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Traveling to Tortuguero

Flemington, New...
Level Contributor
1 post
25 reviews
Traveling to Tortuguero

First of all, I want to thank all of you who take the time to write reviews and answer questions in these forums. This is my first time traveling to Costa Rica and my first time traveling outside of the US where I am actually doing the planning and I can not tell you how helpful your reviews and answers have been thus far in the planning.

We are planning a trip to Costa Rica in early October. I know that some people will say not the best time, but everything I read said it was a great time to see Arenal Volcano and the dry season in Tortuguero and Puerto Viejo. So, we are hoping for the best.

Everything I can find about getting to Tortuguero has a route from SJO, however, we are planning to do Arenal first, then Tortuguero. Google Maps shows a route from Arenal to Tortuguero, going mostly on Route 4, I wondered if anyone had experience with that route, I know some of the roads in Costa Rica can be rough. Is Route 4 a viable option to get to Tortugeuro? Google maps estimates it would take 2.5 hours, but I have been reading that the roads in Costa Rica are different and can take a lot longer. I am concerned about missing the bus from Guapiles to Tortuguero.

Also, I am a bit apprehensive about the parking and traveling to Tortuguero via bus and boat. Is it safe? Is it safe to leave our rental car in one of those parking lots? I know the buses only leave a few times a day, how much time should we give ourselves from when we arrive in Guapiles until the bus leaves?

Thank you in advance.

Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
19,210 posts
62 reviews
1. Re: Traveling to Tortuguero

Theresa, I am a bit confused here. Will you have a rental car to drive to Tortuguero? If yes then there is no need for any bus as you can drive all the way to La Pavona where the boats are. There is a secured parking lot so no problems in that regard.

Google Maps is good for road network but wrong with driving times. Instead of Google Maps use this link: www.yourtravelmap.com . However also this one can do only half of the job, giving directions and driving time between La Fortuna and Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. For arriving to La Pavona use info posted here: www.tortuguerovillage.com . Well, directions on Google Maps are OK also just the driving times sucks. It is about 2 hr 15 min between La Fortuna and Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, and about 2 hrs 45 min between PVdS to La Pavona, so more or less 5 hrs total. And count at least 4 hrs between La Fortuna and Guapiles.

Road #4 is good, paved one. problems (if raining hard) will start when off the 4 at Guapiles. I suggest you to drive all the way to La Pavona only if you will rent an SUV or 4x4 type of car. Otherwise park the car in Guapiles and use the bus (others might correct me on this as it was back in 2011 when I did that part of road between Guapiles and La Pavona).

Parking lots, if guarded, are usually safe to leave the car there. As for the bus schedule, you should give yourself some more time as schedules are not so strictly observed as in the States (or Europe).

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
51,001 posts
42 reviews
2. Re: Traveling to Tortuguero

Just drive from Arenal to La Pavona…leave the car there …secure parking there…then take the public boat to Tortuguero…and then back to La Pavona…then to Caribben beaches…the road to La Pavona is in great shape but the last 4 kms…not big deal at all…


Level Contributor
17 posts
33 reviews
3. Re: Traveling to Tortuguero

thank you for the tips! We are planning to visit in May, driving from SJO airport. Do you know how much it costs to leave the car overnight? We are staying in Tortuguero for 3 nights in a hotel.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,653 posts
25 reviews
4. Re: Traveling to Tortuguero

As far as I know, it's $10 a night to park your car in Pavona. It is very secure parking and covered.

5. Re: Traveling to Tortuguero

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