Females do not unanimously choose the single ‘best’ male, even when female choice is strong, such as in leks, or in polygynous mating situations. A possible explanation is that females base their choices on limited information, perhaps because gathering information is costly. We tested this hypothesis by continuously observing individual female marine iguanas throughout the mating period in order to document the information they gathered about each potential mate. Females actively visited approximately five additional males during the 3 d prior to copulation, compared to the males seen on their normal foraging routes. Females were more likely to visit large-bodied males, but preferentially copulated with the male that had the highest display rate of all males they visited. Females that mated on a dense territory cluster mated with more active males than did those that mated on dispersed territories. However, females on a dense cluster also lost more body mass, potentially as a consequence of high rates of interaction with males. This mass loss may represent an important cost and result from postural changes in response to male attention. Such costs may explain why females only gather a certain amount of information and why females on dispersed territories choose less active mates. Lack of complete information introduces subjectivity into female choice: what is perceived as best by one female may not be perceived as best by another. Thus, lack of complete information may prevent unanimity of female choice.