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29 May 2024
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Local Activity Guide

Found surrounded by the crystal blue waters of the Gulf of Nicoya, Isla Tortuga is a hidden gem on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast. Visitors will find pristine beaches, lush forests, diverse marine life, and more when they visit the island.

If you are looking for an incredible day trip destination during your stay at Los Sueños Resort, Isla Tortuga can offer sun-soaked relaxation or thrilling adventures.

Tourists and locals alike come to our stretch of coastline from all over the world thanks to the immense beauty, great surfing, and plenty of things to do. And one of the best kept secrets is a day trip to Isla Tortuga.

Think it sounds like a good spot to visit on your next trip to stay with us?

Let’s dive into all the details you’ll need for an unforgettable day trip to Isla Tortuga.

Getting to Isla Tortuga

Photo Credit: Joan Vendrell

Isla Tortuga, in English Turtle Island, may be small but offers a lot for tourists. Isla Tortuga is comprised of two smaller islands named Alcatraz and Tolinga.

The island getaway is only a short distance from the Jaco region and is accessible by boat.

Guests can enjoy a picturesque 45-minute catamaran ride to get to Isla Tortuga. Certain tour companies may offer quicker options to get to the island, including a 45-minute catamaran ride. You'll likely see dolphins, whales, and other marine life frolicking in the calm waters during your travels.

Since it's a day trip, you should pack the essentials to make the most of the excursion. Bring a swimsuit, sunglasses, and towels to enjoy the beach activities. When you plan the trip with us at Los Sueños with our preferred vendor, beach chairs and umbrellas are included in the price.

If you’re staying with us at Los Sueños, we’d also be more than happy to help you narrow down the tour options to find the perfect fit for you and your loved ones.

Tours typically last 8 hours and usually include transportation, food and drinks, and island excursions.

Things to Do on Isla Tortuga

If you love the water, Isla Tortuga offers a wealth of activities to choose from.


Photo Credit: Joan Vendrell

Among the most popular are snorkeling. While underwater, see an array of reef sharks, manta rays, and tropical fish.

Exploring the island's shipwrecks has also become a popular tourist activity. The three most popular shipwrecks you can visit during your day trip include the Caroline Star, Franklin Chang Diaz, and Coronel Alfonso Monge.

The water conditions are calm and appropriate for all skill levels, including those who are beginner snorkelers.

Other Water Sports

Photo Credit: beranjan

The island's calm waters are also ideal for jet skiing, banana boat rides, and kayaking. Several rental agencies on the island loan out jet skis, kayaks, paddleboard options, and more by the hour at competitive prices.

Hiking & Walking Trails

Another part of enjoying the island is taking the time to explore any of the 17 available walking trails. Most of the main hiking trails will take between 30 and 45 minutes to complete. While in the tropical foliage, you'll likely spot a variety of wildlife, including peccaries, white-tailed deer, iguanas, and an array of tropical bird species.

Typical tours to Isla Tortuga include hiking so you can see all aspects of the island.


If you're in the mood for a more laid-back experience, Isla Tortuga's beaches are perfect for a day of sun-soaked relaxation. The white sand beaches allow you to sunbathe or take a relaxing dip in the ocean.

You'll also have time to see the majestic turtles that inhabit the island—Isla Tortuga's namesake.

Beachside Bars & Restaurants

Photo Credit: Fredy Estuardo Maldonado

After a day filled with fun and adventure, you can savor delicious local cuisine at the island's beachside restaurants and bars. But do know that lunch and some cocktails are included with our tours but you might want to bring some extra cash if you want to try any other spots on the island. Costa Rican favorites to try include tamales, ceviche, gallo pinto, and casado.

There are also several stores that you can check out during your visit. Local shops sell souvenirs, such as apparel and gifts, that you can bring back to Jaco.

Choosing the Best Time to Visit

The ideal time to visit the island is during the dry season, which runs from December to March. During the dry season, there is very little rainfall, and temperatures average in the 80s. April is considered a transition month, while the rest of the year is known as the region's rainy season.

While the dry season is the most popular time to visit, it's also essential to consider the potential for larger crowds and premium prices. More people will flock to Isla Tortuga, so beaches and trails may be congested.

May to June and November to December are considered the shoulder seasons in Costa Rica. During these times, you have a chance to have good weather for your day tour without having to fight through the crowds.

Plan your trip early and book any tours in advance, especially during the peak dry season. An early reservation secures your spot so you can do all of your desired activities while on the island. If you're staying in Jaco for an extended trip, you may even want to visit Isla Tortuga on multiple occasions.

Preparing for Your Isla Tortuga Adventure

Keep in mind that Isla Tortuga doesn't have accommodations on site. Guests must leave and depart the same day. Bring a waterproof bag to carry any beach gear, and limit the number of valuables you bring on your person. Never leave cash, jewelry, credit cards, or expensive gear unattended while visiting.

One important thing to bring along on your trip is coral reef-safe sunscreen. Researchers have found that certain sunscreen ingredients can cause birth defects in marine life and lead to bleaching and deformity in coral. You don't have to avoid sunscreen altogether, but instead, use types rated as "reef-safe."

Be mindful of your footwear when you visit Isla Tortuga. If planning a beach day, wear water-friendly shoes. If hiking is part of your plans, bring hiking boots. Hikes also require comfortable clothing, a hat, bug spray, and binoculars.

Enjoying Jaco

Photo Credit: Jorge A. Russell

On your Costa Rican vacation, you'll find plenty to see and do in Jaco, not just a visit to Isla Tortuga.

Highlights include Playa Hermosa, an upscale village with family-friendly beaches and magnificent views of the Gulf of Papagayo.

The Manuel Antonio National Park also provides numerous sightseeing opportunities. Tourists can view wildlife species in their natural habitats, including howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sloths, toucans, and more.

ATV tours when visiting Costa Rica's Jaco area are also popular. While traversing the rainforest at high speeds, you'll make refreshing stops at the area's beautiful waterfalls.

The Ideal Day Trip from Los Sueños

To ensure your trip to Costa Rica is one to remember, book a stay at the nearby Los Sueños Resort and Marina. The luxurious resort offers beautiful accommodations, touring packages, private pools, and beach access. The resort includes seven restaurants, two coffee shops, and an 18-hole championship golf course.

Isla Tortuga is the perfect day trip escape when coming from the nearby Jaco. Although Jaco has countless attractions, Isla Tortuga gives you a chance to experience an island getaway off the beaten path. With relaxing beaches and scenic trails, the tropical paradise will appeal to singles, couples, and families.

Isla Tortuga is the ideal destination to immerse yourself in all the beauty of Costa Rica.