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How to Get From Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero

How To Get From Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero

Many people travel from Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero, Costa Rica annually. And you might be planning on going this route, but you’re probably not sure which means of transportation are available to make this trip, and that’s what brought you here.

Many people have come to me with this question, and I’ve helped them find the best ways to get from Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero in the best way for them.

This article will discuss the four main ways to get from Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero, from group shuttles to hiring a private car-boat service. Let’s dive in and find out which option is best for you.

Top 3 Best Ways to Get From Arenal or La Fortuna to Tortuguero

  1. Drive and Take a Boat: It takes 6 Hours and Costs between $50 and $80 Per Person
  2. Group Shuttle-Boat: It takes 6.5 Hours and Costs between $60 and $70 Per Person
  3. Private Shuttle-Boat: It takes 5 Hours and Costs between $750 and $800 Per Person


The above rates do not include the 13% IVA tax.
These prices assume there is a minimum of two travelers.
Renting a car consists of the base rate, insurance, and fuel.
Prices can fluctuate throughout the year based on market conditions and demand.

Quick Summary:

There are three ways to get from Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero, Costa Rica. You drive a rental car to the pier and then take a shared boat or hire either a Group or a Private Shuttle-Boat Service. Generally, the first option is more complicated, whereas the other two are more straightforward. 

Taking a “Shuttle & Boat Service” whether as part of a tourist group (a shared model) or through a “Private Shuttle & Boat Service” (a more exclusive model, just the drivers and you) are pretty straightforward. You hire a company like us, MonteTours Costa Rica, and we take care of your transportation, door-to-door. On the other hand, renting a car is not very practical, but it’s another alternative.

Keep scrolling to find out how each option ranks against the other based on its pros and cons so that you can make the best of your trip from Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero.

1. The Drive From Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero

You can’t drive from La Fortuna directly to Tortuguero. You must first go to La Pavona, which will take about 3.5 hours, and leave your car in a parking lot. Then take a ferry (a midsize boat) from La Pavona to Tortuguero, which will take another 1.5 hours through the canals of the Rio La Suerte and the Tortuguero River to finally reach Tortuguero town.

Where Do You Park Your Car in Tortuguero?

If you plan to drive to Tortuguero, you must leave your car in a parking lot at La Pavona, the pier to Tortuguero. At La Pavona, you will find safe parking lots for $10 cash per night. However, you should avoid leaving valuables inside your vehicle.

Click here to open a Google Map to reach La Pavona Pier.

La Pavona to Tortuguero Boat Times

The boat from La Pavona to Tortuguero departs from La Pavona Pier daily at 7:30 am, 1 pm, and 4:30 pm, going through the canals and arriving at the Tortuguero Pier 1.5 hours later. And if you plan to enjoy the beautiful scenery on the ride, then take the first boat as the weather is better in the mornings.

Aspects to Consider When Driving from Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero

Driving from Arenal or La Fortuna to Tortuguero is simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. There are crazy local drivers, unpredictable and harsh weather conditions, and narrow roads in bad shape.

Costa Ricans drive significantly faster than foreigners. In addition to this, since we know the roads, as locals, we can make risky moves that might scare someone who has never driven in our country. For example, it’s common to see local drivers going full speed, passing multiple vehicles on a relatively narrow road.

If you live in Costa Rica and have been through that route thousands of times, you will not see anything particularly wrong with this. But if you come from a developed country where the roads are much broader, and there are usually multiple lines on all the highways, you might see such a move as imprudent.

On the other hand, you have the unpredictable weather conditions of Costa Rica. You might be driving with a clear sky when suddenly a cloud forms ahead, pouring rain all over the place. Driving under changing weather conditions might not be such a big problem during the summertime from December through April, but it can get extremely challenging during the rainy season.

In Costa Rica, the rainy season is not so bad from May through August. However, it can get scary sometimes during September and October, especially if you stumble upon a storm while driving. These are the top 2 rainy months and the top months for accidents on the road.

The rain also causes a lot of damage to the roads, which worsens during the rainy season. Many potholes come to life during this time of the year, and it takes a couple of months for the government to repair the cracks.

A tourist’s main problem with potholes is that they can make a vehicle’s tire explode. Exploding tires do not usually cause many accidents in Costa Rica. However, they can easily create a trip very stressful for a tourist, who will need to phone in the car rental to get another vehicle and then file the insurance paperwork. It’s not dramatic, but it can ruin a few hours of your dream vacation time.

2. Group Shuttle-Boat From Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero

Now that we have explored how driving can be problematic, let’s dive into an easier way to make this trip. Booking a Group Shuttle-Boat Service is arguably the most balanced way (between price and effort) to get from Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero.

Getting a group shuttle from Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero is an excellent choice for solo travelers and couples. A group shuttle is a shared transportation service from Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero. A modern Van with A / C will pick you up at your Arenal and La Fortuna lodge and take you to the pier at the La Pavona or Cano Negro stations (depending on the river level) to then jump on a boat to Tortuguero.

Here at MonteTours Costa Rica, with this service, where you share the cost with fellow travelers, making it an excellent option for solo travelers and couples. For these types of travelers, using our group shuttle to get to Tortuguero will be far more convenient than driving and significantly less expensive than hiring a private transfer. The price can change depending on the seasonality and demand, but it’s usually around $65 per person.



3. Private Shuttle-Boat From Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero

Hiring a Private Transportation Service, or a “Private Shuttle-Boat,” as locals call it, is the easiest way to get from Arenal and La Fortuna to Tortuguero. You can arrange a specific time and place with a transportation company like us here at MonteTours Costa Rica.

With this service, we will pick you up and take you to your lodge in Tortuguero in a door-to-door fashion, so you don’t have to worry about driving in uncertain road conditions or leaving your rented car and some of your luggage in a parking lot at the pier, potentially compromising your safety and belongings.

Instead, you simply arrange the pickup time and place. Then, one of our local professional drivers will pick you up with a modern vehicle to take you from your departure place in Arenal and La Fortuna to the pier (either in La Pavona or Cano Negro, depending on the river level) and then take the boat to your destination in Tortuguero.

The only disadvantage of hiring this type of transportation service is the price. Using a private transportation service is the most comfortable, convenient, and straightforward means of transportation in the country but it’s pretty pricey starting at $750 per trip (not per person).



Here’s the end of this article. Thank you for reading this far, and feel free to share this info with fellow travelers as you deem appropriate. Happy travels and ¡Pura Vida, amigos!

About the Author

Daniel Lalinde

I am the founder of , and we will happily assist you!