They say you should never smile at a crocodile, but that doesn’t seem to stop visitors to crocodile bridge who enjoying smiling at them, waving and just silently watching in awe. The bridge, which spans the Tarcoles River, is located in Tarcoles about 20 minutes north of Costa Rica/Jaco. Over the years it has become a popular tourist stop along busy highway 34 for stretching legs and viewing an incredible site below: Long, narrow-mouthed crocodiles, sometimes dozens of them, wallowing in the muddy banks of the river. The thing that seems to impress most visitors is the size of the crocodiles. It’s not unusual to spot one 15 feet long or longer. A cottage industry has sprung up around this popular roadside attraction.
Food, refreshments and of course all things Crocodile are available for purchase. For a closer look Crocodile bridge is about 50 feet above the water. For those who desire a more up close and personal view of the crocs, there are Tarcoles river tours available. Here, bilingual guides interact with the crocodiles, which they have named. Bill Clinton is a favorite along with Beyonce, Shakira and Lady Gaga.
The guides seem to enjoy getting out of the boats and slapping the water with fish. This grabs the interest of the crocs, which eventually swim over and are hand fed a meal. The snapping shut of a giant croc’s jaws is a sound that will probably stay with you for a while. The tour also includes venturing into a mangrove estuary near the Pacific Ocean. If you love birds, you will enjoy kingfishers, blue herons, black hawks, osprey, caracara eagles and spoonbills. In the mornings and late afternoons it’s not unusual to spot scarlet macaws squawking noisily overhead along the river.
Carara National Park
It’s easy to make a day or two of it in the Tarcoles area near Jaco. Other things to do include visiting nearby Carara National Park, which features hiking trails, flocks of scarlet macaws and the amazing 656-foot high-Bijagual Waterfall.
- Crocodiles sleep with their mouths open to regulate their heat.
- Crocodiles can be up to 18 feet long and weigh 200 pounds.
- They have 24 sharp teeth, which are used for killing fish, birds, mammals and small crocodiles.
- Crocodiles don’t chew their food. They tear apart flesh and swallow large chunks of meat.
- They sometimes swallow stones to ensure faster grinding of the food in their stomach.
- The expression “crying crocodile tears” comes from the fact that crocodiles produce tears when they eat. They don’t feel sorry for what they’ve just killed, crocodiles produce tears from swallowing too much air.
- Crocodiles have one of the strongest bites in the animal kingdom. However, it’s possible to hold their jaws shut with your bare hands. The muscles that induce closing of the jaw are much stronger than muscles which open the jaw.
- Crocodiles have been known to live more than 80 years.