I don’t know about you guys, but I grew up watching Steve Irwin AKA the Crocodile Hunter. I loved him, and he was an absolute legend (Rest in Peace). So naturally a couple months back when I decided to go to Costa Rica and heard rumors there were crocodiles, I begin to reminisce about my childhood watching Steve Irwin. Now excited. I begin to vigorously search “Best place to see crocodiles in Costa Rica” and sure enough I get a hit.
Jaco. That’s the place I need to be. Jaco is a small beach town on the western central coast of Costa Rica. It’s easily accessible from the San Jose international airport and is about a 1 and a half hour taxi ride. I had ubered there for $55 USD, which is half the price of a taxi. There are also buses that can transport you called Interbus.
As you get close to Jaco – maybe 30 minutes away, there is a large bridge where you can see some of the Crocodiles basking in the sun on the river banks.
But there are thousands you can’t see. Obviously, I wanted a bit more adventure after seeing the crocodiles from the bridge where I can get up-close and see these guys.. Because to be honest, it was a bit underwhelming. You are maybe 100 feet above the river, so it is a bit hard to see them. There are tours that take you on the Tarcoles River, where you can see the crocs from just a couple feet away in a boat… And even pet one if you want to.
After scouring TripAdvisor for the best tours, I had found Crocodile Man Tours. After reading several pages of reviews, I was convinced. This was my place.
The tour was absolutely fabulous. As soon as we got on we were handed a brochure with different birds we might see, which are native to the area. We saw maybe 10 different species of birds. I was pleasantly surprised about this part of the trip, because I had planned to just see some crocs and didn’t know this was included. Did we actually see crocodiles? It was no more than two minutes into the tour when we saw our first croc. I was a little nervous as the boat approached her, where she appeared to be staring back at us. But she seemed un-bothered and stayed in place. We took some pictures and carried on. Now for the action…..We proceed down the river and approach a sand bank in the center of the river. From the distance we see a croc resting. As we get closer he appears to be bigger and bigger like some sort of illusion. Now, we are less than 4 feet away and this guy looks like a dinosaur. It was insane to see such a huge animal and up so close.
The guide confirms the 24-foot croc (8 meters) is “Osama Bin Laden” the biggest croc they know of in the river. He was just a few feet shorter than the boat…. While I am there nervous AF he was just basking in the sun not even paying attention to us. His mouth was wide – open, which according to our tour guide is a way for him to cool off a little bit. And scare humans lifeless. Lol. Okay so we are still looking at him when I see another tour boat show up and their tour guide jumps off his boat into the little sand bank. He’s now walking closer to “Osama bin Laden”. Okay not he is putting his head near his open mouth… what is he doing?? Is he leaning to kiss her? Yes, he leans over to kiss the 24 foot croc’s mouth. Then takes a selfie with him. NBD. While I am there profusely sweating hoping that this croc doesn’t want a quick snack. Yes!! This was truly a tour to remember. Our guide was very knowledgeable about the local history, bird species AND spotting them. I swear he has an eagle eye. Last, it was spectacular to see the guide go up so close to the croc without him not even blinking an eye.
We saw maybe 5 crocs on the tour up close. It was a little freaky to know that there were thousands swimming under us that we just couldn’t see. According to our guide, National Geographic’s came out to the river in 2017 and counted over 2,000 in one day. If anybody is looking for a fantastic tour, then I’d highly recommend going with the Crocodile Man tour. There might be one or two other companies that offer similar tours in case you want to look around. We saw one other tour boat brand and the boat was packed to a brim. Our’s only had two other people on the boat with a capacity of 30 – This could have been a slow day for them though. Lucky us! So obviously this was an amazing tour and for every reason above I highly recommend it. After arriving there, I found out the guide who kissed the crocodile is famous in Costa Rica. Apparently people come from all over the world to see him do this. It was definitely amazing. But also equally as nerve-racking.