Tortuguero is one of the most remote locations in Costa Rica. With no roads into this area and no cars in the village, all transportation is by boat, foot, or bicycle. Most of the lodges are spread out over several kilometers to the north of Tortuguero Village on either side of the main canal; the small airstrip is at the north end of the beachside spit of land. At the far northern end of the main canal, you’ll see the Cerro de Tortuguero (Tortuguero Hill), which, at some 119m (390 ft.), towers over the area. The hike to the top is a popular half-day tour and offers some good views of the Tortuguero canal and village, as well as the sea.
The village of Tortuguero is a small collection of houses and shops connected by footpaths. It’s spread out on a thin spit of land, bordered on one side by the Caribbean Sea and on the other by the main canal. At most points, it’s less than 300m (984 ft.) wide. In the center of the village, you’ll find a small playground, the town’s health clinic, and a soccer field.
If you stay at a hotel on the ocean side of the canal, you’ll be able to walk into and explore the village; if you’re across the canal, you’ll be dependent on the lodge’s boat transportation. Some of the lodges across the canal have their own jungle trails that might appeal to naturalists.
Note: Tortuguero has no banks, or currency-exchange houses, but it does have a Banco de Costa Rica ATM on the main drag. Regardless, be sure to bring enough cash in colones to cover any expenses and incidental charges, as it’s often out of cash. The local hotels and shops generally charge a commission to exchange dollars.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.