Santa Teresa: Getting There
There is a reason that despite its ever-growing popularity, Santa Teresa still possesses the insouciant charm it had when surfers began flocking there back in the 50’s. While it is now more commercialized as tourists continue to whisper Costa Rica’s best-kept secret, the route to get there has allowed it to keep an off-the-beaten-path vibe. The locals are more than happy to leave the limelight to the likes of Jaco and Manuel Antonio.
Below I outline the options for getting to Santa Teresa, and delve deeper into the most common way – taxi ferry taxi.
Option 1) Fly from San Jose to Tambor
If you are coming from San Jose, hop on a 30-minute flight to Tambor. Sansa Airlines and Nature Air both fly this route. Your best option is to taxi from Tambor to Santa Teresa, which takes around 45 minutes and costs $40 one way. Reserve it ahead of time, especially on the return if you need to get back to the airport at a certain time.
Cost: $59-$99 for flight, $40 for taxi.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can take the public bus to Santa Teresa instead of a taxi.
Sparing no expense? You can hire your own personal helicopter Tom Brady style. Can’t believe I didn’t think to do that. Thanks for the heads up, Tom. We could have carpooled (or I guess, heli-pooled).
If you’re like me and hitting Santa Teresa last from another area (or you are also a member of the small-local-plane-no-thank-you tribe), there are a few other options.
Option 2) Jaco to Santa Teresa – Speed Boat
Take a taxi or shuttle to Jaco if you are nearby and board a speed boat to Mal Pais/Santa Teresa
One hour boat, $55 per adult
You can also take a speedboat to Montezuma if you want to cross that off the list, and then take a shuttle the following day to Santa Teresa (about 45 minutes). In my opinion, it’s more fun to explore Montezuma via ATV from Santa Teresa.
Option 3) Taxi/Car-Ferry-Boat-Taxi/Car from Monteverde
For the sake of this post, I’m going to dive deeper into the most common way to get to Santa Teresa, Taxi Ferry Boat Taxi or Car Ferry Boat Car if you rent a vehicle. I would highly recommend a 4×4 for this.
A few tips based on our Journey via Taxi Ferry Taxi
Beginning our journey from Monteverde to Santa Teresa, we boarded the shuttle and spent the next hour driving around the town picking up people.
TIP: If you are traveling with 3-4 people, find out the cost difference between paying individually for a public shuttle or booking a private. It may only be a few dollars more for private, and not only will it be more comfortable, you will save a ton of time. I wish we had done this.
We arrived at Puntarenas ferry terminal 2 hours later. If you are driving yourself, you could probably get there quicker. The road was beautiful so try to snag a window seat in the shuttle. Another perk to not driving? Actually seeing the countryside you’re driving through.
The ferry, albeit painfully slow, was a welcome change from the winding bumpy roads and shuttle air conditioning circulating the smell of backpackers needing a reintroduction to soap.
Breathe in the fresh salted air, smile as the breeze hits your face, and grab an Imperial from the ferry bar. Chill out on the deck for the 1 hour and 20 minutes it takes to the other side.
If driving yourself, here are ferry times + rates.
If you booked a shuttle (recommended), someone will be waiting for you to take you to your final destination, Santa Teresa. They will have your name so don’t fall for the dudes right off the ferry asking you if you “Booked taxi, yes?”. Look for the company shirt and give them your name.
Another Costa Rican massage awaits as you twist and turn down to the coast. 35 miles from the ferry and you are in a land Coldplay wrote a song about. Paradise.
Option 4) Arenal to Santa Teresa
6-hour shuttle. $60 per person or $280 for a private shuttle
Based on a lot of reviews, it seems to take closer to 8 hours. If you are driving yourself, it is recommended to take the route that includes the ferry versus driving around the bridge on land the whole time as it can be quite stressful. The Puntarenas ferry breaks up the drive quite nicely.
NOTE: Look up all the details of your hotel first. Some Santa Teresa hotels sit way up on the top of steep dusty hills that most shuttles or cars can’t access. Many people in our shuttle had to get dropped off and take a taxi the rest of the way to their hotel. Call the hotel to get their recommendation for transportation.
Try to book the sunset ferry home (5pm in dry season). You’ll be in for a sweet dance party complete with a DJ, neon lights, Imperials and a gorgeous send-off from the sun.
For rates + shuttle bookings, check out Interbus
That’s it! Enjoy the journey!
Feel free to reach out if you have any particular questions regarding transportation to Santa Teresa!