to Isla Tortuga Puntarenas province Costa Rica.

You can get one of the best views of the area from the top of the island, but only if you’re willing to hike up there.

On your way to the top, you can admire the island’s impressive flora and fauna, including peccary, a small pig living in the island’s forest.

6. Try a BBQ on the island

Spread across the island there are a few restaurants that serve fresh and delicious seafood as well as wide vegetarian dishes.

Costa Rica Tortuga Island Barbeque
Costa Rica Tortuga Island Barbeque

Besides the delicious and fresh seafood, you can also try some of the most famous Costa Rican dishes like Gallo Pinto and Plantains while Costa Rican coffee goes perfectly after lunch.

7. Buy some souvenirs to support the local community

It is always good to buy a souvenir from the places you like most to take with you a part of that place, of its vibe and positive atmosphere.

Spread along the island’s white sand beaches you will find many souvenir shops from where you can buy everything you can imagine: from sweets to magnets and souvenirs to remind you about this beautiful place.

And besides taking with you a part of the island you also support the local community and Costa Ricans who live from the money received from their handcrafted souvenirs.

Tips for maximizing your time on Tortuga Island

There are a lot of things to do on Isla Tortuga. You might have a hard time choosing which ones you want to do the most.

One thing that really helps me whenever I plan my next travel is - to stay focused and organised! Check out this gorgeous Vacation Planner printable - with pre-trip to-do lists + accommodation and flight research + activities and car-rental + packing lists (empty and even pre-filled) to make sure you don't forget anything when you travel

Vacation Planner 45 pages

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I drop below three main tips to consider when visiting this island:

  • go between December and May when it is the dry season, and you have bt chances for sunny days and a clear sky
  • choose wisely the place where to set your camp. The island is accessible from different towns located on the mainland, so you can choose to stay at Montezuma if you plan to visit the Nicoya Peninsula. If you are heading to San Jose and you really want to see this island, then book a night in Jaco or Puntarenas and take a boat trip from there
  • Explore the island not just perfect your tan. It is a pity to go here and stay at the beach as there are plenty of things to do and see in the area.

Isla Tortuga Costa Rica and water activities

One of the main attractions of the waters around the island is the abundance of marine creatures, which makes from this island one of the best spots to observe marine life.

The most popular activities are snorkeling and scuba diving, both activities giving access to a completely new world, packed with colorful fish, dolphins, manta rays, sharks, and octopuses.

A long time ago, this was where pirates lived. They might have buried treasure here. So when you are looking for fish, also look for treasure.

Right near Isla Tortuga shore, there are three shipwrecks, the perfect hide for colorful fish and other marine creatures.

The experience of exploring these sunken ships is something you definitely don’t have to miss and it is not something you can do every day.

Where to stay on Tortuga Island in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Tortuga island is a place where people are not allowed to live. There are no hotels on the island, so you cannot stay overnight.

You can pick a hotel located in Puntarenas or Jaco where to spend your night and take the first boat trip to get to the island.

Our favorite picks from Puntarenas and Jaco are:

  • Puntarenas: Isla Chiquita Glamping Hotel Costa Rica a unique hotel, a glamping hotel with private bathrooms and amazing sun terraces with a view. The staff, the services, and the glamping itself are amazing, so you definitely have to try it.
  • Jaco: Croc Resort And Casino Costa Rica is definitely the best choice for Jaco as it is located close to the city center offering 4 restaurants, an outdoor pool, 2 bars, and a casino.

Tortuga Island tour Costa Rica

There are many tours to Isla Tortuga Costa Rica, so no matter where you are in Costa Rica, you can search for a tour to this beautiful island.

The most convenient tour is the one that starts from Puntarenas and last for a whole day.

You will explore the coral reefs near the island packed with colorful fish, enjoy a tropical beach lunch and watch the monkeys and the dolphins playing in their natural habitats.

Believe it or not, there are tours to Tortuga Island that leave Manuel Antonio or others from the Paquera area.

There is even a daily tour that starts from San Jose, the country’s capital city, and goes to the most beautiful Costa Rica Islands.

San Jose: Tortuga Island Tour with lunch & Hotel transfer is a full-day tour with hotel pick up and drop off that gets you to this magnificent island without any stress.

You will spend 5 hours on the beach, go snorkeling, watch the dolphins and perfect your tan.

In the tour price you have also included the snorkeling equipment, lunch, soft drinks, guide and coffee.

Once you reach the island, most of the tours on the island start from the main Tortuga beach in Costa Rica.

This beach is very wild and surrounded by beautiful rainforests.

When you are at the beach, you can choose to walk around more and explore the island. You might see some wild animals.

Or, you can choose to go into the water and swim with a snorkel or scuba gear.

Conclusion

Tortuga islands Costa Rica is an oasis located in the middle of the ocean offering amazing scenery and a great place to relax on its golden sandy beaches.

There are plenty of activities to try on this Costa Rica island that makes this island the perfect full-day trip destination from the Gulf of Nicoya.

FAQ

Where is Tortuga Island Costa Rica?

Isle of Tortuga Costa Rica is located on the southeastern shore of the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific coast and it is accessible only by boat.

What is Tortuga Island known for?

Many people do not realize how beautiful Tortuga Island is. There are also many things to do on the island.

Book a trip to snorkeling and scuba diving as the place is packed with many marine creatures, like octopuses, dolphins, stingrays, and angelfish.

Can you stay on Tortuga Island?

No, you cannot spend the night on the islands near Costa Rica. There are no lodges or hotels here.

The good news is that one day is generally enough to enjoy the perfect sandy beach and explore the island and the waters around it.

How long is the boat ride from Jaco to Tortuga Island?

If you want to go to Tortuga Island by boat, it will take about 90 minutes.

On the boat, you will most probably have fresh fruits, fish ceviche, coffee, and cookies.

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation

We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance

We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money, plus COVID coverage.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.