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Getting from San Jose to Tamarindo (and return)

2418737743_519b747b1fCosta Rica is a beautiful country with many attractions. Travel can be fun but it can be difficult and dangerous depending on the time of year you are traveling. and where you are traveling to. In the rainy season many of the roads are washed out or very muddy and 4 wheel drive is required to travel these roads. Tamarindo, being as popular as it is, has various ways of being reached. The views out of the windows of any of these travel methods can’t be beat.

Quick summary

Flying is the fastest way to travel from San Jose to Tamarindo and the fares aren’t very high either. However, the cheapest way to travel between the two cities is by bus.

Getting from San Jose to Tamarindo by plane

Pavas International Airport is located near the capital of San Jose and is served by domestic and international charter flights. Some scheduled flights are also available from this airport.

Tamarindo is also served by airport (TNO) and it receives direct flights from San Jose operated by SANSA and Nature Air. During the wet season, the airport is often closed due to bed weather.

Nature Air has a fleet of small planes which hold about 15 or so passengers. It is a little small on space but a very enjoyable ride. Nature Air and the other domestic airline SANSA are very affordable at between $55 and $105 per person. Choose the “gringo” rate, there really isn’t much difference in seating. These smaller airlines do have baggage restrictions, so be sure to check before you go. It is possible to book flights online.

>>read more about Cheap Flights to San Jose

Getting from San Jose to Tamarindo By Bus

In downtown San Jose, you will find the central bus station where you can purchase tickets to travel by bus to many parts of the country. There are a couple of choices for buses, some are private and air conditioned whereas the main Ticobus is not usually air conditioned and makes many stops. There are some direct lines that will take you to Tamarindo with few stops.
This area can be dangerous, especially at night so if you must go there at night, it is recommended you take a taxi to the terminal. Not may buses run at night anyway.

There are also services in San Jose that will purchase your bus tickets for you ahead of time and pick you up at the airport, drop you off at the bus station a few minutes prior to the bus leaving so you do not have to wait in the terminal. The fees are quite reasonable for this service. They also run a shuttle service that will drive you most anywhere is Costa Rica. There are several shuttle services that will do this, but it is not really cost effective unless you have a larger party or can “buddy up” with another small group.

>>read more about Bus Travel in Costa Rica

Getting from San Jose to Tamarindo By Car

There are many car rental agencies in San Jose. Quite a few of them have offices at the airport or have shuttles to their offices nearby. A rental car is a fairly easy way to get around. It is suggestible to rent a four wheel drive vehicle for the trip to Tamarindo. You will need your passport, drivers license, proof of insurance in some cases and a hefty credit card deposit of around $700.

Once you have rented your car you have two choices to get to Tamarindo. You can take the scenic drive around Lake Arenal and down the main highway of the Guanacaste peninsula to Tamarindo, you can go to Puntarenas and take the ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya to the peninsula, or you can go across the fairly new Tempisque Bridge along the top of the Nicoya Penninsula. From there it is a short drive to Tamarindo. These roads all vary depending on the time of year. Check on the roads before you choose your route. The shortest route is 255 km and takes about 3h 30 min.

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