I am writing this post to make people aware that when they are traveling by public transport from San Jose to Tortuguero that there is no need to pre buy the boat portion of the trip. I make this trip weekly and I see people getting overcharged on every trip. Most tourists are approached while they are on the bus (if not before) while they are waiting to depart San Jose. They are sold a ticket for the bus portion from Cariairi to Pavona and the boat from Pavona to Tortuguero for $7:00 per person. The fare is C1000.00 for the bus and C1600.00 for the boat. Round off the exchange and it is more than a $2:00 saving per person.
As well when in Cariairi you no longer have to change bus depots to get the best fare. You can stay at the depot that you arrive at (referred to as new depot) and board the local bus to Pavona on the street in front of the bus station. Just pay the driver the C1000.00 The bus then goes to the old station and loads the rest of passengers. As this bus is usually full it is great to get first pick of the seats. Not all the rows have the same leg room so check them out and get the best seats you can. As well this bus now departs at 11:30 at the old depot instead of 12:00. You don’t have much of a wait from the San Jose 9:00 bus.
When you get to Pavona you have your choice of boat companies. It is not for me to say which is better. If you have a fair amount of baggage then you should let the locals “help” and they will carry your bags just to get you on the one company’s boat. I assume they get a commission from the boat company but they sure won’t refuse a tip as well. If you carry your own bags you can board either company’s boats. I usually see which boat has the lightest load and take it. Just remember the fare is C1600.00
Just remember to pay as you go and you will get the best fare and have the best options. Enjoy the trip.