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 show you 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
Minivan5-6 hours49,000 CRC ($77) Book Minivan Tickets
Private Transfer4.5 hours170,000 CRC ($268) Book a Private Transfer
Direct Bus6 hours8,630 CRC ($14)Read article for more info
Indirect Bus6 hours8,975 CRC ($14.60)Read article for more info
Flight2 hours 05 minutes101,505 CRC ($165)Book Flights

You can choose from 5 options when travelling the 185km distance from San Jose to Santa Teresa: a 6-hour minivan, a 6-hour bus (direct or indirect), a 4.5-hour private transfer, or a 2-hour flight (including transfers). Prices range between 8,630 CRC ($14) and 170,000 ($268).

The minivan is the most convenient option as it is a direct connection. The tickets include hotel pick-up and drop-off, so you won’t need to worry about finding your way to and from bus terminals. Tickets for the minivan start from 49,000 CRC ($77).

Prefer a private ride? Private transfers from San Jose to Santa Teresa vary in size and level of luxury. Rates start from 170,000 ($268) 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 8,630 CRC ($14), the bus is a cheaper alternative to the Minivan. However, direct trips are temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.

If you are looking for a cheaper option, then there is still the indirect bus via Cobano. Keep in mind that you will need to arrange your own transport from/to the bus terminals and also need to account for extra waiting time at the terminal.

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 from there to Santa Teresa. Total travel time will take around 2 hours and combined rates start from 101,505 CRC ($165).

Itinerary from San Jose to Santa Teresa

minivan icon

San Jose to Santa Teresa by Minivan

Duration: 5-6 hours
Cost: 49,000 CRC ($77)

With a minivan from San Jose to Santa Teresa, you can choose from several departure times a day. Offering you much more flexibility than the public bus that only leaves once a day.

Combined travel time by minivan and ferry takes around 6 hours. You can see the schedules and corresponding booking options below.

Minivan schedule

Minivan OperatorScheduleDurationCosts
Book with BookAway
07:00-13:00 5-6 hours49,000 CRC ($77)
Montezuma Expeditions
(temporary not available)
6 hours30,810 CRC ($50)
Zuma Tours 14:00-20:00 6 hours 58,960 CRC ($96)

Interbus – overland journey

Due to the covid pandemic, not all options are available anymore. The best option is to book with Interbus. If you travel during high season (December-January), make sure to book your ticket several days in advance to guarantee your seats.

The Interbus going from San Jose to Santa Teresa 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.

Montezuma and Zuma Tours – bus + ferry

Montezuma and Zuma tours take an alternative route: Their minivans go first to Puntarenas, from where you bound a ferry. Once crossed, you continue the journey overland to Santa Teresa.

However, Montezuma is currently not available and Zuma Tours is on the expensive side. This makes the Interbus which goes overland the best option.

Book Minivan Tickets with BookAway


San Jose to Santa Teresa by Private Transfer (Taxi)

Duration: 4.5 hours
Cost: from 163,053.98 CRC ($261)

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

Rates start from 163,053.98 CRC ($261) for a car that can fit 4 persons.  Travelling with an even larger group? Then you can also rent a 14-seater minibus from 258,012.62 CRC ($413).

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

Book a Private Transfer with BookAway

Bus icon

San Jose to Santa Teresa by Direct Bus + Ferry

Duration: 6 hours
Cost: 8,630 CRC ($14)

If you are travelling on a budget and don’t mind taking on the adventure of bus travel in Costa Rica, then you can save some budget with this option. Always be careful on your belongings and never leave them out of sight. Pickpocket thieves often hang around the bus station in San Jose and sometimes also on the bus.

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

Of course, we’d prefer to take the direct bus as it’s more convenient. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bus operator Transportes Cobano had to temporarily suspend direct trips from San Jose to Santa Teresa. So in the meantime, your only option is to take 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: 8,630 CRC ($14)

Transportes Cobano offers one daily trip from San Jose to Santa Teresa. 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, go back to your bus. The bus will then continue 50km southwest to Santa Teresa. Prepare for a bumpy but beautiful ride for the last leg of the journey!

Total travel time by bus from San Jose to Santa Teresa takes more or less 6 hours.

Bus schedule

Bus OperatorScheduleDurationCosts
Transportes Cobano06:30-12:30
6 hours8,630 CRC ($14)

Note that you can only purchase your ticket at the bus terminal in San Jose. It should cost around 8,630 CRC ($14).

Bus icon

San Jose to Santa Teresa by Indirect Bus

Duration: 6-7 hours
Cost: 8,975 CRC ($14.60)

In case the direct buses are still suspended on the date of your trip, you can take the indirect bus. This can bring you only 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 hours
Cost: 7,975 CRC ($13)

There is one daily bus trip from San Jose to Cobano. This bus departs at 06:30 in the morning from Monday to Saturday and at 13:00 on Sundays.

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.

Indicated travel time is around 5 hours, but can sometimes take longer due to traffic or extra stops. You can buy your ticket at the bus station in Terminal 7-10 for 7,975 CRC ($13).

Bus OperatorScheduleDurationCosts
Transportes Cobano06:30-11:30 (Mon-Sat)
15:00-20:00 (Sun)
5 hours7,975 CRC ($13)

Buses park at Cobano Bus Stop.

An important note: if you take the Sunday bus, there may not be a connecting bus available to Santa Teresa. In that case, you’ll have to take a 40-minute taxi that costs around 13,000 CRC ($20).

Step 2: Cobano to Santa Teresa by Bus

Duration: 6 hours
Cost: 1,000 CRC ($1.60)

The bus operator from Cobano to Santa Teresa is Transportes Mal Pais. It offers 4 bus trips daily, with ticket prices from 1,000 CRC ($1.60). You can buy your ticket at the bus station.

Below are the bus schedules.

Bus OperatorScheduleDurationCosts
Transportes Mal Pais
1 hour1,000 CRC ($1.60)
Transportes Mal Pais
1 hour1,000 CRC ($1.60)

The buses depart from Cobano Bus Stop, so it should be an easy transfer. Although if you arrive just after the last bus left, you might need to wait a few hours for the next bus.


San Jose to Santa Teresa by Flight

Duration: 2 hours 05 minutes
Cost: 101,505 CRC ($165)

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

Although taking a flight is the fastest option, we don’t recommend short-haul flights like this due to its relatively high emissions. If you still want to fly, please consider including a carbon compensation fee to help reduce your impact on the environment.

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

Duration: 40 minutes
Cost: 675 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 675 CRC ($1.10).

A convenient but more expensive alternative is to take a taxi from the city to San Jose Airport. This takes 30 minutes and rates start from 15,280 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: 64,000 CRC ($104)

Sansa Regional offers at least 4 daily flights from Tambor to San Jose, with more trips added during the peak season (December to April) to accommodate tourists.

Ticket prices start from 64,000 CRC ($104). Flight time is around 30 minutes.

Check Flights with Skyscanner

Step 3: Tambor Airport to Santa Teresa by Taxi

Duration: 40 minutes
Cost: 36,830 ($60)

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 36,830 ($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 33,850 CRC ($55).

Looking for a cheap alternative? You can take the bus, but there are no direct buses from Tambor Airport to Santa Teresa. That means you’ll have to take 1 bus from the airport to Cobano and then another bus going to Santa Teresa.

Combined bus ticket prices shouldn’t be more than 3,070 CRC ($5). Just note that bus trips aren’t very frequent, so this option might take more than an hour.


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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