The flight from Houston with United is only 3.5 hours and San Jose airport was very chill. Luckily my cousin picked us up at the airport and we had dinner at his house, but apparently is very safe to take an Uber.
My cousin also took us later to our little hotel, which was nice and clean. The only thing is that it didn´t has AC or hot water, but it wasn´t that bad, at least it was closed to the airport.
Next day we woke early (around 6:00am), took an Uber to go to the airport and then a shuftle to pick up our rental car in Dollar. Originally we paid 260$ to rent the car, but then we wanted the full coverage insurance and the extra driver, and for that we had to paid an extra 623$. Our friends had already warned us that this was going to be the most expensive part of the trip. We also didn´t choose the cheaper 4WD, but anyway the price wouldn´t had change much. The expensive part is the insurance and I totally recomend paying for it, which we ended up using (just for a minor thing).
From San Jose to Tortuguero
To go to Tortuguero we drove for 3 hours to La Pavona. You can check on my map below the exact point where you should go to take the ferry to Tortuguero. The road was fine, sometimes 1 lane, sometimes 2, but really, a lot of people told me not to drive in Costa Rica and I didn´t find any problem, roads were OK, but of course, always with a 4WD and full insurance.
Once in the restaurant in La Pavona, we left our car there in the parking (10$ per day) with some of our bags inside.
In our case, our hotel was not exactly in Tortuguero but in San Francisco, which is before Tortuguero, although we still paid 10$ per the ride as everybody else. Nobody knew the exact schedule of the boats, but is something around 6:00am, 9:00am, 11:30am and 13:30, but they can vary. My recommendation is to get there around 11:00am and wait in the restaurant, although it is REALLY hot in the restaurant.
If you want a private boat is around 50-60$.
Our hotel, Chinitas Eco Lodge, was incredible, the hosts (Ana Rita and Gerardo) are these amazing native couple that keep the lodge beautiful, cook amazing meals for you, explain you about the zone and also offer you some tours. If you are looking for a place to get to know the real Tortuguero but you don´t mind about AC or hot water (you wont need the last), go to this place, I totally recommend it even when I´m an AC fan.
We arrived to the hotel around 14:00 and there was time to take some tours but we like the hotel so much that we decided to enjoy the hammocks, drink some coconut water and get a very nice massage (45$ per person).
The perfect plan would have been to see the turtles during the night, but since it wasn´t turtle season (May), we didn´t risk ourselves and enjoy our dinner in Chinitas: fried fish with tamarindo juice and coconut honey for dessert, all accompanied by Gerardo telling us the history of Tortuguero/San Francisco.
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