Tortuga Island, North Puntarenas

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Just about everywhere one looks in Costa Rica, the view is of lush, green foliage or white sandy beaches or – better yet – both. There are several Costa Rica islands worth including in a trip to Central America, and one highlight is Tortuga Island, located off the southeastern shore of the Nicoya Peninsula. It is only accessible by boat, but there are several Costa Rica tours that can get visitors there from a variety of mainland cities.

Nicoya Peninsula is in the northern part of the country, one of two such land masses on the western coast. There are several larger cities on the peninsula, and tons of nature reserves and welcoming beaches as well. Tortuga Island is a popular day trip for many tourists, with boats and catamarans leaving the nearby cities on a daily basis.

Getting There

Tortuga Island, also known as Isla Tortuga, is one of two islands that make up the Islas Negritos Biological Reserve off the Nicoya Peninsula. Although overnight stays on the island are not routine, there are several tour companies in Costa Rica North Puntarenas that are happy to help visitors experience a magical day on Tortuga Island. Excursions often are booked from Jacó, Puntarenas or Montezuma on the mainland. The distance of the departure site will dictate the duration of the boat trip to the island, but along the way, travelers may enjoy seeing whales, dolphins and other marine life frolicking in the ocean.

Top Island Attractions

Whether guests want to spend the day relaxing on the beach or hiking the forested trails of the Tortuga Island or both, they can accomplish their goals easily within a day.

Beach denizens will be happy to see upon arrival a large, white sand beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas that can be rented for a nominal fee. There is plentiful food to be had, and a ready supply of refreshing drinks and fresh fruit that is synonymous with Costa Rican hospitality. Visitors are free to bask in the sun all day or venture into the water, where they can snorkel and swim to their hearts’ content. Beach volleyball and other activities, such as rides in glass-bottom boats or kayaking, are available as well.

On the other hand, the more adventurous types might choose to hike into the hills of the nature preserve, either to enjoy the wildlife or to reach the summit of the island. The dense foliage of the island serves as home to a wide array of native wildlife, birds and insects. Those seeking an adrenaline rush might be tempted to try out the action of the zipline ride as part of a canopy tour. That way, visitors get to see the sights before and during a heart-pounding trip back down to the forest floor.

In the Water

The most well-loved activities on or near Tortuga Island, however, are the opportunities to experience the creatures of the sea. Though snorkelers and scuba divers will certainly get to see a dizzying array of fish, they can also expect to witness larger animals such as manta rays, spinner dolphins, sharks and octopuses. There are even some buried treasures there – literally. Off the shore of Tortuga Island are three shipwrecks, offering plenty of chances to explore the remains of sunken vessels and all the wonder to be found inside and around them. It is not every day that divers get to visit three separate ships in one diving excursion!

Before heading back to the mainland, guests to Tortuga Island should plan to capture some shots of the beautiful sunset over the Pacific. After a day of lounging or exploration or both, visitors will not want to leave the tropical paradise.