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!
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!
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.
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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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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’s one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, and it’s easy to see why.
Isla Tortuga 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
- The best canopy & zipline tours in Costa Rica