Visiting Tortuga Island Costa Rica on an Isla Tortuga Tour: Complete Guide

panoramic of Tortuga Island Costa Rica

Tortuga Island Costa Rica is a beautiful island located off the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in the Puntarenas Province. Getting its name from its turtle shape, the island offers a tropical paradise of crystal clear azure waters, plush white sand beach and a plethora of marine life.

Isla Tortuga Costa Rica is best explored by an organized Isla Tortuga tour that promises a full day packed with snorkelling, swimming, hiking, sunbathing and just some all-around fun. There’s something for everyone!

If you’re interested in visiting Tortuga Isla on an organized tour, there are plenty of options available. Tours typically include transportation to and from the island, as well as a guide who can show you around and point out the best spots for snorkelling, wildlife spotting, or simply hanging in a lounger with a beverage or two.

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When planning your trip, keep in mind that Isla Tortuga is only accessible by boat and has limited amenities (no hotels here!). Tours typically depart from Jaco, the port of Puntarenas, Montezuma or nearby Paquera.

This guide on visiting Tortuga Island Costa Rica will give you the lowdown on the island’s location, how to get there, the best tours, things to do, the best time to visit, what to pack and more! No matter how you choose to spend your time on Isla Tortuga, you’re sure to have a wonderful day in this beautiful corner of Costa Rica.

Check out this top-rated Tortuga Island Day Trip from Jaco

About Isla Tortuga Costa Rica

drone shot of the main beach on Tortuga Island Costa Rica
The Main Beach on Tortuga Island Costa Rica

Isla Tortuga is a relatively small yet paradisical island, measuring just 3/4 of a mile (1.2km) in length and 1/3 of a mile (0.5km) across at its widest point. If you look at the island as a whole, you can subtly make out a turtle shape, giving it its name, Tortuga (Turtle) Island.

Of course, the many turtles that call the island home add to this name, too. Despite its small size, Tortuga Island Costa Rica packs a punch when it comes to natural beauty and things to do.

Ever seen the movie ‘The Beach‘? Yeah, that’s the vibe we are talking about here. Tortuga Island Costa Rica is known for its white sand beaches, lush jungle vegetation and abundant marine life.

The island is also a great place to enjoy some beach time with plenty of beach umbrellas and lounge chairs available for rent. If you get hungry, there are a few small food stalls serving up fresh seafood, tortillas, fruit and other snacks. And don’t forget to quench your thirst with a refreshing Coco Frio (cold coconut)!

Isla Tortuga Costa Rica can only be experienced in a day trip format since the island has no hotels or accommodations to speak of. Besides the small beach cafes, you can find a large souvenir shop near the treeline.

When visiting Tortuga Island, you will notice a smaller neighbouring island called Alcatraz Island. This is where your boat will stop for pictures in front of a large arched rock jutting out from the sea before heading onwards toward Tortuga Island (otherwise called Tolinga Island).

Where is Tortuga Island Costa Rica?

Tortuga Island Costa Rica is located in the Puntarenas Province, just off the south coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. The island is about 3.5 miles (5.6km) offshore from the mainland town of Paquera and can only be accessed by boat.

map of Tortuga Island Costa Rica

How to Get to Isla Tortuga Costa Rica

There are no flights to Tortuga Island Costa Rica, so the only way to reach the island is by boat.

From Mainland Costa Rica

There are a few different ways to get to Tortuga Island Costa Rica depending on your location. If you’re coming from Jaco or the port of Puntarenas, there are tour operators that offer transportation to and from the island.

The ride from Jaco to Tortuga Island takes about 90 minutes, one way. And a boat from Puntarenas Port to Isla Tortuga Costa Rica takes about 60 minutes (one way).

rocky shoreline on the mainland before boarding a boat to Isla Tortuga Costa Rica

From Nicoya Peninsula

If you are already located on the Nicoya Peninsula in towns like Santa Teresa or Montezuma, it is likely that you will have to arrange transportation to the Paquera’s Los Organos Beach to catch a quick 20-min boat ride to Isla Tortuga.

Whether you already have a rental car for exploring Costa Rica, or you need to arrange a shuttle with your hotel, most tours will depart from here.

Best Time to Visit Tortuga Island
Costa Rica

view from one of the lookouts on Tortuga Island Costa Rica
Dry Vegetation on Tortuga Island during February

Dry Season

The best time to visit Tortuga Island Costa Rica is during the dry season, between December and April. The days during this period of time are dry and sunny. However, the island can be busy during this time so if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, visiting during the shoulder months of November and May is a great option.

Wet Season (Green Season)

Visiting Isla Tortuga Costa Rica in the rainy season (May-October) is also possible but not ideal. Keep in mind that some tours and activities may be cancelled due to bad weather and a day snorkelling in the sea may offer lower visibility to see the marine life and a chance of periodic rainfall.

Best Isla Tortuga Tour Options

people lining up for a Isla Tortuga Tour
Visitors on an Isla Tortuga Tour

There are plenty of tour companies offering day trips to Tortuga Island Costa Rica. Most Tortuga Island Costa Rica tours will include round-trip transportation to the island, snorkelling gear, lunch, non-alcoholic drinks, and a bilingual guide. Because of its remote location, A Tortuga Island tour run for a minimum of 6 hours, and most likely 7-8 hours, it’s a full day of fun!

Isla Tortuga Costa Rica tour prices will vary depending on the company but typically range from $65-85 USD per person from locations on the Nicoya Peninsula or $125-210 USD for trips from the mainland.

Recommended Tortuga Island Costa Rica tour options:

From Jaco: Tortuga Island Day Trip

From Puntarenas Port: Full-Day Isla Tortuga Tour

From Paquera (Nicoya Peninsula): Isla Tortuga Tour with Snorkeling

Things to Do on Tortuga Island
Costa Rica

drone shot of the main beach on Tortuga Island

There’s no shortage of things to do on Isla Tortuga Costa Rica. The island is best known for its crystal clear waters which make for great snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming.

There are also plenty of beach loungers spread across the plush white-sand beach where you can relax in the sun or enjoy a refreshing cocktail from one of the beach bars (make sure to bring cash!).

If you’re looking to explore more of the island, you can enjoy the hiking trails that wind up through the jungle to the top of the island. Make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife, they are everywhere! The view is breathtaking from the lookout, so take some time to relish the sight of neighbouring islands and the Gulf of Nicoya beyond.

Or try your hand at a game of beach volleyball and make new friends.

Last but not least, check out the souvenir shop for a way to commemorate your trip to Island Tortuga, because it’s sure to be memorable. Here are a few fun things to do on Tortuga Island Costa Rica:

Snorkelling + Scuba Diving

rock pertuding out of the blue water for snorkelling in Tortuga Island Costa Rica
The main spot near Tortuga Island for snorkelling

Tortuga Island is surrounded by volcanic reefs, and many colourful fish and marine life call it home. The water is crystal clear (especially in the dry season) making Tortuga Island Costa Rica snorkeling a must-do activity on the island. During your Isla Tortuga tour, you will be taken to a large rock just offshore for the best snorkelling conditions and, of course, your equipment will be provided by the company.

Keep an eye out for turtles (I spotted a couple!), dolphins, and plenty more. You can also ask your guide to take you to the sunken shipwreck for a really cool snorkelling experience. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, scuba diving is also an option at an additional cost.

Watersports

boat speeding through the water towards Turtle Island Costa Rica

It’s no wonder that this tropical paradise offers watersports galore. The water here is calm and beautifully clear. There are a couple of different local companies that provide watersports when you arrive on the island during your Isla Tortuga tour at an additional charge.

Depending on your sense of adventure, you can rent stand-up paddleboards (SUP), kayaks or peddle boats for something more relaxing, or get your adrenaline pumping with a jet ski or banana boating experience.

General pricing for watersports:

  • Kayak (30min): $5 USD
  • Single SUP (30min): $10 USD
  • Peddle Boat (30min): $12 USD
  • Jet Ski (30min): $50 USD

Island Activities

beach cafe on Tortuga Island Costa Rica

Tortuga Island itself offers some activities of its own besides watersports. Need to unwind on your Costa Rica holiday? Isla Tortuga has you covered. Want to get your heart pumping under the sun? Tortuga Island has that too.

Once you arrive on the island, you can rent a lounger and umbrella from one of the beach shacks, they usually range in price from $7-10 USD per day. Grab a Coco Frio with rum (cold coconut) or coco loco (coconut cream with tequila and rum) and you have an exquisite day of relaxation. Alcoholic drinks cost around $6USD each and are in addition to your Isla Tortuga tour.

For something a bit more exciting, grab a volleyball and hit the sand courts located along the length of the shoreline. A great way to meet new friends or connect with your fellow travellers.

Hiking on Tortuga Island Costa Rica

view of water and jungle from the top of a Tortuga island tour
View from one of the Isla Tortuga hiking lookouts

Back towards the treeline from the main Isla Tortuga beach, you can find the start of the Tortugas Eco Tour trail. This trail leads you up through the jungle on a dirt path to a couple of spectacular viewpoints. Make sure to keep a lookout for wildlife (especially at the beginning) as they are plentiful. I saw deer, a giant iguana, and many more.

the trail itself takes about 45 minutes (one way) to complete with a moderate elevation gain. Not recommended for visitors with mobility issues or who aren’t quite sure-footed since the dirt path presents quite a few tripping hazards (I can attest to this!).

Where to Stay near La Tortuga Island Costa Rica

distance shot of Tortuga Island Isla
Tortuga Island Costa Rica at a distance

Tortuga Island itself does not have any accommodation options of its own. That said, the main points of departure for Tortuga Island are via Jaco, or the port town of Paquera on the Nicoya Peninsula (most stay in either Santa Teresa or Montezuma).

Here are a couple of recommended nearby hotels for you:

Best Santa Teresa Hotels

Somos via Booking.com

Somos

Best For | Digital Nomads, Surfers

Hotel Tropico Latino via Booking.com

Hotel Tropico Latino

Best For | Yogis, Couples, Small Families

Best Montezuma Hotels

Hotel Nya via Booking.com

Hotel Nya

Best For | Couples, Small Families, Central

Hotel El Jardin via Booking.com

Hotel El Jardin

Best For | Couples, Close to Beach

Best Jaco Hotels

Hotel Mar de Luz via Booking.com

Hotel Mar de Luz

Best For | Small Families or Groups

Selina Jaco via Booking.com

Selina Jaco

Best For | Digital Nomads, Young Travelers

What to Pack for Turtle Island
Costa Rica

When packing for a day trip to Costa Rica Turtle Island, be sure to bring plenty of reef-safe sunscreen, a hat, swimwear, snacks and a reusable water bottle. You’ll also want to bring cash for any souvenirs or drinks you may want to purchase on the island.

And don’t forget your camera. Tortuga Island is one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica and you’ll want to be sure to capture all of the memories. A waterproof GoPro is perfect for commemorating your time spend underwater with all of the colourful marine life, too!

Isla Tortuga tour boats on the shoreline

Insurance for Costa Rica Tortuga Island

Tortuga Island Costa Rica is known for water and jungle adventures, and with that, comes the risk of fall, injury or accident. Don’t be left with huge hospital bills and protect yourself with the right travel insurance.

Travel insurance is one of those things I hope you never have to use. But in case you do, you’ll want reliable insurance on your side. Plus, it’s such a small cost for peace of mind. Please, don’t leave home without it!

I used HeyMondo insurance on my trip to Costa Rica and can recommend it.

What’s great about HeyMondo:

  • No out-of-pocket fees
  • 24/7 doctors available through their handy app to answer all of your questions
  • Covers travellers from any country in the world
  • Offers short-term, long-term and multi-trip annual plans (I recommend single-trip insurance for Costa Rica)
  • Covers trip cancellation – very useful these days!

>>> Find the perfect travel insurance for you. (and get an exclusive 5% discount for being my reader!)


Tortuga Island Costa Rica Conclusion

A visit to Isla Tortuga Costa Rica is a must-do while travelling along your Costa Rica itinerary. The island is home to a stunning white sand beach, crystal clear waters perfect for snorkelling and plenty of activities to keep you entertained like jet ski, banana boating, hiking and beach volleyball.

Be sure to book an Isla Tortuga tour in advance and come prepared with cash for any souvenirs or drinks you may want. If you are travelling from Jaco, this is the best Tortuga Island tour Costa Rica offers.

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