We travelled to Costa Rica in February of 2016. We booked our transportation from San Jose to Tortuguero through Gecko Trail. We were happy with the service we received from this travel company. It was $45 US per person for the shuttle, breakfast, and boat ride to Tortuguero.
Our shuttle was to pick us up at 5:40 in the morning, and it was a little bit late, arriving at shortly after 6:00. By around 7:30 we had stopped for a great breakfast at a restaurant in a small town along the way. By about 10:00 we were boarding the boats at the docks at the entrance to Tortuguero National Park. We had arrived to the Almendros Dock in Tortuguero by noon.
Our first taste of gallo pinto, the most popular breakfast choice in Costa Rica
As soon as we got off the boat, our guide kind of “fed us to the fish” by ushering us off with the owner of one of the hostels on the island. We were shown a room that looked fine, but I had something different in mind so we politely declined and wandered off on our own.
Because we had some last-minute changes to our schedule, we actually had a room booked for our second night in Tortuguero, but not for the first night. We were booked in at La Casona but unfortunately they were full for the day we arrived there. The owner was very friendly and helpful though, and pointed us in the direction of some other hostels that we could check with.
We found Miss Miriam 2, which had room for us. We paid $30 for a private room with our own bathroom. We enjoyed our stay here because they have a nice outdoor lounge area on the second floor, plenty of hammocks, and there was even a couch right outside our room. Oh, and the wifi was really good, too!
We spent the rest of our first day wandering around the town, checking out the area, and enjoying the warmth and sunshine. There are no roads or cars in Tortuguero, so it is a very peaceful place to spend some time.
As I mentioned, our second night was spent at La Casona Tortuguero. There is a charming common area equipped with a kitchen and the room was a similar quality to the one we had at Miss Miriam 2. We were a bit disappointed that the wifi would only work in the common area, and not in our room.
So what did we do while we were there?
Well, it is a bit of a sleepy town, especially during the low season when the sea turtles are not nesting. Although it is surrounded by water, with the Caribbean Sea along the East shore, and the river along the West shore, it’s not really a beach town. The black sand beaches are soft, but the tides in the water are too aggressive for swimming, although some people do brave it. Even though there aren’t very many activities on the Caribbean side, the rivers offer a variety of options for exploring the area.
We signed up for a river tour with Ernesto, as we had walked by his house/office and noticed his advertisements.
I was looking forward to getting out on the water in a canoe or kayak. When we showed up in the morning for our tour, we found out we would actually be paddling in a canoe large enough for us, Ernesto, and one other couple.
Ernesto gave an interesting tour. It was peaceful and informative. He made sure to mention over and over again that “yesterday” he saw all three of the types of monkeys that live in the area, as well as a sloth (once I had asked about them). Strange enough, the day we went we only saw a number of birds and iguanas, until the very end when we caught a glimpse of one monkey lounging high above us in a tree. After the tour I couldn’t help but wonder if his clients tomorrow would be hearing of all of the marvellous things we “saw” or if he would tell them we pretty much struck out. Overall Ernesto was warm and friendly and we did learn a lot from him. I just had trouble shaking the feeling that he was pulling one over on us.
What We Ate
We tried it all, from Sodas to the top rated Trip Advisor restaurant. Here’s some pictures of the places we enjoyed and would recommend:
Soda Dona Maria
The Wild Ginger
What we did next…
Thanks to Ernesto, we were able to arrange our departure from Tortuguero to Puerto Viejo. We went to Ernesto’s on the morning we were leaving, and the boat came right to his dock to pick us up. It was the boat that left from the main dock, and we were the last ones to board. I’m sure you could skip the step of booking through someone and just go to the dock and get on the boat.
The boat ride took just over three hours. Near the town of Moin we started seeing lots of groups of monkeys, but the driver wasn’t slowing down at that point so we couldn’t really get any pictures. When we showed up at the dock there was a shuttle van waiting there that had enough room for all of us. It took around 2 hours and we had arrived at Puerto Viejo. The shuttle driver even dropped us all off at our individual accommodations.