tarcoles bridge
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Don’t Miss the Crocodile Bridge in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Its lush rainforests, diverse wildlife, and breathtaking landscapes are a treat for families and individual travelers alike. 

One of the most exciting experiences is a visit to the legendary Costa Rica Crocodile Bridge. The bridge crosses the Tarcoles River and is a well-known stopping point between San Jose and popular beach towns. 

You’ll be amazed by the sheer quantity of American crocodiles that inhabit the waters below. The prehistoric-looking creatures are not only intimidating to look at, they’re huge!

The Tarcoles River has the highest population of crocodiles in the world. The massive reptiles can reach lengths of up to 15 feet. Many live to be 90 years old.

COCODRILE bridge

Getting to the Crocodile Bridge with Adobe

Getting to the famous bridge in Costa Rica with crocodiles is easy with Adobe Rent a Car. From our San Jose Airport rental office, the drive is usually under two hours. Most of the trip is on the major Highway 27 and Highway Route 34. 

Known as the Costanera Sur, Route 34 serves as the gateway to the Central and South Pacific coast beach towns. Playa Herradura, Jaco Beach, Manuel Antonio, Dominical, and the Osa Peninsula are favorite Pacific Coast destinations.

It is not necessary to rent a 4WD vehicle to visit the Tarcoles River Crocodile Bridge. An Adobe sedan, such as the Hyundai Verna, or similar, offers fuel economy and an affordable daily rate. 

If you plan to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, play it safe and rent a 4×4 or 2WD SUV. Our most popular car types in these categories are the 4WD Suzuki Vitara or the Geely GX3 2WD SUV. 

The added traction and lift are helpful assets when driving the coast’s steep and winding side roads.   

Adventure on the Tarcoles River

Not only are the huge crocodiles beneath the bridge a thrilling site, but the entire river valley is beautifully scenic. The river borders the Carara National Park. Both the bridge and the park are open year-round to visitors.

Carara Biological Reserve has the largest scarlet macaw population in the region. The park harbors a variety of ecosystems and river habitats. It is a favorite among birders for its vast number of bird species and other wildlife. 

Unfortunately, Tarcoles is Costa Rica’s most polluted river. Nonetheless, it is home to countless species of birds, reptiles, and animals. The government and private organizations are working hard to clean the river for the benefit of both humans and wildlife. 

cocodrilos

Seeing the crocodiles in Costa Rica bridge

Because the Tárcoles River is just north of Jaco Beach, most travellers to Costa Rica make a quick stop before continuing on. If you plan to do the same, make sure to park at one of the guarded parking areas. 

Remember to always close your windows and lock your vehicle no matter where you travel in Costa Rica. And make sure your valuables are out of site. Although petty theft isn’t common, it’s always best to be careful.

We recommend visiting Rio Tarcoles like the Costa Ricans do. Stop and enjoy the local restaurants and souvenir stores bordering the river. It’s a great way to feel the Pura Vida spirit of Costa Rica while enjoying homemade traditional cuisine. 

There are pedestrian walkways on either side of the bridge with guardrails. However, be extremely careful when crossing, as drivers move fast along the highway.

It’s also extremely important that you stay on the bridge and not stray down to the river below. The crocs may look like they’re dozing, but they move fast and can be aggressive. 

Don’t miss the Rio Tarcoles Crocodile Tour

If you love nature and can’t get enough of seeing giant crocs, don’t miss the Rio Tarcoles Crocodile Tour. Believe it or not, many visitors think the tour is the best part of the trip!

Crocodile Boat Tours originate in the small local town of Tarcoles. The town entrance is about a five-minute drive south of the bridge on Route 34. 

The Tarcoles River originates in the central Cordillera Mountain range. It runs a total of 111 kilometers (69 miles) before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. Its watershed covers a massive 2,121 square miles.

Countless reptiles and over 300 species of birds live in the habitats within and surrounding the river. The best way to witness these fabulous creatures is on the Crocodile Tour. 

What to expect on the Tarcoles Crocodile Tour

Tours depart from the Tarcoles dock in the early morning and afternoon. Guests will board a traditional panga river boat with open sides and a roof in case of rain.

The tour winds slowly up the wide Tarcoles River. Mangrove swamps and narrow islands are visited so passengers can spot wildlife. 

Among the river residents are American crocodiles, common basilisk lizards, caiman, iguanas, and hundreds of bird species. Each tour is guided by a bilingual guide who points out interesting landmarks andcreatures along the riverbanks.

Among the bird species are pelicans, herons, boatbills, egrets, and kingfishers. Don’t forget your binoculars and a camera to make the most of the trip. 

Depending on the tide, it’s usually possible to float up to the Tarcoles Bridge. The sandy shores of the river are a popular hangout for dozens of crocodiles. 

Some tours are more exciting than others. Many guides bring along chunks of raw chicken to entice the crocodiles to come closer to the tour boats. Feeding wildlife is prohibited, however, so you may not experience this scary feat.  

Enjoy an unforgettable day in Costa Rica with Adobe Rent a Car. The crocs are waiting!

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