How to get from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca?
Facing the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is our favourite destination on Costa Rica’s eastern coast. Its laidback vibe enchants surfing and yoga enthusiasts alike. Imagine amazing waves, turquoise waters, fine beaches, palm trees, and reggae music in the background!
But it’s not just the natural gifts that attract us to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. It’s the people and their beautiful culture. You’ll find a good mix of indigenous people and Afro-Caribbean residents, living in harmony with the many different nationalities that have decided to settle down here.
A note: there are two places called Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica. These are Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui (north of San Jose) and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (southeast of San Jose). Make sure you are going to the correct Puerto Viejo when booking and boarding your ride!
3 ways to get from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
There are 3 ways you can cross the 215km distance from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca: via a 4.5-hour bus, 5-hour minivan, or 4-hour private transfer. Expect to pay between 6,015 CRC ($10) and 142,735 CRC ($230).
On a budget? The bus is the cheapest option at 6,015 CRC ($10). They are also quite comfortable, you just have to be really careful of your belongings as petty theft is very common. The bus journey from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca takes around 4.5 hours.
For a door-to-door yet shared transfer, you can take a minivan for 31,650 CRC ($51). More expensive, but more convenient and without the hassle of finding a taxi from and to the bus terminals.
For group travellers, we recommend taking a private transfer from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. You can choose from different vehicles depending on how big your group is. Fares start from 142,735 CRC ($230) for a car that can fit 4 persons.
Itinerary from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
There are 7 daily trips available for the San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca route. They are all operated by Autotransportes MEPE. Below are their usual schedules, but note that some trips may not be available due to the pandemic.
If you want to confirm their availability beforehand, you can call their San Jose office through this number: +506 2257-8129.
A ticket costs 6,015 CRC ($10) and you can only buy one at their ticket office in Terminal Atlantico Norte, San Jose city centre. They are not available to buy online. There is always a chance of tickets selling out so if you can, drop by the terminal a few days early to purchase your ticket.
Total travel time takes around 4.5 hours. The buses make one stop at MEPE Terminal in Limon around 3 hours into the journey for food and bathroom break. They park at the MEPE Bus Stop in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca city centre.
PRO-Tip: Don’t lose sight of your belongings! Keep them secured even as you buy your bus tickets and until they are safely at the luggage compartment. Get your luggage ticket before boarding the bus. During the journey, put your smaller bags (with valuables) in front of you or between your legs, not on the overhead bin.
San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca by Minivan
Duration: 5 hours Cost: 31,650 CRC ($51)
A minivan is a perfect option if you prefer a ride that will pick you up from your hotel in San Jose and drop you off at your destination in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. You can get a shared minivan ride for 31,650 CRC ($51).
What we love about this option is that it saves you the hassle of finding your way to and from bus terminals. They’re also relatively safer, particularly from petty thieves. You can just sit back and relax until you reach your destination.
Travel time with a minivan from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca takes around 5 hours. It’s a bit longer than the bus because of the hotel pick-ups and drop-offs.
You can choose from 4 trusted companies: Interbus, Gray Line, Caribe Shuttle, and Tropical Tours Shuttle. If you’re coming from San Jose Airport, take Caribe as they offer free pick-up from there as well. You can see their schedules below.
For easy online booking, we recommend BookAway. They offer the cheapest rates for this route, sometimes even cheaper than if you book directly on the minivan’s company website. If you prefer to book with Tropical Tours, you’ll have to book through their own page.
If you’re looking for a cheaper private transfer, then you can also try renting a taxi. You should be able to get a 4-seater ride for around 124,120 CRC ($200). We recommend asking your hotel for help in finding a trustworthy driver. And remember to agree on the rate before getting on board!