Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

How To Go From Puerto Viejo To Tortuguero


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Bettina Caston



Welcome to the beautiful country of Costa Rica, where natural wonders abound and adventure awaits at every turn. Located in Central America, Costa Rica is known for its lush rainforests, stunning beaches, and abundant wildlife. It is a haven for eco-tourists and nature enthusiasts, offering a wide array of activities and destinations to explore.


If you find yourself in the vibrant coastal town of Puerto Viejo, you may be tempted to venture out and discover the nearby natural paradise of Tortuguero. Situated on the Caribbean coast, Tortuguero is famous for its pristine beaches and abundant marine life, including four species of sea turtles that nest there.


Traveling from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero can be an exciting and memorable journey, filled with breathtaking scenery and unique experiences. In this article, we will explore three different options to help you reach Tortuguero from Puerto Viejo: by bus, by car, and by boat. Each option offers its own advantages and allows you to customize your travel experience based on your preferences.


Option 1: By Bus

Traveling from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero by bus is a convenient and cost-effective option. The journey typically involves taking multiple buses and a boat ride, but it allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic route.


First, you’ll need to take a bus from Puerto Viejo to the town of Cariari. Buses depart regularly from the main bus terminal in Puerto Viejo, and the journey takes approximately 3 to 4 hours. Once you reach Cariari, you will need to transfer to another bus that will take you to the small village of La Pavona.


The bus ride from Cariari to La Pavona takes around 1 to 2 hours, depending on traffic conditions. La Pavona is the departure point for the boat ride to Tortuguero, and there are several tour operators offering boat transfers. The boat ride to Tortuguero takes approximately 1 to 2 hours and offers stunning views of the surrounding rainforest and waterways.


It’s important to note that bus and boat schedules may vary, so it’s advisable to check the current timetable in advance to plan your trip accordingly. It’s also recommended to arrive early at each departure point to ensure you have a seat on the bus or boat, as they can get crowded during peak travel seasons.


The bus and boat combination is an affordable option, with tickets ranging from $10 to $20 per person, depending on the season and the tour operator. It’s a popular choice among budget-conscious travelers and those who enjoy the experience of local transportation.


Overall, traveling by bus from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero provides a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture and scenery along the way. It may require some planning and patience, but the journey is part of the adventure and allows you to see the diverse landscapes of Costa Rica.


Option 2: By Car

If you prefer the flexibility and convenience of having your own transportation, traveling from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero by car is a great option. It allows you to set your own pace and explore the stunning landscapes of Costa Rica at your leisure.


The route from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero requires driving through various towns and crossing several rivers. From Puerto Viejo, you will first head north towards the town of Guapiles. The drive takes approximately 2 to 3 hours, depending on traffic conditions and the speed at which you choose to travel.


Once in Guapiles, you will need to follow the signs to Cariari. The road to Cariari is relatively well-maintained and offers beautiful views of the countryside. The drive from Guapiles to Cariari takes around 1 to 2 hours.


In Cariari, you will reach the final destination point before Tortuguero, which is the village of La Pavona. From here, you will need to park your car in a designated area and take a boat transfer to Tortuguero. There are secure parking facilities available in La Pavona for a small fee.


The boat ride from La Pavona to Tortuguero takes approximately 1 to 2 hours, depending on weather conditions and water levels. It is a scenic journey through the canals of Tortuguero National Park, offering opportunities to spot wildlife such as monkeys, caimans, and a variety of bird species.


It’s important to note that the road conditions in some parts of the route may not be in optimal condition, and caution should be exercised while driving. It’s also advisable to have a 4×4 vehicle, especially during the rainy season when some roads might be muddy or flooded.


Having your own car gives you the freedom to make stops along the way, explore lesser-known attractions, and take in the stunning landscapes at your own pace. However, it’s recommended to have a GPS or a reliable map to navigate the route, as some areas may have limited signage.


Overall, traveling from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero by car provides flexibility and the opportunity to explore the picturesque countryside of Costa Rica on your own terms. It’s a convenient option for those who prefer to have control over their travel itinerary and enjoy the freedom of the open road.


Option 3: By Boat

If you’re looking for a unique and scenic way to travel from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero, then consider taking the boat route. This option allows you to experience the natural beauty of Costa Rica’s waterways and offers a thrilling adventure along the rivers and canals.


The boat journey from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero starts at the small village of Moin, located near the port city of Limon. From Puerto Viejo, you can take a taxi or shuttle service to Moin, which takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes.


In Moin, you will find several boat operators offering tours and transfers to Tortuguero. The boat ride to Tortuguero takes around 3 to 4 hours, depending on the water conditions and the number of stops along the way. This scenic journey takes you through rivers, canals, and lush mangrove forests, providing opportunities to spot wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, and various bird species.


It’s important to note that the boat ride can be bumpy at times, especially during the rainy season when water levels are higher. It’s recommended to bring a raincoat or waterproof jacket to protect yourself from occasional splashes. Additionally, sunscreen and mosquito repellent are essential, as the sun can be intense and the mosquito activity high in the area.


The boat transfer from Moin to Tortuguero offers a fantastic opportunity to appreciate the natural wonders of Costa Rica’s waterways and observe the unique ecosystem of Tortuguero National Park. Upon arrival in Tortuguero, you can explore the small village and visit the local turtle conservation projects, as well as enjoy the stunning beaches that are famous for hosting sea turtle nesting.


While the boat option may take longer than other modes of transportation, it provides a memorable and immersive experience that showcases the natural beauty of Costa Rica. It’s a popular choice for those seeking adventure and a deeper connection with the country’s rich biodiversity.


It’s advisable to book your boat transfer in advance, especially during high season, as availability can be limited. It’s also recommended to check the current schedule and weather conditions before planning your trip in order to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.


Overall, traveling from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero by boat offers a unique and unforgettable experience. It allows you to witness the stunning landscapes and wildlife of Costa Rica’s waterways while immersing yourself in the country’s natural wonders. If you’re up for an adventure, this option is definitely worth considering.



Whether you choose to travel from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero by bus, car, or boat, you’re in for a memorable journey filled with incredible landscapes, diverse wildlife, and the enchantment of Costa Rica’s natural beauty.


The bus option offers affordability and a chance to experience local transportation, allowing you to soak up the atmosphere of the region. The car option provides the convenience of having your own vehicle, allowing you to explore at your own pace and make stops along the way. The boat option, on the other hand, offers a unique and adventure-filled experience, taking you through the waterways and showcasing the biodiversity of the region.


Each mode of transportation offers its own advantages, and the choice ultimately depends on your preferences, budget, and the level of adventure you seek. If you prefer a more budget-friendly and immersive experience, taking the bus and boat combination may be the best option. If you value flexibility and independence, traveling by car allows you to have full control over your itinerary. And if you’re seeking a thrilling and scenic adventure, the boat option is sure to captivate your senses.


Regardless of the option you choose, make sure to plan ahead, check the current schedules, and consider the weather conditions. Keep in mind that traveling in the rainy season may present certain challenges, but it can also offer a unique perspective of Costa Rica’s lush greenery and flourishing wildlife.


So, whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure enthusiast, or simply looking for a chance to unwind and explore, the journey from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero promises to be a highlight of your Costa Rican vacation. Prepare to be amazed by the stunning landscapes, encounter fascinating wildlife, and create unforgettable memories along the way.


As you embark on this journey, take a moment to appreciate the wonders of Costa Rica’s natural heritage and the importance of conservation efforts. Remember to travel responsibly, respect the environment, and support local communities to ensure that this enchanting destination remains a treasure for future generations to enjoy.