Isla Tortuga is a postcard-perfect paradise nestled in lush green foliage and white sandy beaches. It’s fringed by gem blue waters and swaying palm trees.
Costa Rica offers a vast range of magnificent islands to visit. One highlight is Tortuga Island, located southeast of the Nicoya Peninsula. To reach the island, you would need to take an hour’s boat trip.
There are many day tours offered to the island with either catamaran yachts or speed boats. Our day trip to Isla Tortuga was one of my favourite days in Costa Rica, and I wanted to share the beauty of that island with you!
I’ve put together this Isla Tortuga tour guide to help you plan your trip to Tortuga, including logistics on how to get there, what to expect, prices and more. So let’s jump straight in!
Drone shot of the main beach at Isla Tortuga
Getting to Tortuga Island
Isla Tortuga, Costa Rica tours are famous for their day trips, with boats and catamarans leaving daily. Day excursions leave from Montezuma, Puntarenas and Jaco on the mainland.
The duration of your boat trip to the island will vary depending on your departure site. Tortuga Island is open all year-round, welcoming crowds during the peak season from late December through to January.
Options to tour Isla Tortuga
We opted for a one day, all-inclusive activity tour from Montezuma. A delightful day spent in complete bliss and absolute luxury!
Palm trees and sunbeds on Isla Tortuga
To get to the island from Montezuma, it will cost around $50 USD, or about $70 USD from Santa Teresa. Keep in mind, this also includes a 45-minute transfer by minibus.
Along the way there, and back, we experienced breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. During our boat ride, we even saw a humpback whale jumping and playing around in the sea!
They told us we might be able to see whales but we didn’t really believe them, assuming it’s what they tell all tourists, but we were surprised and happy when we did really spot one.
| READ MORE: THE ULTIMATE COSTA RICA BUCKET LIST |
The whale we spotted while sailing to Isla Tortuga from Montezuma
Do you need travel insurance for Costa Rica?
After my personal experience spending two nights in a private hospital in Tenerife, and having to pay for it out of pocket (it wasn’t cheap), I always recommend getting travel insurance.
You might not end up needing it, but for a small fee you can travel without worries. Personally, I suggest getting your travel insurance with Heymondo.
Heymondo offers tailor made travel insurance, providing the best value for money for your specific trip. You can also buy it once you’re already abroad and have forgotten about it before flying (which, if you’re anything like me, is quite likely).
Besides the usual cancellation, medical expenses, luggage coverage and general travel insurance services, Heymondo also has a 24/7 doctor chat and instant assistance through their app.
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The main beach on Isla Tortuga
Day trip options to Isla Tortuga
Tortuga Island tours offer the perfect destination for a single day trip. Cruises typically run from Santa Teresa, Montezuma and Jaco on Costa Rica’s mainland.
The tours run every day and there are lots of different companies that offer them so we just booked ours once we arrived in Santa Teresa. However if you prefer to have everything planned before you arrive you can also book it online.
I’ve listed below some fantastic day tours to Isla Tortuga, that offer the complete package and experience we had, which you can book online beforehand:
Top down drone shot of the main beach at Isla Tortuga
Isla Tortuga Snorkelling Tour
This tour takes a maximum of 7 people, making it perfect for families or groups of friends who want a semi-private experience.
During this tour you will be able to admire the beautiful Costa Rican coastline, you will then snorkel at Rainbow Rock and end the tour relaxing on the beach in Isla Tortuga. A perfect day if you ask me!
Click here for the latest prices and availability for your Isla Tortuga Snorkelling Tour!
Catamaran Isla Tortuga island tour from Jaco
Find yourself the ultimate island adventure on this Catamaran tour from Jaco. Along the way, enjoy the beauties of the Gulf Islands. Experience a fun and exciting banana boat ride and a 5-hour Tortuga Island excursion.
The quintessential way to spend your day in paradise.
Click here to book your Catamaran Tour from Jaco
The main beach in Isla Tortuga
Top island attractions on Isla Tortuga
Tortuga Island is actually made up of two islands. Tolinga and Alcatraz Island. It’s referred to as Isla Tortuga or Turtle Island, named after the island’s native wildlife residents.
Once you arrive at Isla Tortugas beaches, you will be welcomed by laid out lounge chairs and umbrellas that are available to rent.
Whether guests choose to spend the day basking in the sun or want to hike one of the forested trails, or both, they can accomplish their desires easily within a day.
| READ MORE: 10 EPIC DAYS IN COSTA RICA |
Enjoying the clear water of Isla Tortuga
Tortuga Island offers gorgeous beach days, where visitors can enjoy themselves snorkelling and swim to their hearts’ content. Other popular tourist activities offered on the island are banana boat rides and jet skis.
Adventure-seekers and hiking enthusiasts, you might enjoy hiking up one of the many gorgeous mountain trails and relish panoramic views on the way up.
Just make sure to ask someone where you can actually hike, as there are fences that separate private property to where tourists can stay.
The island is surrounded by a volcanic reef, home to an abundance of wildlife. Snorkelling or diving in these waters offers the opportunity to see spinner dolphins, moray eels (they’re rather shy), and some shipwrecks.
The stand up paddles and kayaks you can rent on Isla Tortuga
Our Isla Tortuga tour
We did a Isla Tortuga Snorkelling Tour, which did three stops – two for snorkelling in the cliffs surrounding Isla Tortuga, and one for lunch and relaxing on the beach on actual Tortuga Island.
We were shown the best spots for snorkelling in the crystal clear waters, home to extraordinary tropical beauties. We were lucky enough to spot also some Manta rays!
After a spectacular snorkelling experience, our tour led us to a white sand beach where drinks and fruits were served before a delightful lunch. After lunch, the afternoon was ours to enjoy and explore.
Note: For any scuba diving lovers, there is a scuba diving club you can join to explore the tropical waters a little deeper.
Click here to book your own Isla Tortuga snorkelling adventure!
Some of the fish we saw while snorkelling in Isla Tortuga
Where to stay before your Tortuga Island tour
Keep in mind, the island is only accessible via day tours, and there is no accommodation offered on Isla Tortuga, Costa Rica. I’ve listed below some of the places we stayed at in mainland Costa Rica before our paradise island tour.
Best place to stay in Montezuma – Sollevante Casitas Montezuma
If you want to avoid travelling too much on mainland Costa Rica, and prefer being directly where the boats for Isla Tortuga set off, you should consider staying in Montezuma.
The town is very small but also very cute, and Sollevante Casitas is a great place to stay. They have an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, do I need to say anything else?
Click here to see the latest prices and availability at Sollevante Casitas Montezuma!
(Video) Tortuga Island / Isla Tortuga
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Best budget accommodation in Santa Teresa – Lost Boyz Hostel
I absolutely loved Lost Boyz. It’s one of my favourite hostels I have stayed at. It’s not particularly fancy, but it has a very friendly and chill vibe.
Both the dorms and common areas are clean, there are lockers for valuables and it’s in a great location in Santa Teresa.
Click here to book your stay at Lost Boyz Hostel!
Best mid-range accommodation in Santa Teresa – Lucero Surf Retreats
Our friends who didn’t want to stay in a hostel were staying at Lucero Surf Retreats and they loved it. Clean and spacious rooms, as well as a pool where you can relax if you don’t fancy swimming with ocean waves.
Click here to book your stay at Lucero Surf Retreats!
Surfing in Santa Teresa Beach at sunset, Costa Rica
Final thoughts on doing a Isla Tortuga day tour
From what I got to experience from this spectacular trip, Isla Tortuga is a beautiful island paradise escape. It offers pristine stretches of beaches and blue ocean waters, ideal for spending the day frolicking in the water.
Your boat trip there alone will leave you with a fantastic experience as you sail across the Gulf of Nicoya and explore its wonders. Once landing on a pristine, picturesque island, the day is yours.
Explore the island’s biodiversity, relax on the gorgeous beach, bask in the sun – make your leisurely day a day to remember!
Looking for more Costa Rica travel tips? Check out these guides:
- Learn to surf in Santa Teresa
- Discover the Blue Falls of Costa Rica
- Explore Catarata del Toro waterfall
- Explore the rainforest in Tortuguero National Park
- Where to go rafting in Costa Rica