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How to get to Tortuguero from PUERTO VIEJO, Cahuita & Limón by bus, shuttle or boat

Are you traveling in Costa Rica and wondering how to get to Tortuguero from PUERTO VIEJO (SHUTTLE), CAHUITA (SHUTTLE) or Limón? I can help you with the price and transportation details including transfer, bus, and boat, to make your journey hassle-free.

Here is what you will find:

Tortuguero National Park

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Tortuguero is a Costa Rican National Park that is divided into a forest area, another of lagoons and the beach part. It can only be accessed by boat, and this makes the place better preserved and respects its nature.

The climate is hot and humid, with an average annual temperature of 25°C and 30°C; so I recommend that you bring light and comfortable clothing for hiking and exploring the park.

It is also the area of Costa Rica that has the most extensive biological variety and is the most important zone in the western half of the Caribbean for green turtle nesting; although other sea turtles also lay their eggs on its beaches, such as the leatherback and the hawksbill.

Jaguars, crocodiles and caimans, poisonous frogs (beautiful colors!), raccoons, fishing bats, some species of monkeys (such as the red and white-faced monkey), manatees, and many more animals live in Tortuguero.

How to get to Tortuguero from Puerto Viejo, Cahuita & Limón

To go to Tortuguero, there are three options:

  1. the fastest and most comfortable is to hire a minibus + boat service from PUERTO VIEJO (SHUTTLE) AND CAHUITA (SHUTTLE)
  2. then go by boat independently (more practical than the third),
  3. and the cheapest is to go by bus (many transfers)

Next, I will tell you all the options step by step:

GETting TO TORTUGUERO from Puerto Viejo & Cahuita by Shuttle + Boat

This is the most comfortable and practical option of the three, and the total duration of the journey is 5 hours. A minibus will pick you up at the hotel and from there it will take you to the Moín pier (near Limón), from where you will go directly to Tortuguero.

If you are not exactly staying in Puerto Viejo, but your hotel is in Cahuita, Manzanillo or Punta Uva, you can also ask to be picked up or taken there.

👉 Minibus + boat prices to Puerto Viejo or to Tortuguero 

HOW TO GET from Puerto Viejo & Cahuita TO TORTUGUERO BY BUS

This is cheaper, but involves changing more transport. The route is Puerto Viejo > Limón > Guápiles > Cariari > La Pavona > Tortuguero (yep, there are a lot of changes and it’s scary, but, within the hassle, it’s done faster than it seems).

If you decide to choose this option, this is what you have to do:

1. Puerto Viejo/cahuita > Limón

You take the bus from Puerto Viejo or Cahuita to Limón. It costs 1970 CRC and takes an hour or an hour and a half.

Important: you have to change terminal to transfer. The next terminal is next door (don’t ask for a taxi), just ask the driver or the people and they will guide you.

2. Limón > Guápiles

Once there, you get on the bus that takes you to Guápiles, it costs about 3,200 CRC per person and the tour lasts a little less than two hours.

3. Guápiles > Cariari

When you arrive in Guápiles, the bus to Cariari leaves from the same terminal, it will cost you 520 CRC.

4. Cariari > La Pavona

Once in Cariari, you have to go to La Pavona, which is the pier from where the boat leaves to get to Tortuguero. If you buy the ticket on the bus it will cost you 4,000 CRC, the price includes bus and boat + suitcase.

Super important information: the last bus leaves at 3:00 p.m., you have to be there before. If it happens to you like me, that you miss the last bus and you start asking people if they know of a cheap hotel to spend the night, keep in mind that it is most likely that they will recommend a hotel for hookups and prostitution (to me They recommended 3 different ones until I found a hotel just to sleep).

5. La Pavona > Tortuguero

Finally you are going to enjoy the boat ride to Tortuguero! The landscape is very beautiful and if you are lucky you may see some little animals. On the way back I saw a sloth, an alligator and different birds.

The ticket purchased at the Tortuguero pier costs 2,500 CRC with a suitcase.

como llegar a tortuguero desde puerto viejo en bus y barco


This option is much more comfortable but a bit more expensive:

1. You have to go to Limón by bus.

2. From there go to the Moín pier by bus (it is next to the side).

3. A boat leaves at the pier at 10.00 in the morning and in 4 hours you are in Torturguero. The trip costs 20,000 CRC and although it may seem expensive at first glance, it is really worth it.

como llegar a tortuguero desde puerto viejo en bus y barco

The total difference in price is not that big, the landscape has been told to me that it is very beautiful and you save yourself the hassle of having to take infinite buses to get to La Pavona.

Of course, if you opt for this option, be well informed about where the tickets are bought or if they have to be bought the day before (I think so).

Tours and activities in Costa Rica

Costa Rica offers very diverse activities, and its great attraction is the nature that floods the entire country. Here you can learn to surf and scuba dive, learn about its fauna, go rafting in its rivers and visit its volcanoes.

I leave you a list with some of the excursions and activities that you can do during your stay:

What to do in Tortuguero

As you can see from the activities that I describe below, the excursions in Tortuguero are focused on exploring its canals, hiking and learning about its fauna.

There are different guided tours available; but, if you feel like something more independent, you can also go for a walk on your own.

Boat tour

It is a tour that you do with a guide and a small group of people (approximately 6 in total). The boat is small and allows you to be more in contact with the environment, the canals and the animals that you see along the way.

I recommend that you choose the first thing in the morning, since the weather is cooler and the animals come out more; if you go during midday they will be hidden due to the heat.

Night trekking

This activity seemed very nice. You don’t get too far from the town, but you get to see a part of the jungle that is very different from what you see during the day. The best thing is to go looking with the flashlight as an explorer 😃

The animals vary and you can see snakes, frogs, small nocturnal mammals, armadillos,… I recommend that you go around the beach, since with luck you may see a turtle; and, even if you don’t come across any, you can enjoy a starry sky like a movie.

spawning sea turtles

The turtles nest 3 or four times a year, and 4 different types of sea turtles come to lay their eggs on the beaches of Tortuguero. What they do is the following:

1) The mother turtle comes to the beach at night to dig a hole in the sand, lays between 80 and 120 eggs, and then runs away before the predators arrive.

2) 45 to 70 days later, the baby turtles hatch and run off to the sea. This seems very easy but it is an odyssey, because there are some that go to the side that they do not touch, others that are preyed upon by the animals that live there, or sometimes the waves are strong and throw them back onto the sand.

3) Once in the water they begin to swim like damned so that they are not eaten by any seagull or some bug that is there.

see the channels from a kayak

If you want to explore the channels of the lagoon, but you are more adventurous, I recommend that you do the excursion by kayak instead of by boat, or that you complement it.

You can rent the kayak and go independently, but I strongly recommend that you go with a guide; since you can get lost or capsize, and crocodiles and alligators live there in the wild.

Hike to Cerro Tortuguero

Cerro Tortuguero is an extinct volcano that is located about 5.5km from the town. Although not particularly high, the summit (standing 119m above sea level) is the highest peak in the region.

The day begins with a boat ride (about 10 or 15 minutes) to the beginning of the path that leads to Cerro Tortuguero. The walk lasts a total of 2 hours and at its highest point you can see the views of the lagoons, the jungle, the town of Tortuguero and the sea.

El Gavilán Trail + beach

This trail is very flat and does not harbor any difficulties. It only has one dangerous aspect: jaguars. So, you have to be careful not to go too far.

The trees are marked so that you don’t stray from the safe area, but you have to be alert; since you can easily pass (I passed MANY kilometers, and I found a giant turtle on the beach that had been preyed on by a jaguar).

You can do the return on the beach; in this way you see another facet of the park, and you may even meet a little turtle (I found one in a dog’s mouth! Luckily I managed to get it to spit it out and the little turtle ran towards the sea).

Enjoy your stay in Tortuguero and have a great time!

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