Travel to & from
There are various options for arriving to Casa Zen, and we ask that you always be mindful of travel time. Although Costa Rica is a small country, it can easily take 6 hours to travel from one place to another. Here are some helpful hints to help you get to Casa Zen. And of course, if you need help making reservations, please do not hesitate to contact us.
*** THESE ARE ALL APPROXIMATE TRAVEL PRICES in US dollars and travel directions are from the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose***
Although there are two international airports in Costa Rica – San José and Liberia – there are more direct transport options from San José (airport code SJO), so that is your best option for arriving to Costa Rica. Once here, you can board a connecting flight through Sansa airlines or through Nature Air out to the Tambor airport terminal here on the Nicoya Peninsula. Sansa has a hub at the same Juan Santa Maria International Airport in which you will arrive, while Nature Air flies out of a separate airport in Pavas, a suburb of San Jose. The flight itself is about 30 minutes long, and both airlines run about $95 USD one way, with a limit on the weight of your luggage (25 lbs/12 kilos). Anything over this you will be charged an extra amount. Additionally, there are restrictions on bringing surf boards on these planes, so it is good to check before booking your tickets. Once you arrive in Tambor, a taxi will cost you around $50 USD to come to Santa Teresa (approx. one hour travel time).
Your options for traveling roadside range from public buses, to private taxis, to shared mini-buses, to rental cars. Whichever you choose, the travel time is all the same: around 2.5 hours from the airport in San Jose to Puntarenas, 1 hour on the ferry, and then 1.5 hours from Paquera to Santa Teresa. Relax, drive or ride safely, and enjoy the journey…you are now on “tico time,” so you may as well just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The cheapest option is the Direct Bus that leaves from the San Carlos bus station in San José. The price is approximately $15 USD, but the departure times are limited, currently leaving at 6am and 2pm. Depending on the arrival time of your flight, if you want to take the bus, you may have to spend the night in San José. PLEASE NOTE: the Juan Santa Maria International Airport is actually located in Alajuela, not San José. To get to the San Carlos bus station from the airport, it is a 30 minute and $20 taxi ride. Alternately, there are a number of buses that travel between the airport and downtown San José. Look for the red buses, which pass approximately every 15 minutes at the airport. Board any one of these to the center of San José for about $1 per person, then you can take a taxi over to the San Carlos bus station. But watch your time! The buses may take up to 45 minutes between the airport and the center, and the direct bus always leaves on time.
Taxis and Shuttles
If you jump into any taxi outside the airport and say “Take me to Casa Zen!” they may charge you anywhere between $200 and $250. A taxi only to Puntarenas, where you will need to board the Ferry to Paquera, will be a bit cheaper, but beware that they may try to charge you quite a bit. Then on the other side, from Paquera down to Santa Teresa, another taxi will run around $70 USD. Alternately, you can book ahead of time with a transport company called Montezuma Expeditions, for about $45/person, which will bring you directly to the door of Casa Zen. These shuttles require a minimum of 3 people, otherwise they may charge you for 3 even if you are only one. However there are generally other people using the shuttle, so just check with the company before arriving in Costa Rica. Additionally, watch the departure times. Depending on the season, they may only leave at 8am, so if your flight arrives later in the day, you may again be looking at a night in Alajuela or San José before arriving out here on the beach the next day.
This can be an affordable option if you are traveling with friends or family. Rental cars can be rented directly at the airport, and dropped off on this end here in Santa Teresa. However, beware that the drop off fee can be $100 or more, so make sure to check with the rental company first. Currently, both Budget and Alamo Rental car services have offices in Santa Teresa. Prices vary, and you may be able to find discount offers online before arriving.
Whether you arrive by bus, taxi, shuttle, or rental car, all must cross the Gulf of Nicoya on the Ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera. (NOTE: DO NOT take the ferry to Naranjo – this is a different destination, and will prolong your journey by 1-2 hours depending on the condition of the roads.) The ferry costs around $25 for a car to board, and a little less than $2 for passengers. It is a quite beautiful journey through the gulf, and lasts about one hour. The schedule is subject to change with short notice, so it is always a good idea to double check the times here, especially if you are driving a rental car. Arriving 5 minutes late to the ferry could cause you to wait 3 hours for the next one!
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