Getting to Montezuma from San Jose

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!

Ferry from Puntarenas

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: 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.


About candaceburckhardt

I am currently an advocate of project based and experiential learning, increasing creativity for young people and adults, and pursuing life-long learning. I am fortunate to be able to put all of these things together everyday as a teacher. I have worked as a teacher of special education and English Language Learners at both the elementary and secondary level. I also served as the Vice-Principal of an international school, the director of four summer camps, and the academic director of a wilderness therapy organization. I am also a 2009 corps member of Teach for America and a completed my Masters of Arts in Teaching at Marian University in 2011. When I am not teaching, my favorite hobbies include hiking, yoga, writing, brewing my own beer, reading, and being with my family. Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked in advocacy and public policy at both the federal and state level.
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13 Responses to Getting to Montezuma from San Jose

  1. sophie says:

    Hi! For option 2, does the bus leaving from San Jose stop in Alajuela? If so, at what time? I am arriving at airport at 1:05pm and wondering if feasible to catch a bus to Montezuma (from Alajuela bus station – where is that?) or if I need to plan to stay overnight in Puntarenas. Thank you!

    • enlteacher says:

      Hi Sophie,

      Unfortunately, the bus schedules change often and I haven’t lived in Costa Rica for two years, so I am not sure what they would be at this point. Best of luck with your trip!


  2. margarcia11 says:

    How long would the 4th option take?

  3. Shivinity says:

    We are planning a trip to Malpais in April, and are wondering about the shuttle service you recommended. Is that $50pp a round trip price, or is that each way? Also, are there transportation options easily available in Montezuma or Malpais? (Trying to figure out whether it makes more sense to rent a car in San Jose, or just wing it on the shuttle!)

    Thank you!

  4. Adriana says:

    for option 2 once you get off the ferry, do you still need to purchase another ticket to make it to montezuma? If so how often does the bus go from the ferry drop off point to montezuma?

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