Driving Yourself
Time: 4 hours Cost: Varies  Driving Directions
From San José to Guápiles From San Jose take highway 32 toward Limon.  Click Here to see Google Map Directions to Guapiles. The drive has some amazing scenery going through Braulio Carrillo National Forest.  You will also pass through the Zurqui tunnel.  After you descend from the mountains you will come to Guáplies. From Guápiles to Cariari When you get to Guapiles, stay on 32 until you arrive at the Santa Clara gasoline station (”Servicentro Santa Clara”) just a few hundred meters past (east of) the Burger King. Then turn left (north).  Zero your odometer. At a point approximately 8.1 kilometres north of the Santa Clara Gasoline station you will reach a cross road. Turn left so you do not cross the rail road tracks yet. Follow the train tracks west for approx. 0.7 kilometres and then turn right on the main highway (crossing over the RR tracks) and continue north 10.4 kilometres towards Cariari. If you arrive in Cariari after 3:30ish, you will not make the last boat to Tortuguero so you should stay the night in Cariari.  Click Here for the hotels in Cariari. From Cariari to la Pavona You know you are in Cariari when you pass the Bus Station on your right (19.2 km from Santa Clara Gas Station).  Also on your right you will pass the only gas station in the area.  Drive straight through Cariari on the same road for 7.1 kilometres.  Then turn right heading toward Campo Dos (at 26.3 km from Santa Clara Gas Station). Be careful, this road will sneek up on you.  It is in the middle of the banana plantations. But follow the sign indicating Campo Dos and Cuatro Esquinas.  Follow the paved road until you get to a football (soccer) field to your left, then turn left following the paved road. Stay on the paved road until you get to Cuatro Esquinas.  (33.7 km from Santa Clara Gas Station). Continue straight on through Cuatro Esquinas. Here the pavement ends.  Follow the gravel road for 8.9 km. Do not make any turns at road junctions!  Until you reach the general store on the right ("Abast Palacio") in the tiny village of Palacios. (42.6 km from Santa Clara Gas Station). You can buy cold drinks and snacks here. Just past the general store is a road going off to the left. There are signs directing you to Tortuguero. Turn left. Follow this road for 5.7 km until you reach a building with an old parking lot.  (48.3 km from Santa Clara Gas Station).  Turn left onto the dirt road and go over the bridge.  Continue on the dirt road until you reach La Pavona, also called Rancho El Rio Suerte. (49.4 km from Santa Clara Gas Station). There is safe parking here for a fee ($10 per night, or $50 per week) which includes 24 hour security. At La Pavona (Rancho El Rio Suerte) You can grab a bite to eat and use the restroom for a small fee at La Pavona (El Suerte).  Go to the cashier at the restaurant under a sign that says ‘boletos’ and buy a boat ticket for Tortuguero.  Your receipt is your ticket. It costs 1600 colones (about 3 USD).  There are two boat companies, Clic Clic and Coopetraca.  The ticket is valid for both and they both share revenue, so there is not any pressure to choose any particular boat company.  The boats leave La Pavona shortly after the public bus arrives.  The boats leave for Tortuguero from Pavona at around 7:30am, 1:30pm and 4:30pm). You should arrive at least a half an hour early just in case the boats leave earlier. Approximate driving time from San Jose to Cariari: 2 hours. Approximate driving time from Cariari to La Pavona: 1 hour. Arrival in Tortuguero The boat trip takes about and hour and 15 minutes.  It will take longer if the river is low.  During the dry seasons (September-October or February-April) the boats may take two hours or more to arrive in Tortuguero.  For the first 45 minutes or so you wind along through the jungle on the River Suerte.  Then Rio Suerte runs into Tortuguero river which is very wide.  You will pass next to Tortuguero Hill, which is the highest point on the Caribean coast (119 meters high).  The boat will stop at a little village called San Fransisco and various places along Tortuguero River and let off locals who live on the outskirts of Tortuguero. Then you round a river bend and arrive in Tortuguero.  The main dock (’muelle principal’) is really just a little beach area next to a large Gavilan tree.  If you want to book tours, to your left is the guide association’s office.  They also have a map of the village so you can find your accommodations.  (See the map here) Welcome to pure life paradise!
Turn North Here onto Hwy 247 The 'main dock' is really a little beach Tortuguero Transportation Options Travel Advice Public Transportation Private Transportation Driving Airplane Hotel Packages Walking/Swim How to Get Here Things to Do Where to Eat Places to Stay Tour Guides Community
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Driving