Around a one-hour boat ride, Northeast of Montezuma lies Isla Tortuga or also known as Turtle Island. This Island is home to white-sand beaches as well as surrounded by clear water that is great for snorkeling and scuba diving. Taking day trips to this island is a very popular activity if you are staying around the Nicoya Peninsula or Jaco. We stayed in Montezuma when went. A lot of people come from Santa Teresa because there is a lot to do there as well. The Isla Tortuga tour is an amazing time to add to your itinerary when visiting Costa Rica.
In this guide, I will give you a breakdown of everything you need to know about the Isla Tortuga tour. This will include all the activities we did, time spent on the beach, and was it all worth it. The price to do this tour from any of the places listed is no more than $145 but usually less than that. I have heard many people’s opinions about going to Isla Tortuga, some good and some bad. So I am here to help you make that decision a little easier.
Which Isla Tortuga Tour Company Is Best?
There are many tour companies to choose from when wanting to do an Isla Tortuga Tour. This can become very overwhelming as they all basically can give the same things. It will depend on where you’re coming from as well as your budget. Below are some of the more popular tour groups that take you to Isla Tortuga.
Zuma Tours Isla Tortuga
Zuma tours are the company that we went with when visiting Isla Tortuga. We didn’t have that much of a choice because it was sold out every day with other companies. This Isla Tortuga Tour is perfect if you are staying in Montezuma or even Santa Teresa. They ask you to check in with them at their building and then go to the bus stop by the beach at 9. After this, you board the boat and won’t be back until 4 PM.
They offer the same amenities as the other tours leaving from Montezuma. Your day will include snorkeling, lunch (either fish, chicken, or veggie) at their ranch, and laying on the beach. This type of Isla Tortuga Tour costs $70 from Montezuma and $85 from Santa Teresa. They also have other packages that you can choose from if you want to add in scuba diving which can cost upwards of $155. The boat we were on wasn’t that big. We had seats and it felt like it was just a means of transportation, instead of actually being an activity.
Costa Cat Tortuga Island
Costa Cat tour is more of a boujiee style tour to Isla Tortuga. You are on a 55-foot catamaran that is fully air-conditioned. They also have a smaller, open-aired catamaran if you would rather take that. The basic tour, it leaves earlier than the one from Montezuma. They also give you a light breakfast and an open bar for liquor drinks.
Some other things to note. Their lunch is more buffet-style and Zuma tours weren’t. Besides snorkeling, they take you on a hike to a lookout of the island and free banana boat rides. Overall this is a way nicer tour and the entire experience is better. The cost is a lot more though, especially if all you care about is seeing the island and snorkeling. They do private Isla Tortuga tours as well and that would bring the cost down per person.
Isla Tortuga Tours From Surrounding Areas
Depending on where you’re currently located or will be located in Costa Rica, there are different options you can take for your Isla Tortuga tour. Some information was already stated above but this will be more detailed.
Montezuma to Isla Tortuga
This is the most popular starting location to take a trip to Isla Tortuga. Zuma tours is what we took and is the most popular option that you probably see online already. There are many different booking agencies like tropical tours that lead you to Zuma tours. So if you want to book them, I would suggest just booking through them directly.
Another popular tour group in Montezuma is called Montezuma Expeditions. They offer the same amenities as Zuma Tours. The price is not labeled on their site, so you will have to request a booking to find out. It should be around the same price as Zuma Tours though.
Jaco to Isla Tortuga
If you are staying in Jaco or are thinking about going there on your stay, there is only one main company taking you on an Isla Tortuga tour. Costa Cat will be the company you’ll be riding with and currently their cheapest fare is $145 for adults and $120 for kids ages 4-13. You might be able to find cheaper deals around on other travel booking sites like Viator but it’ll depend on which boat you want to take. It may seem like a lot of money but you will not be disappointed in how nice their tour is.
Isla Tortuga Tour from Santa Teresa
If you are staying in Santa Teresa and want to take an Isla Tortuga tour then your best bet will also be through Zuma tours. You might be able to find cheaper deals through Viator once again but these don’t seem as well run as Zuma tours. For an extra cost, I think it is worth it to take the more popular tour company. The cost will be more expensive to coming from Santa Teresa to Isla Tortuga because of transportation. They pick you up from your hotel and bring you to Playa Montezuma. The cost is $85 which is $15 more than if you are staying in Montezuma.
Some Other Great Activities Around Jaco & Quepos
Jaco and Quepos are two of the most popular areas to visit when coming to Costa Rica. They are relatively close and easy to get to when flying into San Jose. Both of these towns of multiple great things to offer. There is the famous national park of Manuel Antonio and the many waterfalls surrounding Jaco. Shortly after visiting, you will understand why this area is a hotbed for tourism.
Isla Tortuga Tour Activities
Depending on which company you take, you will be able to do different activities if you want to do them. I only have photos from my Zuma tour which did not include banana boat rides or scuba diving.
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Boat Ride to Isla Tortuga
Our boat when we did our Isla Tortuga tour through Zuma wasn’t very big. It was a handful of rows of seats and then a front section of padded seats. On the way to Isla Tortuga, they said we might be able to see some manta rays, whales, sea turtles, and dolphins. We only had the chance to see some dolphins unfortunately but you might be luckier than we were. Also, within 10-15 minutes of the boat ride, we stopped in front of the famous El Chorro waterfall. This waterfall is 1 of 7 in the world that drops directly from land into the ocean. We hiked to it and it was breathtaking to see.
Tortuga Island (Costa Rica) Snorkeling
I haven’t snorkeled a ton in my life, so my experiences are limited but this was by far my favorite time doing so. The water was so clear, especially in the 2nd spot that we went to. You get to snorkel for around 30-45 minutes at both spots. Be careful as there are many sea urchins at the bottom or on the rocks in these areas. We were given headpieces and flippers. Our guide picked up a starfish and a sea urchin for us to take a closer look at. Overall I was super pleased with the snorkeling during the Isla Tortuga tour.
Beach, Food, and Drinks
If you don’t want to snorkel and would rather lay on the beach, they stop first and let anyone who wants to do that. After you’re done snorkeling you will be taken back to the beautiful beach of Tortuga Island and will be given lunch. When paying for your Isla Tortuga tour, you will be given three options for your meal. They will be fish, chicken or veggie. I was highly impressed by the meal and would gladly eat it again right now. For the Zuma tour, they gave us free beers while we were there, and went to sit on the beach after lunch. The water surrounding the island is gorgeous and it was a super relaxing end to the tour.
Was the Isla Tortuga Tour Worth It?
I think so! My only experience is through Zuma tours so this can change depending on who you go with but I loved it. It is a little pricey, especially if you’re coming from Jaco. If you are in the Nicoya Peninsula area for a long time, I would suggest trying to budget some money to put this activity. This was the only paid activity we did during our time in Montezuma. Many people who are on a backpacker’s budget might not think it’s worth it but that will vary. I would say coming from Jaco if you’re a backpacker, then probably not worth it but if you’re staying in Montezuma for a week or more then it’s worth it. The snorkeling made it and without it being that good, I would probably say otherwise.
Thank you for reading my guide to the Isla Tortuga tour! I hope you gathered some useful information to make your decision on going or not a little bit easier.