Hop aboard the Bay Island Princess yacht and come explore Costa Rica's newest national park, San Lucas Island National Park in the Gulf of Nicoya. Once home to Costa Rica's most notorious criminals housed in the Isla San Lucas Prison, the island is now home to Costa Rica's most notorious Congo monkeys. History & nature collide making this Isla San Lucas tour from San Jose one of the most unique experiences on you can have on your Costa Rica vacation.
Isla San Lucas Prison - Island of the Lonely Men
Although some pre-Columbian sites and traces of an ancient burial place have been found on San Lucas Island, the true interest is the remains of the impressive prison that was housed here. Its historic dock, the only one standing today and still in use, will welcome us. Accompanied by our expert bi-lingual tour guides, we will explore what has often been compared to Alcatraz and Devil’s Island. The Prison of San Lucas was once the final destination for Costa Rica’s worst criminals. And according to local stories, the backdrop of horrific tortures and injustices endured by its prisoners.
Having remained in operation for over 100 years (from 1873 to 1991), today the former buildings of this penal island are considered cultural heritage. The vestiges include; the historical dock, a church, the medical dispensary, two temporary holding cells where the prisoners would stay in for days before being allocated to their cells, a three story main building that housed the administration headquarters and exemplifies the architectural design that existed in the country during the 1930’s-40’s, a large concrete disc used to hold the complex’s tank for water supply and finally the prison cells, which feature varied levels of security according to the type of criminals these will keep captive within their fortified walls.
The cells’ walls have become equally famous due to the graphic expressions found all over them, portraying the thoughts and emotions of the inmates. The now-famous graffiti found on these walls convey the frustration, despair, hope and faith of its prisoners. According to former inmates’ accounts, the graffiti are a later form of expression of the prisoners confined in this penal center, but these are true example of the culture predominating inside the jail at the time. Our knowledgeable guides will walk you through this collection of emotional expression and, if accompanied by minors, will advise which cells contain a stronger graphic content for you to avoid.
San Lucas Island National Park & Monkey Sanctuary
After touring San Lucas prison, its time to clear our head and head out into nature. But first, lets fill our bellies! We will take a break for a delicious lunch to recharge our batteries before taking a short hike through the nature trails on the island that lead to Cocos beach. San Lucas Island was just officially declared a national park in August of 2020 due to the biodiversity found here. Aside from the troops of howler monkeys that are famous on the island, don’t be surprised if you spot white-tailed deer, raccoons, skunks, anteaters or bats! At least 8 different species of bats have been documented around the old prison buildings.
After lunch, you will have about an hour of free time to explore the full kilometer of white sandy beach. You can take a dip in the shallow water, bask in the sun, or explore the nature trails seeking out more wildlife in the tropical dry forest of Isla San Lucas National Park & monkey sanctuary.
Isla Pajaros Bird Watching
On our way back to Puntarenas, the boat will make a tour around, Isla Pajaros, or Bird Island as it is aptly named. Your guide will point out the different species of migrating and nesting birds that have this island all to themselves. Grab your cameras, if you are lucky enough, we will pass just in time for sunset! Not to worry though, if you miss the sunset from the boat, you can catch it later from the beachfront boardwalk in Puntarenas. Here you will have an hour to explore the famous boardwalk, shop for souvenirs, or sample a favorite local treat, a "Churchill" shaved ice. Yum!!
If you are looking for a truly unique boat tour in San Jose, Isla San Lucas is the one for you! Best of all, The Real Deal tours always offers the best deals in Costa Rica too. So don't wait. Book your discount San Lucas Island Tour in Costa Rica today!
San Lucas Island Costa Rica From San Jose Tour Details
San Lucas Island Tour Includes:
* Bilingual guides and crew throughout drive, boat ride and San Lucas Island experience
* Ground Transportation: Round trip or continuing transportation from: San Jose or Jaco (Additional charges apply for Smart Connection continuing transportation)
* Continental breakfast on board the ground transportation in route to the pier
* Boat ride to Isla San Lucas via the Bay’s Princess Yacht
* Coffee & cookies as you board the boat in the morning
* Fresh fruit boat ride to Isla San Lucas
* Entry fee to Isla San Lucas Prison & guided tour
* Entry fee to San Lucas Island National Park & monkey sanctuary
* Unlimited water and natural juices during the tour
* Cash bar on the boat
* Delicious lunch of chicken & rice, salad, roasted potatoes and a yummy banana cake for dessert
* Bird watching Isla Pajaros on the return boat trip
* Free time to explore the Puntarenas beachside boardwalk and souvenir shops
Departures: Wednesdays – Sundays (Operator requires a minimum of 10 persons to operate the tour, see notes below*).
Length: 8 Hours from Puntarenas Pier, approximately 12 hours with transportation depending your hotel.
7:30 am: Hotel pick ups
10:00 am: Arrive to Puntarenas Pier to board the boat
11:00 am: Arrive to Isla San Lucas Prison & guided tour
1:00 pm: Lunch on Isla San Lucas
2:00 pm: Hike to Cocos Beach monkey sanctuary & beach time
3:30 pm: Board the boat for Isla Pajaros bird watching
4:45 pm: Arrive back to Puntarenas Pier
5:00 pm: 1 Hour free time to explore the Puntarenas beach front boardwalk & shops
6:00 pm: Board transportation for return
8:00 pm: Arrive back to San Jose
San Lucas Island Tour Recommendations:
* Comfortable light layers (it can be chilly on the boat in the mornings)
* Swimsuit & towel
* Change of clothes
* Sun hat & sun glasses
* Biodegradable sunblock or UV protective clothing
* Small day pack
* Refillable water bottle
* Cash for tour balance, cash bar, souvenirs & extra tips for your guides
Children: Children ages 3 to 11 pay a discounted rate. Children under 3 are free!! The history of Isla San Lucas Prison is fascinating, but also maybe a bit too creepy for children.
Restrictions: This tour is suitable for most all ages so long as you do not have mobility issues. You will need to be able to walk a good distance on the island during the tours.
Special Discounts!! Ask us about student discounts and special pricing for Costa Rica Nationals and Residents with ID. We consider all of Centro America our neighbors, so we have special discounts for nationals from Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua & Panama too!!
*Minimum Booking Note: Departures to Isla San Lucas from San Jose & Jaco require a minimum of 4 passengers. If there are less than 4 in your group, contact us and we can check available dates. You can also opt to drive yourself to Puntarenas Pier for departure at the discounted rate. But the minimum of 10 total pax is required to operate the tour regardless of your departure location.
Insider Tip: Before you arrive, check out a copy of Jose Leon Sanchez’s book, "La Isla de Los Hombres Solos". This is a firsthand account of life on this island prison and the base of what most historians consider to be a factual account of day-to-day happenings while the island was an active prison. If you enjoy a bit of off the beaten path quirky destinations, you may want to check out our blog on other Spooky Haunts in Costa Rica.
About Your Online Reservation: Booking online does not guarantee that spaces are available and your reservation is confirmed. Our reservation offices are open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm CST daily and we do our best to confirm your reservation and send your confirmed voucher with meeting instructions within 24 hours. If you are booking a tour in less than 24 hours in advance, we recommend you contact us to check availability for you.
Reserve Your Isla San Lucas Tour From San Jose Now
The Real Deal: $91.00
The Real Deal: $73.00
Isla San Lucas Tour From Puntarenas deposit is $15.00 per Adult and $10.00 per Child.
(The balance of $76.00 per Adult and $63.00 per Child must be paid 72 hours prior the day of the tour)
Departure times will be in your e - ticket.
The Real Deal: $95.00
The Real Deal: $85.00
Isla San Lucas Tour From San Jose deposit is $15.00 per Adult and $15.00 per Child.
(The balance of $80.00 per Adult and $70.00 per Child must be paid 72 hours prior the day of the tour)
Departure times will be in your e - ticket.
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