Looking for the best way to get from San Jose to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica?
I will cover the many options available to you and give you all the detail you need to book your transportation from San Jose to Santa Teresa (or Santa Teresa to San Jose) right away and save you valuable time.
Gaining popularity in recent years, Santa Teresa Costa Rica is a beach paradise, with world-class conditions for surfing in Santa Teresa, trendy shops, a number of idyllic white sand beaches and countless day trip opportunities like Montezuma Beach and Tortuga Island. The delicious restaurants in Santa Teresa are reason alone to make a stop here.
While Santa Teresa is a more remote beach destination in Costa Rica, after a few days spent enjoying its shores, you’ll never want to leave. I highly recommend a visit to Santa Teresa along your Costa Rica itinerary.
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This detailed guide on how to get to Santa Teresa Costa Rica from San Jose covers all the information you need about the Santa Teresa San Jose route, including the most common transportation options like San Jose to Tambor flights, rental car, ferry, shuttle, and public bus from San Jose to Santa Teresa, plus a little bit about things to do in Santa Teresa, top Santa Teresa hotels and more!
San Jose to Santa Teresa Quick Guide
San Jose to Santa Teresa Map
This map of Costa Rica shows the journey that you will take whether you are going by rental car, private/shared shuttle or public bus.
The San Jose Santa Teresa land route admittedly has a few steps. You can make the journey from San Jose Costa Rica to Santa Teresa via airplane, land route, or land and ferry route. A domestic flight will be the quickest way to get from San Jose to Santa Teresa, and vice versa, while a shared group Costa Rica shuttle by land and ferry will take the longest.
Click on the map of San Jose to Santa Teresa Costa Rica below to find your ideal route.
San Jose to Santa Teresa Distance
Whether you decide to take the land-only route at 313km (195 miles) or the land-and-ferry route at 181km (113 miles), they take roughly the same amount of time to complete depending on your choice of a rental car, private transfer or shared shuttle.
A flight from San Jose Costa Rica to Santa Teresa will take a shorter duration.
San Jose to Santa Teresa by Airplane | 30-minute flight, 1-hour drive
San Jose to Santa Teresa by Land Only | ~ 313km (195 miles) or 5.5-hour drive
San Jose to Santa Teresa by Land + Ferry | ~181km (113 miles) or 4.5 – 6-hour drive
About Santa Teresa
Where is Santa Teresa?
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica is located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Ocean. The town spans a 10km piece of coastline that connects small beach communities like Santa Teresa Beach, Playa Carmen, Playa Mal Pais and Playa Hermosa.
Things to Do in Santa Teresa
With some of the best surfing in Costa Rica, Santa Teresa is a mecca for surfers from around the world. The waves are constant and there is a wave for every level of surfer, making this one of the best places to learn how to surf in Costa Rica.
In addition to incredible surfing in Santa Teresa, visitors come for its stunning white sand beaches that dot the coastline, lush jungle landscapes and nearby things to do in Santa Teresa like a day trip to the bohemian beach town of Montezuma Costa Rica, the paradisical Isla Tortuga for snorkelling or to Cabo Blanco National Park for wildlife.
There are also plenty of trendy shops and restaurants in Santa Teresa to explore and indulge in. Or, simply grab a beach towel and catch some rays on Playa Carmen or Santa Teresa Beach.
About San Jose
Where is San Jose?
San Jose, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, is located in the central San Jose Province, in the mid-west of Central Valley and acts as a main hub of transportation for the rest of the country.
Things to Do in San Jose
Like most cities in Central America, you can find a plethora of museums to peruse, markets to explore and street food to eat. Catch a show at the National Theatre of Costa Rica, shop for souvenirs at Mercado Centrale, partake in a delicious walking food tour, experience San Jose by night, or take a half-day ziplining and rappelling trip.
By Airplane From San Jose to Santa Teresa
The quickest way to get from San Jose Costa Rica to Santa Teresa is by flying. The flight duration is only 30 minutes, and there are a few flights per day from San Jose Airport (SJO) to Tambor Airport (TMU). You can book your flights directly through Sansa Airlines or Costa Rica Green Airways.
Once you land in Tambor, you will need to take a taxi or private transfer the rest of the way to Santa Teresa which takes about an hour.
By Car Rental from San Jose to Santa Teresa
Renting a car is the best way to see Costa Rica, as towns are quite spread out around the country. I always use and recommend Discover Cars. What is great about Discover Cars is they compare local and international companies to get you the best price.
Plus, they offer $7USD a day of full-coverage insurance (make sure to decline any additional insurance offered at pickup!).
You can reserve your car for pick up at the San Jose International Airport (SJO) or downtown San Jose.
By Land Only
If you’re renting a car in San Jose, the San Jose Costa Rica to Santa Teresa drive will take you about five and a half hours. The drive is relatively easy as you will be taking the Pan-American Highway most of the way north until La Palma.
Here you can follow the highway west (around the top of the Colorado Gulf) onto the Nicoya Peninsula and south towards Paquera and around the bottom of the peninsula.
As gas stations are spread out along this journey, make sure to fill up when you can.
NOTE | Do be aware, the roads along the peninsula are winding and some can be prone to car sickness.
By Land & Ferry
First, you will leave the San Jose Airport (SJO) or downtown San Jose and follow Route 27 heading west out of town. Continue onto Route 23, then left onto the ramp for Route 17 to arrive at the ferry port in Puntarenas.
Ferries from Puntarenas to Paquera run from 5:30AM – 8:30PM with six sailings. The cost of a single car and driver is $24 USD (with additional passengers at $1.50 USD each) reserved through the Nicoya Peninsula ferry website or paid in Costa Rican Colones (CRC) at the ferry terminal.
Once you cross the Nicoya Peninsula on a 90-minute ferry ride arriving in Paquera, you can make the rest of the 1-hour drive to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.
Follow the same route in reserve to go from Santa Teresa to San Jose.
TIP | Make sure to get on the right ferry at the Puntarenas port because there are two sailings from here. One to Montezuma, Santa Teresa and Mal Pais (this is the one you want!). And one to Naranjo and Nosara.
By Shuttle from San Jose to Santa Teresa
Taking a San Jose to Santa Teresa shuttle is one of the most comfortable ways to travel. The Costa Rica shuttle ride takes about 4.5 – 6 hours depending on whether you choose to go with a private shuttle or a shared shuttle. You can also choose to take the land-only route or the land-and-ferry route.
Shuttles in Costa Rica are air-conditioned with relatively comfortable seating. You can expect pit stops along the way for bathroom breaks and snacks. If you are travelling from San Jose city to Santa Teresa, you can expect a pick up directly from your San Jose hotel.
You can book your shuttle through Book Away in advance, where you can compare the prices of local companies for the best deal. You can find daily departures from San Jose to Santa Teresa, so pick the one that suits your Costa Rica itinerary best.
By Shared Shuttle | 6 hour journey
By Private Shuttle | 4.5 hour journey
By Public Bus from San Jose to Santa Teresa
The cheapest way to get from San Jose to Santa Teresa is by public bus. Departing twice daily at 6AM and 2:30PM from the Terminal 7-10 in San Jose city centre, the Transportes Cobano company offers a direct San Jose to Santa Teresa bus.
The bus ride takes 6 hours in total and the price of the ferry ticket from Puntarenas Port to Paquera is included. A ticket for the bus San Jose to Santa Teresa is $12 USD per person, one way. Tickets can be purchased at the bus terminal.
NOTE | The bus will not stop directly at your Santa Teresa hotels so make sure to arrange a private transfer or grab a local taxi the rest of the way.
TIP | Look out for pickpockets at the bus terminal in San Jose.
Costa Rica Travel Insurance
Santa Teresa Costa Rica is known for water and jungle adventures, and with that, comes the risk of fall, injury or accident. Don’t be left with huge hospital bills and protect yourself with the right travel insurance.
Travel insurance is one of those things I hope you never have to use. But in case you do, you’ll want reliable insurance on your side. Plus, it’s such a small cost for peace of mind. Please, don’t leave home without it!
I used HeyMondo insurance on my trip to Costa Rica and can recommend it.
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