How to Get From
San Jose to Santa Teresa

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Overview Compare Minivan Taxi Direct Bus Indirect Bus Flight To Stay

How to get from San Jose to Santa Teresa?

Lying on the northwest coast, Santa Teresa is Costa Rica’s surfer’s paradise. Thanks to its beautiful beaches, lush jungles, variety of wildlife, and world-class waves, this once quiet fishing village is now a popular tourist destination.

Santa Teresa is a world of its own. We love that it is still quite detached from the rest of Costa Rica. The roads leading to it are mostly unpaved which gives the town a more natural feel. And despite the unpaved routes, the town offers enough comforts and natural luxury that can keep you happy and entertained for weeks on end.

New to Santa Teresa? Check out this compact Santa Teresa guide to find the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Santa Teresa!

5 ways to get from San Jose to Santa Teresa (Sorted on popularity)

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Minivan4-6 hours53,000 CRC ($77)Book Minivan Tickets
Private Transfer4.5 hours181,000 CRC ($262) Book a Private Transfer
Direct Bus6 hours10,000 CRC ($14)Read article for more info
Indirect Bus7.5 hours11,000 CRC ($16.60)Book Bus Tickets
Flight1hr 50m104,000 CRC ($151.10)Book Flights

You can choose from 5 options when travelling the 185km distance from San Jose to Santa Teresa: a 4 to 6-hour minivan, a 4.5-hour private transfer, a 6 to 7.5-hour bus (direct or indirect), or a 2-hour flight (including transfers). Prices range between 10,000 CRC ($14) and 181,000 CRC ($262).

The minivan is the most convenient option as it is a direct trip and includes hotel pick-up and drop-off. You can choose to take an overland trip or a combined minivan and ferry trip. Tickets start from 53,000 CRC ($77) and total travel time is 4-6 hours.

Prefer a private ride? Private transfers from San Jose to Santa Teresa vary in size and level of luxury. Rates start from 181,000 CRC ($262) for a 4-seater car. As they don’t need to make unnecessary stops, you can complete the journey in just around 4.5 hours.

With prices starting from 10,000 CRC ($14), the direct bus is the cheapest option for this route. However, there is only one daily trip, so you would have to look for other options if you miss this only bus. Travel time is around 6 hours.

If you are looking for another budget-friendly option or miss the direct bus, you can take an indirect bus via Cobano. Combined fares start from 11,000 CRC ($16.60) and the entire trip takes 7.5 hours or more, depending on the traffic and stops.

There is no airport in Santa Teresa. If you want to travel by plane, you can take a 30-minute flight from San Jose to Tambor, and then take a taxi to Santa Teresa. Total travel time will take around 2 hours and combined rates start from 104,000 CRC ($151.10).

TIP: If you decide to travel by plane, please consider including a carbon compensation fee to reduce your impact on the environment.

Itinerary from San Jose to Santa Teresa

San Jose to Santa Teresa by Minivan

Duration: 4-6 hours
Cost: 53,000 CRC ($77)
Duration: 4-6 hours
Cost: 53,000 CRC ($77)

There are two options when taking the minivan or shuttle bus from San Jose to Santa Teresa.

First, you can take a minivan that travels overland up to Santa Teresa, which will take around 6 hours. The other option involves a minivan ride to Puntarenas ferry terminal, a ferry ride to Paquera, and another minivan ride to Santa Teresa. For this option, travel time is around 4-6 hours.

Overland journey with Interbus

The only minivan company that travels overland for the entire trip is Interbus. This minivan offers free hotel pick up and drop off. Total travel time overland is 6 hours, and tickets cost 42,000 CRC ($61).

For this route, the minivan makes a stop in Limona, a town in Guanacaste Province, north of San Jose. Here, you will get the opportunity to stretch your legs and you will be guided to another minivan bound for Santa Teresa.

Combined minivan/shuttle bus + ferry

All other companies involve a ferry ride. The first part of the journey is a minivan from your hotel or San Jose Airport to Puntarenas Ferry Terminal. You will then take either a ferry or a taxi boat. Once crossed, you will continue the journey overland to Santa Teresa.

Zuma Tours offers two options. For the second part of the trip, you can choose between a ferry and a taxi boat. The combined shuttle + ferry that departs at 14:00 is cheaper at 52,000 CRC ($75) but takes 6 hours. The taxi boat option takes only 4 hours overall but costs 66,000 CRC ($95).

Minivan schedule from San Jose to Santa Teresa

Minivan OperatorScheduleCosts
Paradise Shuttle06:00-11:4034,000 CRC ($49)
Buy Your Van Tickets
Suntrails06:30-12:3042,000 CRC ($61)
Buy Your Van Tickets
Interbus07:00-13:00 42,000 CRC ($61)
Buy Your Van Tickets
Zuma Tours
(ferry)
14:00-20:0052,000 CRC ($75)
Buy Your Van Tickets
Zuma Tours
(taxi boat)
07:00-11:0066,000 CRC ($95)
Buy Your Van Tickets

If you travel during high season (December-January), it’s best to book your ticket several days in advance to guarantee your seats.

San Jose to Santa Teresa by Private Transfer (Taxi)

Duration: 4.5 hours
Cost: from 181,000 CRC ($262)
Duration: 4.5 hours
Cost: from 181,000 CRC ($262)

Travelling with friends or family? BookAway offers a variety of car choices for groups of 2 up to 14, depending on your budget and car preference.

Rates start from 181,000 CRC ($262) for a car that can fit 4 persons.  Travelling with an even larger group? There are also 14-seater minibuses that cost 285,000 CRC ($413).

Like the bus and most of the minivans, this option is a combined private transfer and ferry journey.

Book a Private Transfer with BookAway

San Jose to Santa Teresa by Direct Bus + Ferry

Duration: 6 hours
Cost: 10,000 CRC ($14)
Duration: 6 hours
Cost: 10,000 CRC ($14)

If you are travelling on a budget and don’t mind taking on the adventure of bus travel in Costa Rica, then taking a public bus is your best option.

Be advised, however, that pickpocket thieves often hang around the bus station in San Jose and even on the bus. Always be careful with your belongings and never leave them out of sight.

If you decide to travel by bus from San Jose to Santa Teresa, you can either take the direct one or the indirect bus.

We give you detailed guides for both options below.

PRO-Tip: Do not ever lose sight of your belongings! Luggage thieves are notorious, especially at the bus station in San Jose. Make sure your bigger bags are inside the luggage compartment before boarding the bus and don’t forget to get your luggage ticket. As for your smaller bags with valuable belongings, it’s better to put them in front of you or between your legs instead of the overhead bin.

Direct Bus from San Jose to Santa Teresa

Duration: 6 hours
Cost: 10,000 CRC ($14)
Duration: 6 hours
Cost: 10,000 CRC ($14)

Transportes Cobano offers one direct trip from San Jose to Santa Teresa daily. This bus departs from Terminal 7-10 in San Jose city centre. From here, the bus will travel by land 105km east to Puntarenas Ferry Port. You are to get off the bus and hop on the car ferry.

The ferry will then cross the strait to Paquera Port. Once back on land, you will board the bus again, as the bus will continue 50km southwest to Santa Teresa. Prepare for a bumpy but beautiful ride for the last leg of the journey!

Total travel time by direct bus from San Jose to Santa Teresa takes more or less 6 hours. Tickets cost 10,000 CRC ($14).

Bus schedule from San Jose to Santa Teresa

Bus OperatorScheduleCosts
Transportes Cobano14:30-20:3010,000 CRC ($14)
Buy Your Bus Tickets

You can buy your ticket at the bus terminal in San Jose or book online in advance. Make sure to arrive at least half an hour before the scheduled departure.

San Jose to Santa Teresa by Indirect Bus

Duration: 7.5 hours
Cost: 11,000 CRC ($16.60)
Duration: 7.5 hours
Cost: 11,000 CRC ($16.60)

In case you miss the only direct bus of the day, you can take an indirect bus. This bus will bring you up to Cobano, located 15km northeast of Santa Teresa. From here, you can take another bus bound for Santa Teresa.

Step 1: San Jose to Cobano by Bus

Duration: 5.5 hours
Cost: 10,000 CRC ($15)
Duration: 5.5 hours
Cost: 10,000 CRC ($15)

Transportes Cobano also offers daily trips from San Jose to Cobano. You can choose between a 06:00 and a 14:30 departure.

Like the direct bus from San Jose to Santa Teresa, you will travel by land until Puntarenas, transfer to a ferry to Paquera, and then go back to your bus as it travels by land again to Cobano.

Estimated travel time is around 5.5 hours, but it can sometimes take longer due to traffic or extra stops. Tickets cost 10,000 CRC ($15).

Bus Schedule from San Jose to Cobano

Bus OperatorScheduleCosts
Transportes Cobano06:00-11:30
14:30-20:00
10,000 CRC ($15)
Buy Your Bus Tickets

Buses are also available at Terminal 7-10. You will be dropped off at Cobano Bus Stop.

Step 2: Cobano to Santa Teresa by Bus

Duration: 2 hours
Cost: 1,000 CRC ($1.60)
Duration: 2 hours
Cost: 1,000 CRC ($1.60)

The bus operator from Cobano to Santa Teresa is Transportes Mal Pais. There are hourly trips from 06:00 to 19:00, giving you lots of choices.

Tickets cost around 1,000 CRC ($1.60) for the 2-hour bus ride.

Bus schedule from Cobano to Santa Teresa

Bus OperatorScheduleCosts
Transportes Mal PaisHourly trips daily from
06:00 to 19:00
1,000 CRC ($1.60)

The buses depart from Cobano Bus Stop, so it should be an easy transfer. Tickets can be bought at the bus station.

San Jose to Santa Teresa by Flight

Duration: 1hr 50m
Cost: 104,000 CRC ($151)
Duration: 1hr 50m
Cost: 104,000 CRC ($151)

When taking a flight from San Jose to Santa Teresa, you can only do so via Tambor Airport. This airport is located in Puntarenas and is the only airport in the Nicoya Peninsula.

Taking a flight is the fastest option for this route. However, we don’t recommend short-haul flights like this due to its relatively high emissions. We suggest taking any of the other options to help the environment.

Step 1: San Jose City Centre to San Jose Airport by Bus

Duration: 40 minutes
Cost: 1,000 CRC ($1.10)
Duration: 40 minutes
Cost: 1,000 CRC ($1.10)

San Jose Airport is located 17km northwest of San Jose city centre. Our most preferred way of getting there is via a 40-minute bus. TUASA and Station Wagon operate buses that depart every 10 minutes from TUASA Terminal in the city centre.

Buses are available every day from 04:00 to 23:00, and you can get a ticket for 1,000 CRC ($1.10).

A convenient but more expensive alternative is to take a taxi from the city to San Jose Airport. This option takes 30 minutes with rates from 17,000 CRC ($25). You can hail one from the street or via the taxi-hailing app Uber.

PRO-Tip: Uber is still not 100% accepted in Costa Rica. Although it is widely used, there have been rare cases of Uber rides being stopped in the middle of the journey and passengers asked to transfer to a taxi. We recommend asking your hotel first whether it is safe to use it before booking your ride.

Step 2: San Jose to Tambor by Flight

Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: 66,000 CRC ($95)
Duration: 30 minutes
Cost: 66,000 CRC ($95)

Sansa Regional and Green Airways offer multiple flights from Tambor to San Jose daily. They also add more trips during the peak season (December to April) to accommodate more tourists.

Flight fares start from 66,000 CRC ($95) for the 30-minute flight.

Check Flights with Skyscanner

Step 3: Tambor Airport to Santa Teresa by Taxi

Duration: 40 minutes
Cost: 38,000 CRC ($55)
Duration: 40 minutes
Cost: 38,000 CRC ($55)

From Tambor Airport, you’ll then have to travel 30km southwest to get to Santa Teresa.

We recommend taking a private transfer for your convenience. You can request this from your hotel beforehand or you can just get a taxi at the airport. Rates start from 41,000 CRC ($60) for the 40-minute journey.

Another option is to book your ride online via Tropical Tours Shuttle. With them, you can get a spacious 15-seater minivan for 38,000 CRC ($55).

Looking for a cheap alternative? You can take the bus, but there are no direct buses from Tambor Airport to Santa Teresa. You’ll have to take a bus from the airport to Cobano and then another bus going to Santa Teresa.

Combined bus ticket prices shouldn’t be more than 3,000 CRC ($5). Just note that bus trips aren’t very frequent, so this option might take more than an hour.

  Hotel

Our favourite places to stay in Santa Teresa


Villa Cacao - Treating yourself

Villa Cacao gets booked up fast, so if you fall in love with this place, make sure to book ASAP. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular - the dreamy outdoor pool, the modern interior and it’s perfect location.

Even though it’s at the centre of Santa Teresa, it feels like your own private oasis. The flourishing gardens and unique chill-out spots also add to this feel. The service matches the quality of the rooms. It’s all top-notch!

  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Stunning and modern rooms
  • Perfect location
  • Friendly and helpful staff

Double rooms start from $80 per night

Read More

 

La Posada - Mid-Range

Santa Teresa is a place for connections, and La Posada is the place to do that. It’s inevitable that you’ll meet some amazing people here. Whether it’s whilst swimming in the pool, having a game of snooker, or just making the most of the chill out spaces.

If you need some privacy, don’t worry, the hostel also has lovely private rooms.

  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Sociable atmosphere
  • Great location
  • Including breakfast

Double rooms between $50-$80 per night

Read More

 

Salty Enthusiasts Share House & Villas - Budget Friendly

It’s not easy to find budget-friendly accommodation in Santa Teresa, especially somewhere that’s actually nice to stay in. Salty Enthusiasts won’t break the bank, yet it’s still a beautiful place to stay.

The hotel feels like a large treehouse, meant for relaxing and providing comfort. You can opt for either a dorm bed or a private room. Both are super clean, comfortable and thoughtfully designed.

It’s a great place to meet other people too. They have lots of communal areas to chill out, and a shared kitchen.

  • Close to the beach
  • Sociable atmosphere
  • Choice of dorm or private room
  • Shared kitchen

Double rooms between $15-$50 per night

Read More

 

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