Costa Rica offers an endless number of things to do for all levels of activity and interests. We have visited Costa Rica a couple of times and the Crocodile Adventure on the Tarcoles Rivers remains one of the craziest things we did.
If you are interested in seeing crocodiles in Costa Rica up close and personal taking one of the Crocodile Adventure River Cruises is the best way to do that. You can also see crocodiles from the Crocodile Bridge, but I highly recommend taking a river tour.
Where is Tarcoles River
Tarcoles River spans over 69 miles starting on the southern slopes of the Cordillera Central volcanic range and flows in a south-westerly direction to the Gulf of Nicoya. When heading south on Ruta 34 to Jaco or Antonion Manuel National Park you will have to cross the Crocodile Bridge over the Tarcoles River.
Tarcoles River Crocodile Bridge
The Crocodile Bridge has become so popular in Costa Rica that locals have opened souvenir stores, restaurants, and ice cream shops right before the bridge to attract visitors. It is also an excellent location to take a pit stop and stretch your legs if tired of driving on your way to Jaco or Manuel Antonio National Park.
The bridge has a pedestrian barrier on both sides of the road running the entire length of the bridge, where pedestrians can safely walk and be able to see the crocodiles. Once on the bridge, simply look below and you will see a sea of crocodiles swimming or sunbathing. It is an astonishing sight.
Tarcoles Riverboat Adventure
Riverboat adventure allows you to get much closer to the crocodiles and see other wildlife in and around the river. We booked our tour through Jose’s Crocodile River Tour, and this post is about our experience during the tour.
The riverboat adventure tour lasted approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. Departure times are every two (2) hours between 8 am and 4 pm. The cost is $40 per person.
Before getting on the boat, you will get an opportunity to use the facilities, get some refreshments, and be introduced to the tour guide. It is a short walk from the parking lot to the boat and on the short walk, we lucked out seeing a toucan hanging around.
Our tour had 22 people on the boat, and it did not feel crowded at all. First, you will head northward from the dock toward the crocodile bridge direction. The mountain views of Carara National Park automatically take your attention. Shortly after, the guide will start pointing out birds and crocodiles. The crocodiles are very territorial and tour guides get familiar quickly with where they hide and how to lure them out.
The tour guide and the captain are very entertaining but also extremely cautious when it comes to everyone’s safety. You will see crocodiles from babies to 20 feet long, exotic birds, iguanas, and possibly monkeys and snakes.
The last part of the tour is cruising through the mangrove forest where all the baby crocodiles hide for the first couple of years of their life. When deep in the mangrove forest, the tour guide may ask for a moment of complete silence, and it gets eerily quiet in the middle of nowhere.
The tour finishes with a ride close to the Gulf of Nicoya and back to the dock.
On our way out we saw a couple of beautiful Macaws sitting in the tree.
What to Expect
The crocodiles are fed by the tour company during this ride.
The Tarcoles River is one of the most polluted rivers in Costa Rica, not just chemicals but tires and plastics. The locals come out and clean the river once a year and according to our guide collect over 40 tons of trash each year. Please respect this and don’t throw anything in the river.
The guide is very entertaining but also highly informative and cautious about everyone’s safety at all times.
You will receive one bottle of water, bring more with you if you need more.
Bring sunscreen and a poncho, in Costa Rica, you usually need one or the other.
Other helpful posts…