Because they're both on the Caribean coast, the 129-mile (208 km) trip between Tortuguero and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a bit more challenging than you might expect. Since there are no roads or airports in Tortuguero, you'll have to take a boat out.
There are two ports with boats heading to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to choose from, but either way, you'll take the 3.5-hour boat ride to Moín, where you'll then need to take overland transportation to get to your final destination. The best option is to take a private transfer, but you can also rent a car and drive yourself, or hop on a public bus to take you the rest of the way to your destination.
A note to remember: there are two places called Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica, so it's important to clarify Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Take a peek at this itinerary that takes you to both destinations on Costa Rica's dazzling Carribean.
By Boat and Private Transfer or Rental Car
Duration: 4.5 hours
Taking a boat and private driver is a great choice, especially if you are traveling with a group. Consider talking with a local specialist who can coordinate a private boat ride (at a time of your choosing) and have a car and driver waiting for you at the dock when your boat arrives in Moín. You won't have to worry about traffic and road conditions, and you can take stops whenever you'd like on your way to your hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
If you'd rather rent a car, you can also take a public boat out of Tortuguero and pick you your rental in Moín, but you'll first need to call a rental agency in Limón and have them drop it off at the dock. Find out if you will be charged for dropping the car off somewhere else, like San Jose, if you won't be coming back.
The roads in Costa Rica are good, but we recommend driving only during daylight hours and using a 4x4 vehicle when available. You'll head take Route 36 for 26 miles (41 km) until it turns into Route 256, which will take you right into Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
By Boat and Group Shuttle
Duration: 5 hours
The boat and shared shuttle is the second-best option for traveling between these two points. First, you will take a beautiful 3.5-hour boat ride, and then a shuttle will pick you up at the dock in Moín along with any other passengers. It's a good idea to book ahead of time to make sure you get a seat. After a one-hour drive, the shuttle will deliver you directly to your hotel in Viejo de Talamanca.
Consider talking to a local specialist, as it's possible to book the boat and shuttle as one coordinated trip, and this can take the hassle out of trying to make it to the dock on time.
By Water Taxi and Bus
Duration: 6.5 hours
You can take the public water taxi and a bus, but this option is not recommended as it can take quite a long time, and it involves multiple changes and timetables to keep up with.