Want to know how to get from San Jose to Drake Bay? In this post, we’ll share a summary of the four ways to get there and compare each option on duration, costs and level of comfort. For each option, we go into more detail to help you decide which transport provider to book with and where to buy your tickets.
What to expect when visiting Drake Bay
Drake Bay on the northern coast of Osa Peninsula is an unspoiled paradise looking out to the South Pacific Ocean.
This laidback town is a popular gateway to Corcovado National Park — an adventurer’s paradise. It is said to hold 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity and is home to a wide variety of animal species: tapirs, scarlet macaws, and jaguars are just some of them.
But Drake Bay is more than just a base camp, it’s a destination on its own. Its beaches are often empty and the waves are calm. Swimming, kayaking, snorkelling, diving, and even dolphin-watching are all popular activities in Drake Bay. Inland is just as exciting. You can go hiking, birdwatching, or mountain biking.
Another thing you should know is that you can only enter Corcovado through a guided tour. These tours can be booked from any of its basecamps in the Osa Peninsula. The most popular basecamps to visit Corcovado National Park are Puerto Jimenez and Drake Bay.
We also answer the following:
What is the best way to enter Corcovado National Park?
Is a day trip from San Jose to Corcovado worth it?
Which basecamp to chose: Puerto Jimenez or Drake Bay?
3 options to enter Corcovado National Park
The first decision you have to make when visiting Corcovado National Park is where you want to stay the night before.
See here the 3 different ways you can reach Corcovado National Park from San Jose.
Daytrip from San Jose. Easy and effortless, but it comes at a price.
Via Puerto Jimenez. This is the most popular destination to stay the night before you go to Corcovado.
Via Drake Bay. This is a destination in itself. It’s next to Corcovado National Park and offers many great activities in the area. It’s the place to choose when you have time to spend a few more days in the area.
Option 1: Direct from San Jose to Corcovado
Are you looking for a way to travel straight from San Jose to Corcovado National Park? It’s possible, but only through an organised day trip from San Jose ($375).
We would recommend this option only if you are short of time. If you have more time to spare, there is a lot more to see in the surroundings of Corcovado!
Instead of spending a whopping $325 (169,000 CRC) per person for a one-day tour, we recommend travelling independently to either Puerto Jimenez or Drake Bay and make your trips to Corcovado from there.
Option 2: From San Jose to Corcovado via Puerto Jimenez
Puerto Jimenez is the most common gateway point to visit Corcovado National Park. The town is located 30 km east of Corcovado and from here, you can access Corcovado through 4 (of the 5) different ranger stations. La Leona, Los Patos, Sirena and El Tigre.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean Puerto Jimenez is the best place to visit Corcovado.
Option 3: From San Jose to Corcovado via Drake Bay
If you have a bit more time, we recommend spending a couple of days in Drake Bay. What we love about is that Drake Bay is a destination in itself. It is a laidback town that will already allow you to see a lot of nature and wildlife before even entering the park.
Drake Bay is about 15 km away from the nearest entrance to Corcovado National Park, which is in San Pedrillo Ranger Station. Alternatively, you can also enter the park Via the Sirena entrance.
Via Drake Bay or Puerto Jimenez?
If you prefer to enter Corcovado National Park via Drake Bay, then you can check out our detailed guide on how to get from San Jose to Drake Bay.
If you don’t have the time to visit Drake Bay and want to enter Corcovado Park via Puerto Jimenez, you are at the right page! In the remaining of this post, we explain to you how to get from San Jose to Corcovado via Puerto Jimenez.
From Puerto Jimenez, you can simply book one of the many tours offered to Corcovado National Park. If your tour doesn’t include transportation, check out our guide on how to get from Puerto Jimenez to Corcovado National Park.
New to Drake Bay/Corcovado? Our compact Drake Bay/Corcovado guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Drake Bay/Corcovado!
Getting from Puerto Jimenez to Corcovado National Park
We recommend staying a day in Puerto Jimenez before setting off for Corcovado National Park early the next day. That’s so you can get to Corcovado with a fresh burst of energy and be able to make the most of your time there.
There are 5 ways to enter the 4 entrances of Corcovado National Park from Puerto Jimenez:
3-hour-15 minute collectivo (and hike) to La Leona
There are four ways to travel the distance of 355 km (221 miles) from San Jose to Drake Bay: by bus via puerto jimenez (8h40m), minivan via puerto jimenez (7h30m), private transfer via puerto jimenez (6 hours) and flight via puerto jimenez (1h40m). The journey takes between 1h40m - 8h40m and the quickest way is by flight via puerto jimenez. The lowest priced tickets start from $13 (7,000 CRC) for the bus via puerto jimenez.
The cheapest option from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez is the bus with fares starting from $13 (7,000 CRC). The bus journey can take between 8 and 10 hours. Note that this bus only leaves once a day.
Operated by Grupo Blanco, the lone bus from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez departs at 12:00 noon daily. The scheduled travel time is 8 hours and 40 minutes, but with the usual traffic, the journey might take up to 10 hours long.
You can buy your tickets from the bus station in San Jose, but we highly recommend that you pre-book your ride online via the Grupo Blanco website. There is a service charge that makes it $2 more expensive, but you can expect a seat on your desired travel date.
PRO TIP: Local travel links, including the bus station in San Jose, can attract thieves, so keep your belongings in sight. Don’t board the bus until your bigger bags are inside the luggage compartment, and be sure to get your luggage ticket. It’s best to keep smaller bags, containing your valuables, in front of you or between your feet, instead of in overhead storage.
San Jose to Drake Bay by Minivan via Puerto Jimenez
Starts from: $89 (47,000 CRC)
Cost: $89 (47,000 CRC)
More comfortable than the bus is a minivan shuttle from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez. Travel time is faster at 7.5 hours, but it also comes with a higher price, starting from $89 (47,000 CRC). The advantage is that it’s faster and also a door-to-door transfer.
When travelling by minivan from San Jose to Corcovado, there is also a way to go via Drake Bay. But this is not direct and can only take you up to Sierpe, from where you’ll have to transfer to a boat bound for Drake Bay.
Although minivans are more expensive than buses, they offer a few advantages. It’s just up to you whether they’re worth the extra cost.
Minivan shuttles are faster because minivans don’t make as many stops as the bus. You can complete the journey in around 7.5 hours, compared to a bus which can take up to 10 hours.
They include free hotel pick-up and drop-off so you won’t have to worry about finding your way to and from bus stations.
Minivan’s are generally safer, meaning you can be at ease with your belongings throughout the journey.
Super Shuttle and Easy Ride are two of the more trusted minivan operators for this route.
You’ll have to book them online at least a day before through their respective websites.
San Jose to Drake Bay by Flight via Puerto Jimenez
Starts from: $165 (87,000 CRC)
Cost: $165 (87,000 CRC)
The flight is definitely the fastest way from the capital to Puerto Jimenez. Even including transfers, travel time takes only 1 hour 40 minutes. Combined fares start from $165 (87,000 CRC).
We are not big fans of taking short-haul flights like this, but we have to admit that for this route, it does save you a lot of time. If you decide to fly, we would like to suggest adding a carbon compensation fee to reduce its high impact on the environment.
TIP: If you decide to travel by plane, please consider including a carbon compensation fee to reduce your impact on the environment.
Step 1: San Jose City Centre to San Jose Airport by Bus
Duration: 40 minutes
Costs: $1.10 (1,000 CRC)
Duration: 40 minutes
Costs: $1.10 (1,000 CRC)
San Jose Airport is located some 15 km northwest of San Jose city centre. To get there, you can take either a 40-minute bus or a 30-minute taxi.
The bus offers good value for money because it costs only $1.10 (1,000 CRC) per ticket. Buses are available all day from 04:00 to 23:00, with a 10-minute interval. They depart from TUASA Terminal in the city centre.
You won’t have a hard time finding the 2 companies operating on this route: TUASA (coloured red and white) and Station Wagon (coloured orange and yellow).
If your hotel is a bit far from the bus station, you can also go directly to the airport by taxi. You can hail a taxi from the street or thru the ride-hailing app Uber. Rates start from $25 (13,000 CRC).
PRO TIP: Uber is still not entirely legal in Costa Rica. Many tourists have had great experience using it, but there have also been rare cases of Uber rides being stopped in the middle of the journey. It’s best to confirm with your hotel whether it’s safe to use it before booking a ride.
Step 2: San Jose to Puerto Jimenez by Flight
Duration: 50 minutes
Costs: $160 (84,000 CRC)
Duration: 50 minutes
Costs: $160 (84,000 CRC)
Sansa Regional operates daily flights from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez. You can expect at least 2 flights daily if you travel in the off-peak season and up to 5 flights during the high season (December to April).
Rates start from $160 (86,000 CRC) for the 50-minute flight. We highly recommend booking your tickets early because airfares can go well beyond $200 during the tourist season.
Flights arrive at Puerto Jimenez Airport, which is located just on the eastern edge of the city centre. If you’re staying on a nearby resort, you can simply walk to your accommodation.
If your hotel is located in the heart of the city, you can take a 5 to 10-minute taxi for around $5 (3,000 CRC).
San Jose to Drake Bay by Private Transfer via Puerto Jimenez
Duration: 6 hours
Starts from: $380 (199,000 CRC)
Duration: 6 hours
Cost: $380 (199,000 CRC)
If you’re travelling in a group, it can be cheaper to take a private transfer from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez. Rates start from $380 (199,000 CRC) for a car that can accommodate 4 to 5 people. Bigger vehicles are also available for larger groups.
We’ve found three reliable companies offering private transfers for this route: Osa Wild, Easy Ride, and Super Shuttle.
Small groups can choose between Easy Ride (up to 4 people) and Super Shuttle (up to 5 people). You can book your private transfer through their own company websites.
If you’re with a larger group, you can also travel with Osa Wild, a popular tour operator for Corcovado National Park. They offer a 10-seater minivan for $590 (308,000 CRC). Osa Wild can be booked through BookAway, which is known for its excellent customer service.
If you’re looking for a secluded escape from the world, then Las Caletas Lodge is your place. The only ways to get to this hotel is by boat from Drake Bay, or a walk along the jungle path.
Not to worry, both your breakfast and dinner are included in the price of the room. It’s practically impossible to leave without having released some of your stress, as the lodge oozes peacefulness. Adding to that, only steps away you’ll find the perfectly blue ocean.
Hotel Finca Maresia is set slightly further back from the beach of Drake Bay. It’s surrounded by lush forest and greenery, where all you’ll be able to hear is the thriving wildlife.
There’s also an onsite bar and restaurant, so you won’t have to venture far for some delicious food or a refreshing drink. The cabin-style rooms with balconies, offer the perfect place to relax and admire the magnificent view. This place gets booked up in advance, so if you want to stay here, you better get booking!
Visiting Drake Bay and Corcovado is all about surrounding yourself in Costa Rica’s nature. Hotel Jacamar boasts the perfect balance between nature and luxury. Their flourishing gardens make you feel like you’re in the jungle, but their large and clean rooms create a space of comfort.
The staff are extremely hospitable, helping to organise your trip to Corcovado National Park. It’s location also makes it great for exploring the town.
Entering Casita Happy Feet, you’ll feel as if you’re being welcomed into Javier and his wife’s home. Javier has been a guide in Corcovado National Park for over 25 years now. Having him as your guide, with his enthusiasm, knowledge and experience, you’re guaranteed an incredible visit!
Every morning, even the early ones, you’ll awake to a delicious and freshly cooked breakfast, perfect for your day of adventures. The rooms are clean and homely.
Frequently Asked Questions about San Jose to Drake Bay
What is the distance from San Jose to Drake Bay?
The distance from San Jose to Drake Bay is 355 km (221 miles).
What is the fastest way to get from San Jose to Drake Bay?
The fastest way to get from San Jose to Drake Bay is by flight via puerto jimenez and takes 1h40m.
What is the cheapest way to get from San Jose to Drake Bay?
The cheapest way to get from San Jose to Drake Bay is by bus via puerto jimenez with ticket costs starting from $13 (7,000 CRC).
Rounding it up
We hope this guide was helpful in planning how to get from San Jose to Drake Bay. If there's anything else you're wondering about, drop us a comment and we'll do our best to answer you within a few days.
PS: If you've recently travelled this route, share your experience with fellow travellers and help us improve this post. Thanks for helping out our travel community!
Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.
Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.