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Tortuga Lodge and Gardens

3.5 out of 5.0

Recent guest reviews

This is long overdue but I am determined to write a review because of our exceptionally fantastic experience with Costa Rica Expeditions (CRE). It’s long but worth the read. We booked the Rain Forest and Cloud Forest Odyssey package, with stays at Tortuga Lodge and Monteverde Lodge, originally for September 2017. Our flight itinerary took us to the Miami airport two days before Hurricane Irma was to hit and it was mayhem at the airport which was closing the next day. After multiple delays, our flight from Miami to San José was cancelled. Hundreds of others had flights cancelled. I was on the phone with Guillermo Monge Ramos at CRE as soon as we knew we would not make it to San José as scheduled. I explained how phone line wait time and physical rebooking lines within the airport were ridiculously long and I would keep him updated as I could. He immediately was sympathetic to our situation and extremely comforting in his willingness to support us in whatever way possible. Finally we found out from American Airlines that we could not get a flight to San José for 7 DAYS, meaning we would completely miss our stays at both lodges. We were also spending 3 more days at another hotel but I had time to simply cancel that reservation. We realized we had to scrap our entire trip. We did not have trip insurance. We had fully paid for our lodge stays. I begged CRE to allow us to rebook our trip given the extraordinary circumstances and within a day, they said, “Of course!” What an amazing gesture of good faith and excellent service! We had six months within which to take our trip. Of course, we had extra money to pay because we went from staying during low season to staying during high season but we fully anticipated that and were happy to pay the balance due. Over many months, I emailed Luz Elena Alpizar inquiring about many things and asking for recommendations, etc. Her professionalism, patience and attention to detail gave me all of the answers I needed and helped us build a perfect itinerary while at the lodges. I’m happy to report we successfully made it to CR on time in late January 2018. Every step of the way, CRE handled our flights, ground transportation, our lodge accommodations (they worked very hard to honor our original room upgrades and gave us beautiful rooms at both lodges), and our meals (I eat gluten-free) smoothly and in a most friendly manner. We felt pampered throughout our trip. We had another interesting problem arise once in CR. The immigration officer at the San José airport inadvertently neglected to stamp my passport. I did not know that until we and the CRE staff arrived at another small airport for our flight from San José to Tortuguero. Consequently, there was a chance I was not going to be able to take the flight. The CRE staff calmly took charge handling the problem with the airport police. Fortunately a record of my arrival was in the immigration digital records and I was allowed to fly. But I still had the outstanding issue of being “illegal.” CRE told me not to worry and they would take care of getting my passport stamped. Behind the scenes, with efficiency and a desire to maximize the chances of success, CRE scheduled for us upon our departure from Tortuga Lodge to take a private flight from Tortuguero to San José, then a private van with a driver and an escort who took us to the San José airport in the hopes of finding the very immigration officer who made the mistake (only he could stamp my passport so it was a little touch and go). Our escort spoke to immigration, explained our situation, translated for us, advised us on how to behave, guided me on what documentation to provide. Fortunately, the immigration officer was on site. He came and stamped my passport (apologizing profusely) and we were on our way to Monteverde with our driver and escort. It was a four-hour ride and our conversation was delightfully lively. I could go on and on describing the little and big things CRE did for us. But in conclusion, I will say that their care and concern was impressive and made our trip a most pleasantly memorable experience. CRE went above and beyond for us and we’ve been singing their praises ever since. Thank you to the entire CRE staff. We will be back.

Tortuga Lodge and Gardens is situated on the banks of the wide Tortuguero river and can only be accessed via the river taxi from La Pavona; The sedate and hugely enjoyable hour-long tour with our fantastic guide, Angelo, takes in all the local crocodile, caiman, lizards and turtles - really adding to the whole experience. The Lodge itself is set in beautiful, well-maintained gardens surrounded by tall palms with a private jungle that is home to toucans, sloths, iguanas, frogs and very loud, morning alarm call howler monkeys. The accommodation are double storey colonial-style timber structures and the rooms are clean and comfortable - befitting of it’s three stars - maybe a little open if you don’t have your curtains pulled but not a problem if you’re sensible! Our top floor room comfortably slept out family of four and had hammocks outside that overlooked the river. The grounds include a large open-sided restaurant overlooking the river, with a small and serene swimming pool area. The lodge staff are friendly and unobtrusive. However their level of service is very relaxed, moving just above sloth speed on most occasions. However, this laid back air befits the tranquility of the setting and helped us get into the rhythm of Costa Rica. The restaurant and its staff were excellent. The menu can be a little restrained by the lodges’ remote location but everything we ate - breakfast particularly - was superb. Guides, and Norton, are on hand to walk you around the gardens and jungle, spotting all kinds of wildlife via telescopic lens. Most impressive however was the guided river trip; a fascinating little voyage taking in a huge variety of local wildlife - including dolphins - while providing interesting facts about the local villages and the land itself. We can’t recommend these highly enough. It is not 5 star luxury but its location and general atmosphere lend Tortuga an air of wonderfully relaxed exclusivity. We would heartily recommend you embrace the adventure and stay here.

This hotel is just amazing! The peace you can breathe is priceless! The location is wonderful full of iguanas and lizards walking next to you, the swimming pool of the hotel and the hammock in each terrace of the room are the icing on the cake! The staff is really nice and the girls at the reception are amazing always ready to help you! Honestly is one of the best hotel where I’ve spent holidays. The only negative point is the restaurant (I mean is really good but prices are a bit too high). Erika & Pascal

Our extended family of six had a wonderful three days at Tortuga. We flew into the same strip just across the river from the lodge. Someone was there to meet us. The staff were all so friendly and helpful, even making special gluten free bread for my son when they found out he was gluten intolerant. The grounds were lovely with many birds, large lizards, and even a crocodile in the nearby lagoon. The food was excellent. One of the friendly waiters passed on my wife's request for some recipes to the head cook who was not there at the time. He took the trouble to translate them from Spanish and email them to her after we got back. Don't miss the boat trip into the National Park. Again, lots of lovely birds and in our case quite a few monkeys. We watched a troop of spider monkeys and saw some of them do amazing leaps high in the jungle. Also saw a few caiman, butterflies, etc. This is a really nice place to relax and enjoy nature. Even a pool.

My son and I stayed 2 nights/3 days in this lovely hotel in April. hotel staff, natural tour guides, service in hotel and restaurant were really excellent. This was our home during our stay, and everyone was very friendly and accommodating. Our natural tour guide, Angelo was very knowledgable, professional and kind. The iguanas, birds and howler monkeys are unforgettable. We would love to visit again, next time with the whole family.

We did enjoy ourselves here, quite a bit, but the 3 star rating is based upon the semi-luxury hotel pricing of this property. This will be a somewhat lengthy review, so I will try to summarize at the beginning, and provide more details lower. Also, if you decide to stay here, (which is not a bad call, despite this review, as long as you know what to expect), I have some lessons learned toward the bottom regarding getting to the hotel. At the outset, I almost didn't post this, considering how criticism is responded to by the hotel manager, but in anticipation of the certain denigration in the hotel's response, I would merely direct the reader to my other reviews, which, regarding our experiences in CR, are uniformly outstanding. (This includes their other property- the Monteverde Lodge and Gardens which remains one of our favorite hotel stays, ever). In summary, this is a beautiful property, like staying in a wonderfully maintained garden of eden. Lots of wildlife on site: monkeys, birds, reptiles, etc. Other positives- great pool; best pina colada I've ever had; over the top smoothies; very cool nature trails (if not flooded). However- THERE IS NO PRIVACY. I capitalize because this caught me most off guard- people will be walking right by your screened windows, mere feet from you. You can pull the shades, which a lot of folks did, but THE ROOMS ARE HOT. Even on the top floor. Sleeping is an issue. I can't imagine a ground level room where the stairs are inches from your window so that your view is down and into the lower from room. Also, the staff is . . . reserved. We stayed 5 days, and the entire time felt as if we were interrupting the staff if we had a question. Excepting the restaurant staff (who were wonderful), not one staff member introduced themselves. Finally, it is pretty expensive. So, for detail, first the privacy issue: our building had three rooms per floor, with big, screened windows. If on the downstairs ends, everyone upstairs will be looking directly down into the room while ascending/descending the stairs. If upstairs, on the ends, folks can see into your room when they walk to and from the stairs. Moreover, everyone can hear everything. Because your room is all screens, it's like a very expensive Boy Scout camp. It does force a civil tongue, on the bright side....with some guests, anyway. It is hot. It does begin to cool somewhat around midnight, but even so you will find yourself praying for a rainstorm and their blessed cooling breezes. And it rained a lot while we were there, so I anticipate it was actually cooler than normal. The following may simply be cultural for this area, but the attitude of the hotel staff (not restaurant/bar) is somewhat aloof. There just isn't much enthusiasm shown considering what the area has to offer. You better know what you want to do before you get there, because there isn't much guidance available once you've arrived. Everyone was perfectly friendly, once engaged, but not outgoing whatsoever. This is in contrast to our experiences everywhere else we have stayed in CR, and it caught us off guard. We started on the wrong foot, as when we arrived, after a rather lengthy travel, we were greeted with directions to sit and wait for the associate who would give us the hotel brief. I would mention a name, or names, but as I said, no one introduced themselves, or even offered a greeting. The guides are pretty uninterested and, compared to the half-dozen other local guides we have had in the past, are not terribly knowledgeable. Some host training would go a long way here. The restaurant food was average, the staff was great. Fantastic bartender. Don't order the sea bass, but the tenderloin was very good. Also, if you are a fan of patacones, order the french fries here. Lastly, careful if you want to try a bottle of local brew- Libertas. They are $8 each and, oddly, the same price as a cocktail. The kayak excursion was decent, but nothing special. The guide, of course, never introduced himself. He didn't know much, frankly. Lastly, if you decide to come: 1. If coming from La Fortuna--There is a new highway (4) from La Fortuna to Guapiles, that opened a few months ago, that will save you 1.5-2 hours. The hotel directions are out of date. Google/Waze directed me to the new route, so I called the hotel staff, and they said stick with the directions. Take the new route, it cut a 5 hour drive to 3 hours. 2. Once you get to the river boat dock in La Pavona- you will have to pay to park. Pay by credit card as they screw you on the exchange rate. They do take credit cards, we found out on the way out, although the guard on the way in told us they didn't. Keep the receipt for exit on the way out. Also, there are private boats for hire that can take you to Tortuguero if you arrive before the public transportation boat's schedule. They are generally cheaper than the Lodge boat, if there are plenty of other customers. We paid $10/person and the lodge charges $20/person. 3. I would recommend making arrangements for a guide in Tortuguero for your excursions. The lodges here all go to the same places- we got to kayak with bunches of folks either in boats or also kayaking. From the Tripadvisor reviews, you apparently can find guides who will take you to less frequented locations. Kayaking was $306 for the four of us in two kayaks (we shared one with each of our kids). Even the evening walk was $38/person...which I think was the least expensive excursion. 4. The dinner entrees average $19/23, dessert ~$8/9; lunch and breakfast ~$10/12 per entree. Any substitutions, say patacones instead of potatoes-a bad move, will leave you with no potatoes and a $4 charge for patacones...just so you know. Also, don't skip the trails if they are open. Sure they are wet, and a touch buggy, but it is a great rainforest walk, and isn't that why you came?

Our 1 night stay was really special. The hotel is great. Small pool but the rooms are just lovely. The grounds have amazing trails and they run regular tours with the onsite guides. The staff really make this place. Carmen Chavarria who works on reception went above and beyond to make the night (my 30th Birthday) memorable and made our stay unforgettable. Thank you to the whole team. We'd love to come back again ...(hopefully soon!)

Just checked in so can’t give a full report, but being in “the middle of nowhere” for bird and wildlife viewing, and some guest has a drone. Staff said they allow this. Hard for the rest of us who came here for the nature, and then have someone flying a drone around. Wildlife does not like it. Thought I’d let people know before hand if you think you are coming for the nature side of things.

The staff at this stunningly beautiful lodge are welcoming, warm, helpful and above all knowledgeable about the wildlife all around. The minute you arrive by boat, you are greeted with the frindly welcome that continues all thro the stay. The tours thro the rainforest on foot or by boat or kayak are excellent, the food very good, rooms delightful and comfortable- and the infinity pool fabulous. This place is a must during a stay in Costa Rica.

Excellent food and service! Top rate tour guides. Eddie Brown wonderful man to fish for the diver king Tarpon! Really loved the way hosts bid you welcome and tell you goodbye. Memorable vacation and fond memories of staff.

Across the river Tortuguero Limon

Hotel highlights

  • Free WiFi in rooms and public areas
  • Onsite dining
  • Outdoor pool

Within a short distance of Tortuga Lodge and Gardens are Sea Turtle Conservancy and Cuatro Esquinas Island. This 26-room, 3.5-star resort has a restaurant along with conveniences like an outdoor pool and free in-room WiFi. It's on a river and also close to Tortuguero National Park Office.


Sit down for a leisurely bite to eat at the onsite family restaurant, or enjoy a drink at the bar/lounge. Start each morning off right with cooked-to-order breakfast served for a fee.


Tortuga Lodge and Gardens's 26 rooms provide furnished balconies, ceiling fans, and laptop-compatible safes. Guests can expect to find free WiFi. Hair dryers are also available.

Property features

Tortuga Lodge and Gardens features an outdoor pool, free WiFi in public areas, and coffee in a common area. Front-desk staff can help with tours or tickets, and provide local restaurant recommendations. This resort also has a computer station.

Room options

River View Upstairs Balcony Room

Full 2 | Sleeps 4

River View Downstairs Junior Suite

Full 1 | King 1 | Sleeps 5

Reviews from Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor aggregated rating

95.0% of guests recommend this hotel

Total of 1226 reviews