Located on the southeastern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula is a little island known by the locals as Isla Tortuga. A true tropical gem, with its soft-sanded beaches and sparkling waters, Tortuga Island is a favorite for tourists nearby costal towns such as Jacó and Santa Teresa. In this article, we’ll give you an exact breakdown on how to get to Tortuga Island, Costa Rica, as well as everything else you need to know about this sun-soaked paradise.
How To Get To Tortuga Island
The only way to really get to Tortuga Island is by boat. The ride’s length will depend on where you are departing from:
Jacó /Puntatenas: 90 Minutes (by boat)
Montezuma: 45 Minutes (by boat)
Santa Teresa/Malpais (shuttle & boat)
The ride itself is an unforgettable adventure. Along the way, you will have the chance to see whales, dolphins, sea turtles and plenty more of the Peninsula’s sensational marine life. It’s also good to note that most charters to Tortuga Island offer day-tours to the island as well, and we at Localbird Tours offer a large variety of both private and non-private options. From complimentary drinks and BBQ lunches to snorkeling and scuba diving adventures in the stunning Pacific waters (more on that later), a day-tour is the best way to experience Isla Tortuga.
Things To Know About Tortuga Island
One important fact to note about Tortuga Island is that there are no hotels, villas or vacation rentals located on the island. That’s because Isla Tortuga is actually a protected area of Costa Rica and its conservation status prohibits any permanent structures on the island. And yes, while it does make visiting Tortuga Island a bit more complicated, we can vouch that the end-result justifies it: a pristine, tropical wonderland for all to enjoy.
Now, while you can’t stay on Tortuga Island, that doesn’t mean it’s hard to get there. In fact, Tortuga Island is highly accessible nowadays, and plenty of towns on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast offer ferries and day tours to the island. While large towns like Punteras and Jacó offer 90-minute rides to Isla Tortuga, we definitely recommend you consider Santa Teresa as your destination of choice. An up-and-coming beach town, Santa Teresa boasts a vibrant, yet relaxing culture and nightlife, plenty of other amazing adventures, and is surrounded by some of the best waterfalls and beaches in all of Costa Rica.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Tortuga Island is during Costa Rica’s dry season (December – April). With clear skies, bright sunny days, and the sparkling blue waters sitting at the perfect temperature for a dip, this is the recommended time to visit the island. With that said, don’t think that the other months are bad options in contrast. While they definitely come with some rainy days, even the offseason should have enough sunny ones to permit a trip to Tortuga Island – and it will probably be cheaper then too, as it’s in the off season!
While the untouched nature of the island is the top priority, there are some basic facilities available on the island, such as restrooms, picnic tables and even some gift shops. For a small fee, you can even rent umbrellas and beach chairs. If you’re looking to get a bit, there should also be some cute BBQ establishments lining the shores, and even a few huts selling yummy coconut cocktails.
Things To Do On Tortuga Island
There are tons of amazing activities and adventures to pick from on Tortuga Island, and some of the most popular include:
With it being the most popular activity at Tortuga Island, most day tours to the island offer a complimentary snorkel option. The waters surrounding the island boat an underwater wonderland that’s teeming with colorful coral and volcanic reef, as well as an abundance of marine life, such as eagle rays, angelfish, moray eels, and more. Keep an eye out for sea urchins though, as they are known to reside on the rocks below.
Believe it or not, Tortuga Island is known in the scuba community as a “wreck” diving hub, as the surrounding waters are home to 3 iconic shipwrecks. With more of the nearby towns offering high-quality diving trips, it truly is the perfect place for those looking to explore not only ship ruins, but also the amazing marine life calling these wrecks home.
With plenty of rental options available on the island and water visibility reaching as deep as 30 meters, a sea kayak can provide the best way to explore the island at your own leisure.
Exploring the Tortuga Island scenery on foot is also highly popular. There are plenty of great trails across the island, and you might be lucky to even spot some of the island’s wildlife while exploring. Ask your tour guide, and they will be more than happy to point you in the direction of the best trails. If you’re lucky, they might even be able to provide you with a map!
Most day tours offer a complimentary lunch, where you can enjoy famous Costa Rican dishes like gallo pinto and plantains with some delicious grilled fish, chicken and meats. If you’re still hungry, there are are the BBQ eateries that line the island shores. With that said, it’s safe to say that nobody leaves Tortgua Island with an empty belly!
We hope this blog helped you figure out how to get to Tortuga Island, Costa Rica, as well as introduce you to all the potential adventures awaiting you there! Our online concierge services are more than happy to help you plan any part of your trip to Tortuga Island, whether it be the transportation or one of the many amazing activities available. Ask us anything!