One of the most important things to know about visiting Tortuguero is that you’ll need to take a boat or small plane to get there. This village on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast is surrounded by water, with no good roads around. Luckily, taking a boat up the canals is a fun and scenic way to arrive. In this post, we’ll tell you about accessing Tortuguero from Cano Blanco boat dock.
Boat Taxi Access Points to Tortuguero
Before we cover Cano Blanco, we’ll explain about the two other places where you can take a boat taxi to Tortuguero.
The most common is La Pavona. La Pavona is located inland near the town of Guapiles, about one hour off Highway 32. The boat ride from La Pavona to Tortuguero used to take a little over one hour. However, due to low river levels, the ride has been taking much longer than normal so fewer lodges and tour companies are using it now. La Pavona has a public boat taxi that operates daily on a set schedule.
Another access point is Moin, just north of the port of Limon. This ride is much longer (around 3-4 hours) and more expensive. Moin doesn’t have a public boat. Boat taxis are arranged informally through local captains.
For more information about these and other ways to get to Tortuguero, read our post, Getting to Tortuguero.
Location and Directions
Cano Blanco is located close to the Caribbean coast, not far from the village of Parismina.
You can self-drive to Cano Blanco or take a shuttle van. If you need help arranging a private shuttle from San Jose, feel free to contact us through our Shuttle Booking page.
If you’re driving from San Jose, you’ll take Highway 32 east. Once you reach the small city of Siquirres, get off the highway and take Route 806. This is a side road. It starts as pavement but turns to dirt in about 20 minutes. Portions are paved, while others are still dirt with a lot of bumps. The road is flat, though, so you don’t need a 4×4 vehicle. An SUV with higher clearance for the bumps would make for a more comfortable ride.
The drive from Siquirres takes you through the heart of Costa Rica’s banana plantations. You’ll pass hectares and hectares of banana fields and catch glimpses of Dole’s and Chiquita’s processing plants.
On the sides of the road in a few places, you even can see the banana tracks that they use to move the large bunches of bananas to the packing plant. These are known as “banana trains.”
The total drive time from when you get off the highway to Cano Blanco is about 1.5 hours. Here is a map link to the exact location of the boat docks.
Arriving at Cano Blanco
When you’ve arrived at Cano Blanco, the road will end. You’ll see an old sign and a lot of other cars around. In front of you will be the beautiful Parismina River.
Someone working will take your plate number and help you park. They have a secure, guarded lot. As always in Costa Rica, though, we don’t recommend leaving anything inside your car just in case.
Parking is 3,000 colones (about $5.50 USD) per day.
Next to the parking lot is a rustic open-air building with bathrooms ($1 per person to use) and a few tables.
They also sell basic refreshments like bottled drinks and chips. Prices are a little high. We recommend stocking up in advance if you’d like something for the boat ride. Siquirres, the town where you turn off the highway, has a lot of stores.
The boat ride from Cano Blanco to Tortuguero takes around 1.5-2 hours. But you hardly realize it since it is such a lovely ride.
As you glide along the calm waters of the canals, you’ll get to enjoy views of the stunning green landscape. Thick mangrove fills the riverbank, with towering trees mixed in.
It’s not unusual to spot wildlife along the way as well. On our trips, we have seen crocodiles, caimans, and many types of birds.
You’ll pass a few houses, but this area is very remote without much around. Parts of it cut through Tortuguero National Park and is protected.
The ride itself is comfortable. The boats vary but are typically medium-sized (holding up to around 20-30 passengers) and sit lower on the water, making for a smooth ride. In case of rain, they usually have plastic windows that roll down.
Arranging a Boat Taxi from Cano Blanco to Tortuguero
Most people accessing Tortuguero through Cano Blanco will be doing so because their lodge suggested it. Some lodges, like Tortuga Lodge where we have stayed, offer boat transport from Cano Blanco only.
A few shuttle companies offer van transport from San Jose, Arenal, etc. to Cano Blanco, then take you by boat the rest of the way to Tortuguero. Prices are around $55-75 per person for shared service. If you lodge needs you to depart from Cano Blanco, a private shuttle van from San Jose to the dock is around $235-260. You can check rates here.
Be sure to arrange your boat taxi in advance. There are no public boats in Cano Blanco so you can’t just show up.
Have a question about taking a boat taxi from Cano Blanco to Tortuguero? Ask us below.
Looking for more information to plan your trip? Here are some articles:
Getting to Tortuguero: Covers flying and other launch points for boat taxis to Tortuguero.
Sea Turtle Nesting Tour: A night turtle watching tour is one of the most unique activities you can do in Costa Rica. Learn about our experience with this post.
Costa Rica Rental Car Discount: If you’re renting a car for your trip, be sure to check out our discount through one of Costa Rica’s most trusted companies.