I have written a few different ways for people to get from San Jose to Montezuma. When I first started living in Montezuma, I found very little information on how to get to the area, so this is an attempt to provide some clarity.
Option #1: Rent a Car
This is a seemingly easy option but can be much harder than one understands. Almost all major rental car companies have multiple offices in the San Jose area, which is a big plus, and most of these companies have offices in the San Jose International airport.
During high season cars should be booked at least a month in advance.
The biggest problem with a car rental is cost and navigating Costa Rica. I find Costa Rica confusing to drive in because there are few road signs. If visiting Montezuma, it is best to get a car with four wheel drive because the roads are not paved and it is very hilly. Cost for a four wheel drive car is usually around $50 per day.
From the airport in San Jose, take Route 1 to Route 3 (going towards Atenas, Puntarenas, etc.). Continue onto Route 131 and reconnect onto Route 1. Take a slight left toward Esparza/Puntarenas on Route 17. Once in Paquera, follow all signs to Montezuma. Follow signs to the ferry to Paquera. You will seem like you are driving through Puntarenas for a long time and this is normal. It will probably take 15 minutes of driving through Puntarenas before you get to the ferry. From Paquera (after the
ferry), follow all signs to Montezuma. You will go through Cobano, turn left at the bank/stop sign towards Montezuma (there’s a sign), and continue on this road for about 7 kilometers. You will be on gravel for most of the time, but finally there will be pavement. Once there is pavement you will go down a big hill. Finally, you are in Montezuma!
Option #2: Take the Direct Bus
There is a direct bus that leaves the Coca Cola bus terminal (Tell the taxi driver – Avenida 1 and Calles 16 & 18). in San Jose at 6:00 AM and 2:00 PM. These are the same times of when it leaves Montezuma. This is my preferred method, but it can be a bit confusing if you haven’t traveled a lot before. The bus costs about $8 and includes the ferry ticket. The bus is liable for the security of all your bags which is really nice. The bus usually takes about 4 or 5 hours.
Option #3: Take the Bus to Puntarenas
Another option that I tested this holiday season is to take the bus from San Jose (go to Puntarenas terminal near the Coca Cola bus station at Avenida 12 and Calle 16) to Puntarenas. This bus leaves early hour which is a huge plus for this option and it costs about $3. The bus will drop you off at the Puntarenas bus terminal, and from there you will need to take a taxi for $2 to the ferry. Once at the ferry, buy your ticket at the bakery for $1.50 and take the ferry to Paquera. Once in Paquera, take the bus to Montezuma ($2) or get a taxi ($50).
This option is a bit more confusing, but faster than waiting around for the direct buses that only go twice a day.
Option #4: Take a Shuttle
There are several companies that offer shuttle services from San Jose to Montezuma. I really like Montezuma Expeditions. Here is their information: http://montezumaexpeditions.com/ They will pick you up at your hotel or the airport and take you to the ferry. Once at the ferry you need to carry your luggage off the shuttle and onto the boat. This is a huge pain in the ass if you have lots of stuff. Once in Paquera, you board another shuttle from the same company and that shuttle will take you to your hotel or final destination. The shuttle usually costs about $45-50 per person.
Shuttle pass to get back on the shuttle in Paquera.
Let me know if I can answer questions for anyone on how this process works.