Public transportation from San José

How to get to Tortuguero from San José? This is one of the main questions tourists ask before visiting this amazing place. You can easily get to Tortuguero using public transportation.


1. San José-Cariari: Locate the Gran Terminal del Caribe (Caribeños) in San José (Calle central, Avenida 13A). From there, take a bus going to Cariari (departing at: 6:30am, 9:00am, 10:30am, 1:00pm / Estimated cost: $3,50 / How much time will I need? Around 2 hours.

Map of Location Points
Location Points
Rent a cars
Rent a cars
Costa Rica Map
Costa Rica Map

2. Cariari - Pavona: Once you get to Cariari, you need to take La Pavona bus (departs at 9:00am, 11:30am and 3:00pm / Estimated cost: $2,50 / How much time will it take me? About 1 hour.

3. Pavona-Tortuguero: Once you arrive to La Pavona (to the Rancho La Suerte), you'll need to grab a boat headed towards Tortuguero (boats depart at 10:30am, 1:00pm, 4:30pm / Approximate cost: $3,50 + bags ($2, approximately) / How much will it take me to complete the trip? From 2 to 3 hours, depending on the levels of the river.

San José - Cariari

First of all, you need to get to the Gran Terminal del Caribe (also known as Terminal Caribeños). It is located on the Calle central, Avenida 13A. If you're coming from the airport or a particular hotel, you can take a cab and ask him/her to take you directly to the Terminal. Another option is to grab any bus going to San José Centro (downtown) and then walk all the way to the Terminal. Once you make it, you'll need to buy your ticket to Cariari. Buses depart at 6:30am, 9:00am, 10:30am and 1:00pm. Price should be around $3,50. You can get your ticket inside the building. There, you'll also find public bathrooms (which cost around $1), a supermarket, restaurant, shops and a place to store your luggage.

Head to the boarding gate. You can store your luggage in the bus trunk or keep it with you. Be careful with what you bring with yourself, keep an eye on your belongings, try not to place them on the upper storage area above the seats. The trip from San José to Cariari takes around 2 hours. If you grab a bus that departs later than 1:00pm, you won't make it to Tortuguero that day… If that is the case (if you weren't able to get a seat before 1:00pm), buy a ticket to Guápiles (you can do it at the same Terminal, the price should be around $2,50 and the ride may take less than 2 hours). Once you get to Guápiles you can hop onto a bus headed towards Cariari (pay less than $1 and plan for 45 extra minutes on the road). If you used this option, you'll need to be in Cariari before 3:00pm since that's when the last bus sets forth towards La Pavona.

Cariari - Pavona

As soon as you get to Cariari, take a bus called La Pavona (they depart at 5:30am, 9:00am, 11:30am and 3:00pm -this is the last one of the day-). The bus stops right in front of the Caribeños station in Cariari. Plan for a 1-hour trip and the ticket should be around $2. In case you didn't catch the last bus of the day, you can spend the night in Cariari. There are some cabins and hostels with prices ranging from $20 to $40. You can also ask a taxi to drive you to La Pavona. That would be around $30. If you opt for this alternative, make sure you arrive to La Pavona before 4:30pm. That's when the last boat sails to Tortuguero. There aren't any lodges in La Pavona so you must take this into consideration.

Pavona - Tortuguero

At the end of the route, you'll get to Rancho La Suerte. There are public bathrooms here, restaurants and boat tickets. You'll get charged for bags in the boat (around $2) and the boat trip ($3,50 approximately). The path takes from 2 to 3 hours. If you are willing to stay at a town before Tortuguero, make sure you let the captain know as soon as you see him.

How to get to Tortuguero from Puerto Viejo or Cahuita

From Puerto Viejo or Cahuita, you need to take a bus towards Limón (around $3,50). There, you'll have to grab a cab towards Moín. Once you arrive to Moín, you'll need to sail towards Tortuguero ($35 approximately). There's no schedule for this service.

Another option is to grab a bus from Limón to Guápiles ($3,50) and head to Cariari ($1,5) and, then to La Pavona ($2).

How to get to Tortuguero from La Fortuna

Many visitors like to travel from La Fortuna to Tortuguero using a car, instead of public transportation. The main reason for this is the difficult accessibility with public bus when La Fortuna is the starting point… If you choose this option, you'll need to travel from La Fortuna to Ciudad Quesada. There, you'll grab a bus to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí and, there, you'll need to hop onto the bus headed to Guápiles. Once you make it to Guápiles, you'll take a bus to Cariari and, then, another to La Pavona. From La Pavona, you'll need to sail to Tortuguero.

Other travel options

Rent a car

Renting a car is a great option to get to Tortuguero. You just need to take into consideration that Tortuguero can only be reached by water. Therefore, you'll have to park your car at La Pavona and this means you'll need to pay for the service (it's usually $10 per night). The easiest way to get to Tortuguero is using Waze or GPS.

Rent a carPhoneWebsite
Avis Rent a Car San José2296
Adobe Rent a Car2542
Alamo Rent a Car2242
Budget Car Rental2436
Sixt Rent a Car2431
Brunca Rent a Car2432
Mapache Rent a car2586
Dollar Rent a
Europcar Rent a Car2440
Payless rent a
Hertz Rent a
National Rent a
Tricolor Rent a
Economy Rent a
Ace Rent a Car(877)
Toyota Rent a
Solid Car
Poas Rent a Car2442

Private transportation

This is the most comfortable and fast option. However, it's the most expensive one. Prices will depend on the distance and the difficulty of the access. If you're traveling from El Arenal, you'll pay around $60, from San José, $55; and, from Cahuita o Puerto Viejo towards Moín, an estimated amount of $75.

There are plenty of hotels like Pachira, Evergreen, Aninga, Tortuguero Jungle and Mawamba that offer transportation for the tourist… The price is usually included within the regular room rate. Make sure you ask your operator.

Fly to Tortuguero

The easiest way to get to Tortuguero is by airplane. You'll get there in 30 minutes, departing from San José. The cost should range between $85 and $120, depending on the season. You can buy your tickets from Nature Air (phone: 2299 6000, Website: or Sansa (phone: 2290-4100, Website: You'll land 2km from the Tortuguero town, so you'll have to plan for a quick trip by boat towards the hotel.