Costa Rica – The Crocodile Bridge


What? :

When you’re driving to the South Pacific coast (Jaco, Manuel Antonio,…), don’t miss the crocodile bridge that is crossing the large Tarcoles River.

Here you can see many large American crocodiles swimming in the river below the bridge in the wild.

It’s a popular tourist stop for those heading to the South Pacific and there are few restaurants and other stores just at the bridge.


Except the 1-2 USD tipping the people that arrange the parking, the bridge access is completely free to visit.


Expect to spend in this stop 15-30 min.

Where? :

Located on Costanera Sur Highway, Route 34. The crocodile bridge is in the small town of Tarcoles. Located 75 km southwest of San Jose (1.5 hours’ drive without traffic issues) and about a 30-minute drive north of Jaco city.

Google Map Link



When? :

Year round.

December to April is the dry season at Costa Rica and I recommend visiting the state when there is less chance for rain.

It’s also the most popular time to visit, so expect more tourists and crowds. Book things you know like hotel, park entries, rental car as far ahead as you can. 

When traveling to Costa Rica you should always be prepared for some showers no matter what time of year you are visiting.


Due note 1: Obviously it is unsafe place to swim 😊, also, Tarcoles River is considered to be the most polluted river in Costa Rica.



My thoughts:

Fun 30 minutes stop on our way south.

You can see the large American crocodiles swimming just below the bridge.



The visit:


If you’re driving, approaching the bridge from the north, you can park just before the bride on either side of the road where there is plenty of spaces to park.

Pay the people that arrange the parking (~1 USD).

Tipping parking attendant will also help to reduce the risk of car damage; in any case we never leave your car with luggage or other belonging alone.

If you are traveling with your luggage, take turns walking onto the bridge so that someone stays with the car, this is what we did.


There are many souvenir stores, restaurants, ice cream shops and bathrooms right at the bridge north end.


After parking your car, walk onto the bridge that is crossing the wide river.

There are protected pedestrian paths running the full length of the bridge. Be careful when crossing the busy road since cars drive very fast on the bridge.


The crocodiles move around, and you can see them from the bridge straight down below you, near the banks, or resting in the sun on sandy sections. There are almost always crocodiles there to see.


The adult crocodiles may reach sizes of 20 feet long (6 meters) and weigh up to 2,000 pounds (907 kg).

This river is considered to have the highest population of American crocodiles in the world.


In the past the crocodiles where fed by locals for tourist viewing but I do not think this is happening any longer (I read somewhere this is now illegal?).

We learned that there are many farming areas nearby that growing watermelons and when animals are crossing the river to reach the farms the crocodiles hunt them.


Crocodile river boat tours are available in the nearby town of Tarcoles, 10 minutes away from the south side of the bridge.

We did not have the time to do this activity so I can’t recommend, we did river boat tour in a different location.



Additional Pictures: