"Do you know the way to San Jose?" That's all right, we'll assume you're already there and want to get out of the city as fast as possible (believe us, you really do!) and we're sure you'll want to visit the famous Cloud Forests of Monteverde Costa Rica. Click on the following options: Private Transport, shared shuttles and taxi-boat-taxi from Arenal. Or read further about road conditions, driving directions on how to get to Monteverde and more.
There are limited travel options as far as getting up to Monteverde, the one you choose will depend on your budget, time frame, and the type of traveler you are. Of course, one of the most talked about subjects in Monteverde is the road conditions, We are happy to report that every year they improve more and more! The road is now completely paved from the Pan-American Highway nearly all the way to Monteverde.
Monteverde, Costa Rica comprises the villages of Santa Elena, Cerro Plano, and 'Monteverde'.
Here are some transport choices and check out our transportation form
Costa Rica is a small country with a lot of nooks and cranny's. Major cities and hubs for transportation are San Jose, Puntarenas, Cuidad Quesada, Liberia, Limon and San Isidro - That is to say that these cities are the originating points for most of the countries bus routes and
thus the principal road ways. Below are some of the places mentioned in discussing transport to Monteverde Costa Rica.
Sardinal. One of the turning from the Pan American Highway to Monteverde, is through Sardinal. You will see the big gas station. Turn here and within 5 minutes you will get to the tiny village of Sardinal, which then leads to Guacimal.
Guacimal The roads coming from the Pan American Highway via Lagartos and Sardinal become one about half-way up the mountain and Guacimal is a village near the juncture of these two roads. The road is now completely paved from the Pan American Highway all the way to Guacimal!
La Irma is the name of the turn off to Las Juntas. "La Irma" is the name of the service station found at this intersection and is an acknowledged stop for buses. From here you can connect with buses headed about anywhere. Good for reaching places across the Tempesque bridge
(now called La Amistad Bridge) like Samara Beach and Nosara.
Las Juntas or Juntas de Abangares is a small town set about 8 Km off the Pan-American Highway. From this town there is a picuturesque route to Monteverde. Although,if you are diving it is recommened to go the big gas station called Rancho Grande on the Pan-American Highway a bit further south of La Irma and take the Sardinal route to Monteverde (as this is paved to Guacimal).
Lagartos is the exit on the Pan American that the public buses use to take to Monteverde. This turn off is located just before the Lagartos River and bridge if your heading towards the north.
Although as explained above, if you are diving it is recommened to go the big gas station called Rancho Grande on the Panamerican Highway a bit further south of La Irma and Lagartos and take the Sardinal route to Monteverde (as this is paved to Guacimal).
Liberia is a city in the North of Costa Rica with an International airport. It is central in routes heading to the northern part of the Nicoya Peninsula. You can get to beaches in less than 2 hours. Monteverde is about 3 hours from Liberia Airport.
Puntarenas is a port town known more for its myriad of smells than for its beaches. Ferries to Montezuma leave from here and there are frequent buses to San Jose. Puntarenas is a good size city for Costa Rica and is a good hub for bus travel.
Santa Elena is the commercial and "downtown" of Monteverde. See photos of Santa Elena
There are public buses to Monteverde from San Jose, Puntarenas, Las Juntas and Tilaran.
Rates average about $4-5. Routes are well established and very functional for getting around cheaply. Buses pick up people along the way and can sometimes be crowded. On a few routes you can buy your tickets in advance at the station. There is no way to buy tickets unless you're physically at the station.
Buses depart twice daily from from "La Parada (bus station) of San Carlos" area of San Jose.
Times are 6:30 am and 2:30 pm. Buses to Tilaran and La Fortuna., Arenal leave from this same depot. The ride takes at least 5 hours. The bus makes a 15 minute stop at a restaurant along the Pan American Highway a little more than halfway of your journey.
Departs once a day at 2:15 pm. This bus leaves from the bus stop on the beach - not the station of Puntarenas. Wait across the street from the station, there are a couple of roofed shelters with benches and people waiting - just ask around. Takes about 3 1/2 hours.
This one leave Puntarenas at approx 1:30 pm (times change - so check!) across the street from the bus station on the bus stop along the beach side and goes to Monteverde via the old mining town of Las Juntas de Abangares. This route is not as direct as above. This bus is practical for anyone coming from the beaches in the north or Liberia since it can be caught from the turn off at the Pan American Highway which goes to Las Juntas. This turn off is called "La Irma".
If you find yourself in Tilaran you can take a bus at 1:00 pm to Monteverde. Duration of a little over 3 hours. This would be primarily used if you are coming from La Fortuna and didn't take our taxi-boat-taxi shortcut.
(and driving to Monteverde from other places in Costa Rica) If you plan to rent a car you should get a 4x4 vehicle, not only for the traction but for the
clearance as well - you don't want to return the car minus the front end as a result of scraping along the "roads" in Monteverde. First off, you need to understand that Costa Rica's only complete north-south route is the Pan American Highway, also called route number one. This road enters Costa Rica from Nicaragua and runs south on the pacific slope of the country,
passes though San Jose, and continues on to Panama. If your heading from San Jose to any place north of Puntarenas (Guanacaste and beaches on Nicoya for example) you will follow the Pan American.
Those coming from the south will reach Monteverde by turning off at the entrance to Sardinal at the RANCHO GRANDE gas station and driving up the mountain, passing through Sardinal than Guacimal, until reaching Santa Elena. Total of 40km. If you're coming from the north it may be more practical to come up via Las Juntas (although now they have paved the section from the Pan American Highway to Guacimal I would drive further south and take the Rancho Grande - Sardinal route).
There is also entrance from Tilaran if you're driving from the Arenal Volcano.
Many people travel from Arenal Volcano to Monteverde and then from Monteverde to San Jose, Puntarenas or to the Nicoya Peninsula and beaches such as Samara, Jaco and Manuel Antonio.
OR others travel from the south, then go to Monteverde followed by Arenal Volcano and from there head back to San Jose or continue to the beaches of the north and Nicoya Peninsula.
Road from Sardinal - This is an exit on the Pan American highway at the Rancho Grande Gas Station which takes you 3km to Sardinal and offers pavement all the way to Guacimal. This is the route to take if you're coming from San Jose. Driving from San Jose to Monteverde will take about 3.5 hours in total. From San Jose to the Rancho Grande turn off it is about two hours and from there it takes about 1 hour to get up the mountain to Monteverde. Traffic will influence the travel times especially the parts near San Jose. Certain times of the year or days of the week there is an increase in travel and this crates a clog in this artery of Costa Rican transit.
Road from Las Juntas - If you're traveling between locations in northern Costa Rica and Monteverde you may chose to come via Las Juntas de Abangares. Las Juntas is located just off the Pan American highway at a turnoff called "La Irma" after the gas station located at this junction. The road from La Irma to Las Juntas is paved but from Las Juntas to Monteverde the road is unpaved and allow around 1.5 hours.
Road from Tilaran -this is the road that you will take if you're coming from Arenal. It is unpaved and joins the road coming in from Las Juntas as you get nearer to Monteverde.
Road from Lagartos - Lagartos is an exit on the Pan Americana located between Las Juntas and Sardinal. This is the route the public bus takes and is not paved. If your driving there is really no reason to take this road and you might as well travel further south and take the Rancho Grande gas station turn off to Sardinal.
Drivers should plan to travel during daylight hours as there are dark unpaved winding roads that sport sheer cliff edges.
* Check out our collection of maps.
There are several collective shuttle or shuttle transport service operators which offer shuttles to a large number of destinations at rates from $35 - $49. Services are door to door for most major hotels. Trips to Monteverde leave every day at 8.30am and 1.30pm to San Jose and also there are options to many beach areas.
* Check out our transportation booking form
We can arrange private transportation from any where in the country to your destination.
Transport is in a comfortable mini van or 4x4 vehicle with chauffer. This is great for airport pick ups. You just tell us when and to pick you up and our driver will wait at the main exit of the airport with a sign with your name on it. For a price quote:
* Check out our transportation booking form
How do I get out of Monteverde? Monteverde to San Jose and other destinations. Check out our collective of maps.
From Monteverde there are daily public buses to San Jose at 6:30 am and 2:30 pm. There are public bus at 6:00 going to Puntarenas and 4.30am to Las Juntas.. At 7:00 am there is a bus to Tilaran. Collective shuttles depart for the most part in the morning hours. We can arrange a private transfer anytime to anyplace.