Sitting in the Northern areas of the Puntaranas province is the small mountain town of Santa Elena. The town is located only a few kilometers from the Monteverde Cloud Forest and is the closet town to the reserve. Because of its proximity to the cloud forest, Santa Elena is the best location to stay in while planning activities around Monteverde.
Santa Elena is located about 4 to 5 hours from downtown San Jose.
How to Get to Santa Elena
Many people going to Santa Elena make there way here either by included transportation in a tour, such as rafting or canopies. Many visitors also take advantage of the “Jeep-boat-jeep” tours out of La Fortuna. One thing worth mentioning, the jeep-boat-jeep tours are actually bus-boat-bus tours.
Santa Elena is located high in the mountains and because of this, weather is much colder and much more windy. You will definitely want a pair of pants and a light jacket if you plan on walking around at night. During the day the temperature is pretty nice, but the wind is still very strong.
What To Do
Since Santa Elena is located so close to the Moneteverde Could Forest, there are plenty of outdoor activities to take advantage of.
Zip lines, jungle tours, and canopy tours are the most popular thing to do in the area. Any hotel or tourist information center in the town can help arrange these for you. Most all of the tours include round trip transportation to and from your hotel in Santa Elena.
There is also a neat day hike to the “strangler fig” tree located in Santa Elena. You may have to ask around for directions on how to get to it, but it will be well worth the trouble. This might be the coolest thing to see in Costa Rica. Best of all, its free!
Another popular way to get the the Monteverde Cloud Forest is to take a horse back tour. These tours can be round trip or be a means of transportation to a zip line or canopy tour.
There is a butterfly garden and frog exhibit in town that costs about $5. If you are completely bored and have nothing else to do, its a good way to waste time and money. Otherwise, I would suggest passing.
Where to Stay
Backpackers – Pension de Santa Elena is a cool, artsy hostel in town. Its very rustic, but very cheap. The staff here are awesome and can also give you directions to the strangler fig tree.