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How to Get From Arenal to Monteverde

How to Get From Arenal and La Fortuna to Monteverde

Getting From Arenal to Monteverde

Hundreds of thousands of tourists travel annually from Arenal to Monteverde. And you might be planning on going this route, but you’re probably not sure whether or not you should rent a car, hire a private transportation service, or use the Costa Rican public transportation system to make it, right?

Don’t worry. I got you. Many people have come to me with this question, and I’ve helped them find the best ways to get from Arenal to Monteverde in the most appropriate way. People have different backgrounds and needs. Thus, what may work for some might not work for others.

Therefore, this article will discuss the four main ways to get from Arenal to Monteverde, from using public buses to hiring a private transportation service. Let’s dive in and find out which option is best for you.

Disclaimer: I’m not too fond of ads on educational pages like this one because it ruins the reader experience. Therefore, I keep my website ad-free. However, I still need a way to make a living. Thus, this article contains affiliate links to book transportation, from which I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. After reading this post, if you decide to book a tour, please consider using the links on this post so that I can continue sharing unbiased, helpful information with your support. 

The Best Ways To Get From Arenal To Monteverde

  1. Public Transportation
  2. Group Shuttles
  3. Private Car Service
  4. Driving (Car Rental)

There are four ways to get from Arenal to Monteverde. First, you can use the Costa Rican public transportation system. Second, you can go on a group shuttle/boat (also known as the Jeep Boat Jeep Tour). Next, you can hire a transportation service. And lastly, you can rent a car and drive. Generally, the first two options are more affordable, and the other two are more convenient.

Public transportation is the cheapest but most inconvenient way to get from Arenal to Monteverde, while hiring a private car service is the fastest and most convenient way to travel.

On the other hand, renting a car and driving gives you more freedom, while going on a group shuttle gives you the best balance of price and comfort.  

Keep scrolling to find out how each option ranks against each other based on its pros and cons, and learn a few tips and recommendations to help you make the best out of your trip from Arenal to Monteverde. 

Let’s start by comparing the different ways to get from Arenal to Monteverde by how affordable each option is:

Cheapest Ways to Get from Arenal to Monteverde

Transportation Service Price Per Person (USD)
Public Transportation $15 – $25
Driving (Car Rental) $30 – $60
Jeep Boat Jeep $25 – $45
Private Car Service $125 – $150

Notes:

  • The above rates do not include taxes.
  • These prices assume there is a minimum of two travelers.
  • Renting a car consists of the base rate, insurance, and fuel.
  • Prices can fluctuate throughout the year based on the market conditions and demand.

Now, let’s cross this information against the following chart, which shows how long each option will take to get you from Arenal to Monteverde. Depending on your situation, time can be far more important than money. Therefore, using both data points will serve as a guide to help you determine which option works best for you to get from Arenal to Monteverde.

Fastest Ways to Get from Arenal to Monteverde

Transportation Service How Long it Takes
Driving (Car Rental)* 3 – 4 Hours
Private Car Service* 3 – 4 Hours
Jeep Boat Jeep 4 – 5 Hours
Public Transportation 5 – 8 Hours

*Going on a Private Car Service will be faster than Driving if you’re not used to driving in Costa Rica.

Okay, so now that you know how much it costs and how long it takes to get from Arenal to Monteverde, let’s go over the pros and cons of each option.

Keep reading more detailed information on each service and how they work.

1. Public Transportation from Arenal to Monteverde

a passenger bus that is parked on the side of a road

The cheapest way to get from Arenal to Monteverde is to use the Costa Rican public transportation system, but it isn’t easy. The entire trip will take between 5 and 8 hours, and you will have to change buses twice as there is no direct bus from Arenal to Monteverde. In addition, you must deal with non-English speaker drivers, which can be a bit challenging if you’re basic Spanish is not up to par.

However, the trip is doable, and I will explain everything you need to make it, including the links to the Google Maps of the bus terminals. After reading the following section, you should be ready to make this adventure of traveling from Arenal to Monteverde using the public transportation system like a local without a car would do. 

How to Get From Arenal to Monteverde by Bus

First, you must take a taxi from Arenal to La Fortuna, which depending on your location, will cost between $10 and $20. Then, you must catch the bus from La Fortuna to Tilaran at the La Fortuna – Tilaran Bus Terminal, which will cost about $7 (3,370 Costa Rican Colones). Even though this bus goes thrice daily at 8 am, 12:15 pm, and 5:30 pm, you must use the first one to arrive at Tilaran around 9:30 am.

Next, if you’re fortunate, you may arrive on time to catch the bus from Tilaran to Monteverde at the Tilaran – Monteverde Bus Terminal. That one leaves at 9:30 am, costs about $1.5 (930 Costa Rican Colones), and takes about 2.5 hours to reach Monteverde. Thus, you will arrive at Monteverde around noon. However, most of the time, the bus from La Fortuna arrives in Tilaran either at 9:30 am or later, which is not enough to make the connection on time. Therefore, you will likely need to wait in Tilaran for the next bus, which leaves at 12:15 pm and arrives in Monteverde at around 3 pm.

2. Jeep Boat Jeep from Arenal to Monteverde

Jeep Boat Jeep Tour from Arenal and La Fortuna to Monteverde

A Jeep Boat Jeep Tour is a semi-private transportation service from Arenal to Monteverde. Locals often refer to this service as “Taxi Boat Taxi,” and you share the cost with fellow travelers. You travel by Van from Arenal’s town to Arenal’s lake. Then you take a boat to cross the lake. And then, you take another Van from the other side of Arenal’s lake to Monteverde. The Vans and the Boats have capacities ranging between 10 and 20 passengers, and instead of paying for the entire car/boat, you pay a “per person” rate.

The service is door-to-door, meaning they pick you up at your hotel in Arenal and take you to your destination in Monteverde. And while the regular rate is $25 to $45 per person, depending on the season, you may be subject to an additional fuel surcharge, should your lodge be in a remote location. 

Generally, taking a Jeep Boat Jeep Tour is the most recommended way to get from Arenal to Monteverde for most travelers. That’s because the service is convenient and provides the best balance between saving time and money for travelers in most cases.

Booking a Jeep Boat Jeep Tour from Arenal to Monteverde is more accessible and less stressful than renting a car and driving if you’ve never driven in Costa Rica. It will also be far more convenient than public transportation yet significantly less expensive than hiring a private car service such as a Taxi, an Uber, or a personal driver. 

3. Private Car Service from Arenal to Monteverde

Private Transportation from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde

The most exclusive means of transportation from Arenal to Monteverde is to hire an Uber, a Taxi, or a Private Driver. While Uber and Taxis are often more readily available, they also tend to be more expensive. Private Drivers are nine times out of ten less costly but require a prepaid reservation.

On the one hand, Uber bases the rates on demand, making it impossible to predict how much the trip will cost. On the other hand, Taxis will often charge you both ways, from Arenal to Monteverde and then from Monteverde back to Arenal, even when you only need them one way.

Noteworthy: Another aspect to consider is that Uber is illegal in Costa Rica. They still operate around the country but are not an official means of transportation. Consequently, they don’t offer insurance in the event of an accident. And, if you take an Uber and the police stop it for a check (which they do regularly), the driver will get a fine, and you will need to get off the vehicle. Therefore, you will lose your trip and your money.

On the other hand, Taxis charge you both ways because, according to the law, they can only operate within their jurisdiction. Consequently, they can’t offer their service to other customers when they leave their region. Therefore, if they take you from Arenal to Monteverde, they can’t work until they return to Arenal.

That’s why you seldom see a tourist using a Taxi to travel long distances in Costa Rica. Instead, taxis are often used for short trips within a region or as a last resort for long trips whenever Private Drivers are unavailable.

Booking a Private Driver from Arenal to Monteverde is a more accessible option to travel quickly and relatively less expensive than using a similar service such as Uber or Taxi Cars. It will also be far more convenient than public transportation and car renting. And you will not need to cross the lake on a boat. However, if you’re a solo traveler or travel in couples, a Private Driver will be more expensive than all the means above of transportation. 

The rates for a Private Driver from Arenal to Monteverde are $250 – $300, depending on the season. However, these rates are per car, not per person. Therefore, contrary to the Jeep Boat Jeep Tour, where you pay a “per person” rate, the rates for a Private Driver will still be about the same whether you travel solo or with your family. 

We’ve covered the pros and cons of going from Arenal to Monteverde using public transportation, Jeep Boat Jeep tours, and private transportation. Let’s now talk about driving.

4. Driving from Arenal to Monteverde

Driving from Manuel Antonio to Monteverde

The most flexible way to get from Arenal to Monteverde is to rent a car and drive. Driving allows you to spend your time as you deem more appropriate. It also gives you more privacy: no need to wake up early to catch a bus and no need to travel with strangers. Furthermore, renting a car gives you an excellent value for money, compared to all other means of transportation discussed.

Renting a car is also a great way to stop to appreciate the magical scenery you will encounter from Arenal to Monteverde.

Beautiful Scenery from Tilaran to Monteverde

Beautiful Scenery from Arenal to Monteverde

However, driving in Costa Rica is not easy unless you have previous experience riding in a similar country. Costa Rica’s roads are somewhat lousy, with potholes everywhere. Besides, the streets are narrow and precariously illuminated and labeled. Furthermore, touristy destinations like Arenal and Monteverde have many unpaved, bumpy roads.

Another aspect to consider is that Costa Ricans drive significantly faster than foreigners. In addition to this, since we know the roads, as locals, we can make risky moves that might scare someone who has never driven in our country. Consequently, tourists often feel stressed and under pressure. 

On the other hand, you have the unpredictable weather conditions of Costa Rica. You might be driving with a clear sky when suddenly a cloud forms ahead, pouring rain all over the place. Going under changing weather conditions might not be a big problem during the summertime from December through April. However, it can get extremely challenging during the rainy season, from May through November.

The rain also causes a lot of damage to the roads, which worsens during the rainy season. Many potholes come to life during this time of the year, and it takes a couple of months for the government to repair the cracks. During this time of the year, I see tourists on the side of the road with flat tires and other mechanical issues almost daily. And I lost count of the number of times I’ve pulled them out of deep, muddy potholes with my truck.

Issues like those mentioned above are not dramatic, but they can ruin a few hours of your dream trip to Costa Rica, dealing with insurance companies, and whatnot. Hence, I only recommend you rent a car and drive if you know what you’re getting into before making that decision.

And, if you still decide to rent a car and drive, I recommend you use the Costa Rica Rental Car Comparison Tool. This tool compares the best rental car deals in real-time, ensuring you get the best-guaranteed bang for your buck. I’ve been using this tool for many years and still use it once a year when my brother, who lives abroad, comes to visit us. Check it out. I highly recommend it.

Here’s the end of this article. Thank you for reading this far, and feel free to share this info with fellow travelers as you deem appropriate. Happy travels and ¡Pura Vida, amigos!

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About the Author

Daniel Lalinde holding a mountain bikeDaniel Lalinde

I am the founder of Monteverde Tours Online. I live in Monteverde and love nature, adventure, and Mountain Biking. My partner and I love spending time outdoors and dining in Monteverde. We have more than 30 years of combined experience in the area, and there is no park, coffee shop, or restaurant we haven’t tried at least once!

We love helping visitors and connecting them with the different tours and activities to have a memorable experience in Monteverde.

If you need help planning things to do in the area, send us a message, and we will happily assist you!