Santa Teresa is nestled on the verdant Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica’s west coast. Its popularity with visitors seeking a tranquil retreat among nature has skyrocketed over the past few years. The area boasts white sandy beaches, surfing, yoga retreats, and emerald jungle landscapes making it a superb destination for travelers who want to go off-grid. Santa Teresa lies approximately 180 kilometers west of the capital San José and can take almost 6 hours to reach, but it’s worth every hour. Here are our tips on how to get from San José to Santa Teresa to escape to an unspoiled tropical paradise.
Driving from San José to Santa Teresa
By far the fastest and easiest way to reach Santa Teresa is by car. You can reserve a vehicle online in advance and collect it from San José International Airport or arrange to pick it up from your hotel if you’re spending a couple of days in the city. Head onto the Route 27 highway and stay until you join Route 23 towards El Roble. At El Roble join Route 17 to Punta Arenas and take the ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula. Ferries operate 6 times a day from 5 am with the last one departing at 8.30 pm, although times differ on the return journey. The scenic ferry ride takes 70 minutes, passing biological reserves and uninhabited islands. Ensure to check which ferry to board with your car, as they travel to two destinations on the Nicoya Peninsula. Costs for a car and driver are around $25 USD each way and additional passengers are $1.50 USD per person. Upon disembarking in Paquera on the peninsula, it takes around 80 minutes to drive to Santa Teresa.
Flying from San José to Santa Teresa
If time is of the essence or you simply don’t want to drive, you can fly from San José International Airport to Tambor on the Nicoya Peninsula. SANSA Airlines operates direct flights to the region with traveling times of around 35 minutes. Your hotel may be able to arrange a transfer from Tambor Airport to your accommodation, or you can book a taxi or hire a car to collect here. Some airports in Costa Rica apply an arrival and departure fee which equates to a few dollars, therefore it’s wise to have this ready in Costa Rican colónes to avoid delays. Costs for a one-way ticket costs around $90-100 USD per person, depending on the time of year you’re traveling, and if your luggage falls outside airline restrictions, you may be asked to pay a surcharge.
Shuttle from San José to Santa Teresa
Shared shuttles are available to Santa Teresa as well, with a journey time of around 6 hours. The cost equates to approximately $69 per person for a single journey and they depart from San José hotels at 7.30 am and 13.00 hours each day. Alternatively, if you wish to travel with family or groups of friends, you may prefer a private shuttle transfer. These are bookable in advance by yourself online or via your hotel. Costs of private shuttle transfers to Santa Teresa can cost anything upwards of $200 USD, depending on the number of passengers and size of vehicle.
Bus from San José to Santa Teresa
Public transport in Costa Rica is pretty reliable as a general rule, however if you plan to travel via bus to Santa Teresa the journey can be long and involve a ferry crossing. You can travel by bus directly to Punta Arenas from San José, however when you reach Punta Arenas you will need to cross the straits by ferry – a journey which takes around 70 minutes. Bus services from San José are timed with ferry crossings so there’s not much time waiting around before the crossing. The direct bus leaves Terminal 7-10 in San José and takes around 6 hours to St Teresa. The cost is approximately $15 USD one way and includes a ferry ticket.
Taxi from San José to Santa Teresa
Taxi drivers in Costa Rica have been known to try and increase prices for tourists, so unless you have a firm amount agreed for your journey and are using a reputable company, consider an Uber instead. Your journey cost will be logged when you book the transportation and you can be collected at the airport in San José or from your hotel in the city. Check if your driver will take you all the way to Santa Teresa or if they will only take you as far as the Punta Arenas ferry port. If it’s the latter, remember to book another Uber for when you disembark the ferry! Uber costs from San José to Punta Arenas are approximately $90 to $100 USD and from Paquera on the Nicoya Peninsula to Santa Teresa, an additional $40-45 USD.