Welcome to The Crocodile Bridge in Tarcoles, Costa Rica, a unique destination offering an unparalleled wildlife viewing experience. This bridge, nestled in the heart of Costa Rica, is a gateway to observing one of nature’s most formidable creatures – the crocodile, in its natural habitat. Join us as we delve into this extraordinary location’s history, significance, and tourist appeal.

History of the Crocodile Bridge

The Crocodile Bridge has a rich history that adds to its significance. Located over the Tarcoles River, the bridge is home to one of the largest crocodile populations in the world. The bridge was built to provide a safe passage across the river. Still, over time, it has become a hotspot for tourists and locals alike who come to marvel at the sight of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. The bridge’s history is intertwined with the conservation efforts in Costa Rica, making it a symbol of the country’s commitment to preserving its unique wildlife.



Why Visit the Crocodile Bridge

So, why should the Crocodile Bridge be on your list of places to visit in Costa Rica? Here are a few compelling reasons:

  • Unique Experience: Where else can you safely observe a large congregation of crocodiles in the wild? The bridge offers a unique vantage point to watch these creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Apart from crocodiles, the area around the bridge is teeming with other wildlife species. Birdwatchers will be delighted with the variety of avian species in the area.
  • Photography Opportunities: The bridge offers excellent opportunities for photography enthusiasts to capture stunning images of crocodiles and scenic landscapes.
  • Education and Awareness: Visiting the bridge is also an educational experience. It raises awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation and the role each one of us can play in it.

To make the most of your visit, check out this Costa Rica Wildlife Guide and these handy Costa Rica Travel Tips. These resources will ensure a safe and enriching experience at the Crocodile Bridge.



How to Get There

Reaching the Crocodile Bridge in Tarcoles is relatively straightforward. It’s located on the main highway (Route 34) that runs along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. If you’re coming from San Jose, the capital city, it’s about a 1.5-hour drive. Public buses between San Jose and the popular tourist destinations of Jaco and Manuel Antonio also pass by the bridge.

Once you reach the bridge, there’s a small parking area on the north side where you can safely leave your vehicle. From there, it’s just a short walk to the bridge. For a more detailed travel guide, consider using a Costa Rica Adventure Tours service to ensure a smooth journey.



What to Expect

When you visit the Crocodile Bridge, be prepared for an exciting wildlife viewing experience. As you walk across the bridge, look down to see dozens of large crocodiles basking in the sun or swimming in the river. It’s a sight that’s both thrilling and a little intimidating.

Remember, safety is paramount. Crocodiles are wild animals, and while attacks are rare, it’s important to maintain a safe distance. Railings along the bridge provide a secure viewing platform.

In addition to crocodiles, the area around the bridge is a haven for birdwatchers, with species such as herons, kingfishers, and ospreys frequently spotted.



How large are the crocodiles

The crocodiles at the Tarcoles Bridge in Costa Rica are typically quite large, with many individuals reaching lengths of up to 12 to 15 feet. Some of the largest crocodiles have even been reported to exceed 20 feet long. These are among the world’s largest American crocodiles, making visiting the Tarcoles Bridge, a truly unique experience for wildlife enthusiasts.



Tarcoles River: Freshwater or Salty

The Tarcoles River in Costa Rica is a freshwater river. However, it’s worth noting that it empties into the Pacific Ocean, and as such, the lower part of the river near its mouth can have some degree of saltwater intrusion, especially during high tide. This mix of freshwater and saltwater environments can contribute to the area’s biodiversity.



Tips for Visiting

To make your visit to the Crocodile Bridge a memorable one, here are some useful tips:

  • Best Time to Visit: Crocodiles are most active during the hottest parts of the day, so plan your visit accordingly.
  • Photography Tips: Bring a zoom lens for your camera to capture close-up shots of the crocodiles without getting too close.
  • Don’t Feed the Crocodiles: Feeding wildlife disrupts their natural behavior and can make them associate humans with food, which can lead to dangerous encounters.
  • Don’t Get Too Close: Always maintain a safe distance from the crocodiles. They are faster than they look and can be very dangerous if they feel threatened.
  • Don’t Swim in the River: The Tarcoles River is home to a large population of crocodiles. Swimming in the river is not safe and is strongly discouraged.
  • Don’t Throw Objects at the Crocodiles: Throwing objects at the crocodiles is not only disrespectful, but it can also provoke them and lead to aggressive behavior.
  • Don’t Cross the Safety Barriers: The safety barriers are there for a reason. Stay behind them at all times to ensure your safety.
  • Don’t Try to Pet or Touch the Crocodiles: No matter how calm they may seem, crocodiles are wild animals and can react unpredictably if they feel threatened. Always observe them from a safe distance.




In conclusion, the Crocodile Bridge in Tarcoles is more than just a bridge; it’s a gateway to the rich and diverse wildlife of Costa Rica. Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or an adventure seeker, the bridge offers something for everyone. From the thrill of seeing large crocodiles up close to the joy of spotting various bird species, the experiences you’ll have at the bridge are truly unique and unforgettable. So, pack your bags, follow our tips, and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime at the Crocodile Bridge in Tarcoles, Costa Rica.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]


Frequently Asked Questions


How many crocodiles are in the Tarcoles River?

The Tarcoles River is known to have one of the world’s largest crocodile populations, with estimates ranging from hundreds to even thousands of crocodiles.

What kind of crocodiles are in the Tarcoles River?

The Tarcoles River is primarily inhabited by the American crocodile, a species that is native to the Americas and can grow up to 15 feet in length.

How do you get to Crocodile Bridge in Costa Rica?

The Crocodile Bridge is located on the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, near the town of Tarcoles. It’s easily accessible by car or bus from major cities like San Jose.

Can you swim in the Tarcoles River?

Swimming in the Tarcoles River is not recommended due to the large population of crocodiles and the potential risk they pose.

How common are crocodile attacks in Costa Rica?

While crocodile attacks in Costa Rica are relatively rare, they do occur. It’s important to always maintain a safe distance from these creatures and never provoke them.

Are crocodiles in Costa Rica aggressive?

Crocodiles can be aggressive, especially if they feel threatened. However, as long as you respect their space and observe them from a safe distance, they generally pose little threat to humans.

What is the most crocodile-infested river?

The Tarcoles River in Costa Rica is often considered one of the most crocodile-infested rivers in the world due to its high crocodile population.

Do you have to worry about crocodiles in Costa Rica?

While there are many crocodiles in Costa Rica, they generally do not pose a threat if you observe safety precautions. Always maintain a safe distance and never attempt to feed or provoke them.

Which river has the most crocodiles?

The Tarcoles River in Costa Rica is known for having one of the highest densities of crocodiles in the world.

What animals live in Tarcoles River?

In addition to crocodiles, the Tarcoles River is home to a variety of wildlife, including numerous bird species, iguanas, and sometimes even monkeys. It’s a biodiversity hotspot that attracts wildlife enthusiasts from around the world.



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