Transportation to Santa Teresa/ Malpais
If you are arriving at Juan Santa Maria International airport (SJO) in San Jose, you have many  transportation options to the Mal Pais/Santa Teresa area:

 Private transfer with “Van Switch” at the ferry

This is a private transportation service using two vehicles, one on each side of the ferry:

1. You are picked-up by one driver at the airport or hotel in San Jose, Arenal, or wherever you are.  He will take you to the ferry dock in Puntarenas

2. You take the ferry with your luggage.   The van does not go on the ferry with you.

3. There is another van and driver waiting for you at the end of the ferry ride in Paquera.  This second driver will take you the rest of the way to Santa Teresa, Montezuma, Malpais, etc

This service costs a lot less than taking the van on the Ferry.

During the dry season it also takes less time because the Ferry will take all passengers, but only a limited number of cars.  So, you’ll always go on the first ferry without having to get there early and wait in the line of cars.   Whatsapp +506 87 43 67 68   Phone + 506 22 89 42 92

 Morpho Vans   Phone  +1-877-465-4194   or   +506 2479-7150   

TicoRide - - Email: - Phone +(646) 828-6944 +(506) 4035-7433


Private Transfer Tambor Airport to Santa Teresa / Mal Pais

Once you arrive to Tambor Aiport and you need to go to Santa Teresa or Mal Pais area there are different options that provide this service. It takes around 45 min depends of the location of the hotel, most part of the road is paved but right after Cobano it is dirt road.  +506 87 43 67 68 toll free 1-888-324 9326 from USA & Canada 

 Morpho Vans   Phone  +1-877-465-4194   or   +506 2479-7150   

TicoRide - - Email: - Phone +(646) 828-6944 +(506) 4035-7433 


Shuttle Services:

Regular daily shuttle services have specific departure times from the San Jose area.  If your arrival doesn’t coincide with the schedule you will have to hire Private Transportation Service or spend one night in the San Jose area and take the shuttle the following day.
The route taken is: San Jose area to the Puntarenas ferry dock, a 1.5 hour crossing of the Gulf of Nicoya to Paquera (.5 hr to disembark), travel by land again for 1.5 - 2 hours, passing through Tambor and Cobano, before arriving in  Mal Pais/Santa Teresa.

Zuma Tours Transfers & Shuttles

TicoRide - - Email: - Phone +(646) 828-6944 +(506) 4035-7433


Land and Ocean:
The Taxi Boat is another method of travel if you like a little bit of adventure or you want a quick connection between Jaco (Herradura beach) and Montezuma (a 35 min. drive from Mal Pais/Santa Teresa).   
From San Jose to Herradura beach is only a 1.5 hour drive and the speed boat journey is only 50 minutes, then a 40 min. taxi ride to Mal Pais.

ZumaTours Water-Taxi-Boat-Montezuma-Jaco

TicoRide - - Email: - Phone +(646) 828-6944 +(506) 4035-7433 


Both regional airlines, SANSA and Nature Air have daily flights to Tambor airport, which is a 40 minute drive from Mal Pais/Santa Teresa. 

SANSA flies from SJO International airport.

Nature Air flies from Pavas airport a 30 minute drive from SJO and recently started flying from SJO International as well, .

Both websites have compatibility problems with Safari and Chrome.  Internet Explorer and Firefox seem to work best when making reservations.

TicoRide - - Email: - Phone +(646) 828-6944 +(506) 4035-7433

Public buses are your least expensive option. They run frequently and are punctual but make many stops to pick up and drop off people, making for a very slow trip.  Watch your belongings, don’t put them on the overhead racks but keep them with you if possible.
Route: catch any bus to Puntarenas, then take a taxi to the ferry dock, buy a foot passenger ticket for the Paquera ferry, when you disembark the ferry at the Paquera dock, the public bus will be waiting on the opposite side of the terminal and will take you as far as Cobano where you will have to hire a taxi if you missed the connection for the public bus to Mal Pais/Santa Teresa. If you catch the ferry 4.30 PM or later, you will have to pay a taxi to take you from Paquera to Mal Pais/Santa Teresa.  A journey totaling 8-10 hours.

The Direct Bus service is a great option for $15!  It leaves from the San Carlos (Atlantic) Station in downtown San Jose twice a day (6 AM and 2 PM).  The bus is comfortable, air-conditioned, and fast.  Departure times coincide with the ferry schedule and both are subject to change. (On your return journey, you can ask the bus driver to let you off at the airport instead of having to pay cab fare to get you back there from downtown San Jose) 

                             Online reservations are advised:

                                Phone numbers: San Jose 2221-7479 
                                                           Cobano 2642-0740 / 2642-0219
                                                           Cellular 8393-4349 / 8377-7973 /8389-7177
                                                           Fax  2642-0220

For further information on shuttles, buses and ferry the following sites are very helpful:

Departure Times        
Hora Barco   Hora Barco
05:00 hrs. TAMBOR III   05:30 hrs. TAMBOR II
09:00 hrs. TAMBOR II   09:00 hrs. TAMBOR III
11:00 hrs. TAMBOR III   11:00 hrs. TAMBOR II
14:00 hrs. TAMBOR II   14:00 hrs. TAMBOR III
17:00 hrs. TAMBOR III   17:00 hrs. TAMBOR II
20:30 hrs. TAMBOR II   20:00 hrs. TAMBOR III

Car Rental:
A 4x4 is a must for the roads around Mal Pais/Santa Teresa, not particularly for the traction, but for the clearance.  A regular car frame is too low to get over some of the bumps, potholes and occasional fording of a river or stream.  If you damage the undercarriage, or get swept down a river, the consequences come at a very high price.  It is advisory to spend the extra money on a 4x4 rather than experience buying a car you have severely damaged (read the fine print of the rental contract, some damage is not covered by insurance and is considered negligence and the person renting the vehicle is at fault).
There are many car rental companies to choose from in the San Jose area and rates are very competitive.  It is best to do some research, make sure you have the right insurance coverage for you (although it is advisable to get the zero deductible insurance  so you don’t have extra charges at the end of your trip) some credit cards cover a portion of insurance packages but you must pay the mandatory insurance.
When you have a rental company in mind, check the forum for experience other  TripAdvisor members may have had with your choice to be sure you are making a wise decision.  The option to rent a GPS can also be a helpful tool.

Two major rental companies with offices in the Mal Pais/Santa Teresa area are Budget  and Alamo.

Here are two sites with lists of licensed rental companies in the country:

Costa Rican Tourism Board -ICT
Costa Rican Chamber of Tourism -CANATUR

If you are renting a vehicle, the following sites are very useful for determining routes, driving times and distances:

Make sure you  arrange your shuttle, air transportation, car rental in advance, this will help you save time and money and enjoy the most out of your vacation.
If you are planning on taking a regional flight, or shuttle or bus, you have the choice to rent a car, quad or bicycle when you get to Mal Pais/Santa Teresa because you will find that restaurants, activities, accommodations, and beaches are spread out over a long stretch of road running over 8 K.
For more information on transportation, check out the TA Inside Pages on the main TripAdvisor CostaRica forum.

Be aware that, especially during rainy season, road conditions in this area can be unpredictable. During a trip in August 2010, for example, one bridge near Tambor was washed out and fallen power lines blocked the road in another place, resulting in considerable delays.  Give yourself plenty of time for unforseen travel may not want to miss your flight home!....or maybe you do?!