Our Costa Rica adventure vacations are aimed at those who want to squeeze as much and excitement as they can in just a single week in our magnificent country. Yet many times, our beloved guests do have a few more days to spare and often ask us what other destinations they could include in their itinerary. Given that Costa Rica is a powerhouse of exceptional highlights the options are nearly endless. One of the most popular is Turtle Island, a heavenly speck of wilderness floating just off the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. One of the more remote tourist destinations in the country, this hidden corner of Nicoya does require a bit of time and effort to reach yet if you have the time and love the challenge, rest assured you’ll be handsomely rewarded.
Costa Rica’s Turtle Island really is heaven on earth.
An idyllic day-trip destination to cap off an unforgettable adventure tour of Costa Rica, Tortuga Islands offers seaside relaxation and wildlife-watching galore, all in a tropical wilderness setting that’s out of this world. A side of Costa Rica not many get to see and one of the most beautiful places on earth.
What to see and do on Tortuga Island
Part of the Biological Reserve Islas Negritos, Turtle Island is a fiercely protected nature reserve both for the marine treasures found in its sapphire-hued seas and its pristine wilderness which attracts a multitude of migrating birds.
As such, overnight stays are not allowed yet there’s plenty of infrastructure to cater for the needs of day-trip visitors: this includes sundeck chairs and umbrellas which you can rent for the day on stunning stretches of glorious beach, kayaking rental and glass-bottom-boat rides. You’ll also find plenty of food stands offering refreshments and can join impromptu volleyball games on the beach in the afternoon. Inland, there are various hiking trails to follow and you’ll be delighted to know that the country’s epitome activity – zip lining atop the forest canopy – has also found its home here. There’s a great little gift shop that’ll delight you and a banana-boat ride that’ll thrill the kids. With free Wi-Fi to boot, the main beach is a wonderful place from where to post that drool-worthy Instagram pic!
The main treasures of Tortuga lie underwater, however, and this is one of the prime snorkeling and SCUBA diving spot in Costa Rica where avid marine adventurers can spot turtles (of course!) manta rays, enormous octopus, dolphins, reef sharks and a vast array of colorful tropical fish, especially on diving excursions to e one of the three sunken shipwrecks just off the island’s coast.
Overall, Tortuga Island offers a dreamy escape for the day and if you’re an avid diver you’ll find plenty of outfitters on the mainland offering comprehensive day trips to explore the underwater world here. If not, then rest assured that planning to spend an entire day on Costa Rica’s Turtle Island, soaking up the rays and frolicking in the sea, will make for some unforgettable travel memories.
How to Reach Turtle Island
There’s no airport on Tortuga Island which means you can only reach it by boat. There are several services running from various seaside towns on the mainland, the most popular options being Puntarenas (1 hr) on the eastern Pacific coast and Montezuma (50 minutes) on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula.
The wonderful convenience of being reached by boat both from the mainland close to international airports and from the Nicoya Peninsula itself, makes Isla Tortuga a doable side-trip no matter how many spare days you have at the end (or the beginning) of your Costa Rica adventure vacation. During the most popular tourist month, boat services run daily.
The boat trip across to Tortuga Island is a great chance for wildlife spotting with whales, dolphins and turtles often seen on this stretch of sea. The Gulf of Nicoya is teeming with marine life and the protected coves make for fantastic and very rewarding explorations.
Fantastic attractions near Costa Rica’s Turtle Island
Turtle Island boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica and is a particularly great option for family adventures – we find the snorkeling here to be very family-friendly.
If you have time to explore further, you’ll find a wealth of outstanding beauty to discover in the Nicoya Peninsula and the area around Puntarenas, the main springboard on the mainland.
Isla Alcatraz – Just north of Tortuga is Alcatraz Island, also part of the Islas Negritos Biological Reserve. Many organized tours make a stop around Alcatraz for excellent snorkeling and diving.
Refugio Nacional Curu’ – Costa Rica’s Turtle Island is just a few miles off the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula and right across it is where you can find this exceptional wildlife sanctuary. This stunning eco-tourism hub is part of a vast protected reserve which allows for the migration of wildlife from the high-peaks in the interior to the coastal mangroves and beach below. This place is teeming with wildlife and offers a blissful disconnect from modern life. A fantastic destination for bird lovers, Curu’ boasts hundreds of exotic bird species and an array of other creatures in its five distinct ecosystems. Walking trails abound (as do warning signs for crocodiles near the estuary) and the park also offers a restaurant and a few modest cabins to spend the night. A stay and meal must be booked in advance if you’re planning to visit.
Playa Pochote – Further south along the coast from the Curu’ beach is where you’ll find this idyllic family-friendly beach. Pochote is delightfully calm, with crystal clear calm waters and few visitors. A stunning, clean and glorious beach in which to spend an entire day. Pochote is a small fishing hamlet on the Ballena Bay and even though the bay is slowly being set up to attract tourism it still remains a laid-back, unspoiled and authentic seaside hub with just enough services – like kayak rental – to make a full-day stay totally enjoyable for visitors.
Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve – the southernmost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula comprises one of Costa Rica’s most pristine reserves, right between Malpais and Montezuma. An absolutely stunning park for hiking and wildlife-watching as you follow a relatively challenging 6-mile return trail that starts at the park’s entrance and ends at a small, remote and spectacular beach on the southern tip. If you’re touring around the Nicoya, Capo Blanco is well worth a stop for a few hours. The hike is a true jungle experience and you should be prepared with enough water and ample time. The rewards are more than spectacular!
The exciting options for Costa Rica adventure vacation add-ons are limited only by your imagination. Simply tell us what else you’d love to see and do and we’ll do our best to help you plan a comprehensive and utterly unforgettable experience. At Costa Rica Rios, that’s what we do best!