When it comes to breathtaking beaches, stunning landscapes and fun water activities, Costa Rica has it all. There are several places in the country where you can experience all of that and one of them is Tortuga Island, Costa Rica.
Tortuga Island, or Isla Tortuga, one of several islands in the Nicoya Peninsula boasts white sand beaches, clear turquoise water and incredible views. A Tortuga Island day cruise is one of the best day trips from San Jose or Jaco to experience a gorgeous beach that has been awarded the Bandera Azul Ecologica, given only to the cleanest beaches in the country.
We recently did the Isla Tortuga one day tour with Bay Island Cruises from Puntarenas and it was a wonderful trip. Read on to see what it’s like and get our special $10 Tortuga Island day cruise discount!
Bay Island Cruises
Overnight stays are not allowed on the island but you can do a one day tour that takes you to Tortuga Island. Bay Island Cruises is a Costa Rican company based out of Puntarenas where they take guests on a 1.5 hour cruise through the Gulf of Nicoya to Isla Tortuga. Guests then spend about 5 hours on the island and they provide various activities to enjoy.
They pick up from San Jose and Jaco and include breakfast, lunch, snacks and fruit juice in the tour. They have two boats, a yacht and catamaran which they take out depending on the number of guests. On the beach, they have a designated area with lounge chairs, umbrellas and bathrooms and they stay on the island for a full 5 hours so guests can swim, snorkel, kayak and relax.
Tortugua Island Catamaran Cruise
We got on the catamaran around 8 AM and set off into the Gulf of Nicoya with Bay Island Cruises. Their boat has two floors with an air conditioned main cabin and open upstairs deck. The upstairs deck has a Jacuzzi, seats, tables and is where the live music is.
It was a gorgeous day, super sunny with barely any clouds in sight. We went beginning of February which is during Costa Rica’s summer, so all the islands were yellow and brown from the dry heat. But it was still a beautiful sight!
We picked a nice spot at the front of the lower deck so we could lay down with the sun on our faces and wind blowing through our hair. Along the way, our captain shared information about the surrounding islands, Gulf of Nicoya and Isla Tortuga, he pointed out Isla San Lucas (the prison), Curu Wildlife Refuge (right behind Isla Tortuga), Venado Island and other points of interest.
One of the things Bay Island Cruises has that other companies don’t is live music. After we all get settled in the catamaran, the live band set up their spot on the top deck and started playing salsa, meringue and covered popular pop songs. It was a lot of fun to listen to and watch our MC dance and sing!
After about 1 hour, our captain announced that we were nearing Isla Tortuga. As I looked out onto the horizon, I saw a brilliant white sand beach glittering right in front of me.
I could see why companies chose Tortuga Island as the final destination for the cruise, the beach was absolutely breathtaking! No other island we saw in the Gulf of Nicoya had such white sand or clear water!
At the Island
When we got close, the crew pulled down a ramp so that we could walk down right onto the shore. The band stood in front of us, happily playing their instruments, welcoming us to Isla Tortuga.
The crew showed us to our place on the island and gave us a brief introduction of what’s what. After that, the day was ours. We had a full five hours to do whatever we wanted on the beach: swim, snorkel, relax, kayak, hike or take a nap!
Tortuga Island Activities
Tortuga Island actually belongs to a local family who rents out spots on the beach to tour companies and visitors can rent kayaks, jet skis, pedal boats, snorkel gear, stand up paddle boards and other activities from them.
One of the perks of going with a tour company is that they already include those in their prices. If you go on your own (just hire a boat to get you to the island), you have to pay for everything such as a beach chair ($7 a day) or snorkel gear ($6 per hour).
With Bay Island Cruises, you can purchase the package that includes a snorkel tour and the banana boat or you will have to pay $20 per person for each activity.
Tortuga Island Snorkeling
I went snorkeling which was amazing. They took us to a little island from the beach where we snorkeled and swam with big colorful tropical fish for about 1 hour. Other people went on the banana boat, rented kayaks and went on the short hike. The owners created a sanctuary on the island so you can walk their trails to see peccaries, deer, birds and other animals.
We had lunch after the snorkel tour and they served us fish, chicken, salad, rice and dessert. If you are vegetarian/vegan, make sure to let the company know beforehand or else you will be stuck with eating rice all day. The lunch was good but nothing amazing.
For the rest of the day, we relaxed and took a nap at the beach. We also brought our drone so you can see photos of Isla Tortuga from above!
Before we knew it, our five hours were up and it was time to head back to Puntarenas. Although I was sad to leave such a beautiful beach, I was ready to go back and the timing was perfect. We sailed back right during the sunset.
You can watch a video of the Tortuga Island Costa Rica one day tour in the video below!
What to Bring
- Bring a day pack with your swimsuit, towel, sunglasses, lots of sunscreen and a hat.
- You can bring your swimsuit and change on the boat or on the island.
- If you want to do the hike, it is an easy trail that takes around 30 minutes. No hiking shoes required.
- If you want to do other activities like rent a jet ski, it is best to bring cash. Prices are quoted in USD and they take USD.
Mytanfeet Tortuga Island Discount
If you want to do this one day Tortuga Island cruise, we have an exclusive discount with Bay Island Cruises to give $10 off to all our readers!
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Read about other things to do in Costa Rica below!