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How To Get From Monteverde To Tamarindo

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Hundreds of thousands of tourists travel from Monteverde to Tamarindo every year. 

I’ve done this trip many times, and I’ve also helped dozens of people make it through my travel agency, Monteverde Tours Online.

In this post, I will share the best ways to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo, as well as the pros and cons of each option to determine which one suits you best. 

Let’s dive right in:

There are four ways to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo. You can use public transportation, go on a group shuttle, hire a private transportation service or rent a car and drive. In general, the first two options are more affordable but the latter more convenient.

Public transportation is the cheapest way to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo, while driving is the fastest way to travel.

On the other hand, getting a private transportation service is the easiest option, 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 Monteverde to Tamarindo. 

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

Most Affordable Ways to Get from Monteverde to Tamarindo

Transportation Service Price Per Person (USD)
Public Transportation $15 – $25
Driving (Car Rental) $30 – $60
Group Shuttle $50 – $60
Private Transfer $80 – $100

Notes:

  • The above rates do not include the 13% IVA tax.
  • 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.

The above prices are estimations to give you an idea.

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

How To Get from Monteverde to Tamarindo by Bus

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

The cheapest way to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo is to use the public transportation system, but it isn’t easy. You will need to depart from Monteverde pretty early, and it will take you about 12 hours in total to get to Tamarindo. 

In addition to this long travel time, you will need to take two or three buses (depending on the route you choose, which I will explain soon), and doing this can be a challenge if you don’t speak fluent Spanish. That’s why I only recommend it if you are traveling on a tight budget. And if this is your case, stick around as I explain how to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo using public transportation. Let’s go over this process step by step; 

First, you need to purchase your tickets ahead of time, ideally one or two days before the departure day. You can try to buy the tickets online via the Transmonteverde website, but bear in mind that this site does not always provide real-time availability of tickets. I have also noticed that sometimes the site doesn’t work, so you may have to go to the office and buy them in person. 

You will need to purchase the tickets to Route 625 Monteverde – Puntarenas through Las Juntas. Make sure to choose Monteverde as the departing city and La Irma as the destination city. You will notice there are two departing times, 4:20 am and 3 pm. You will want to choose the early option. I know it’s very early, but the entire trip can take up to 12 hours, so I recommend you select the 4:20 am departure.

Then, you will want to arrive at least 5 minutes before the departure time on the departure day to check in. The bus will leave at 4:20 am with or without you. Here is the map to the bus terminal from where the bus departs: 

As you get on the bus, I recommend telling the driver that you need to get off at La Irma to let him know he needs to stop there when the time comes. La Irma is a small town alongside the Interamerican highway (a.k.a. Route 1). You will also want to ask a local or the driver to let you know once you reach La Irma, so you don’t miss getting off there. But if you miss that stop, you can still get off at the next bus stop in Arizona, the next small town alongside Route 1.

The bus will get to La Irma at around 6:00 am. You will ask the driver to point you to the Tamarindo bus stop as you get off the bus. It’s pretty close to where the Monteverde bus will drop you off, but you want to ask to be sure you get to the right place. The bus driver will not speak English, but you can say, “Bus a Tamarindo por favor.” He will get that you are heading there and point you to the bus stop.

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Bus Route from Monteverde to La Irma

Once you are at the bus stop, you will need to wait a few hours for the Tamarindo bus to show up. The bus leaves San Jose at 8 am, and it will pass by La Irma at around 11 am. That’s why I mentioned earlier that it takes a long time to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo by bus. 

The next step is a bit tricky. You need to pay attention and look for the buses labeled “Tamarindo,” which will be coming from your left (i.e., from San Jose). And you will need to wave with your hand as they approach to make them stop. That’s because, as I explain in my article “How to Get from San Jose to Monteverde,” bus drivers in Costa Rica don’t make stops unless someone needs them to stop. 

Waving your hand as a bus is getting close signals the driver that you need them to stop. Many buses pass by this bus stop as this is the main route connecting San Jose to the country’s Northern side. So, as it gets close to 11 am, you need to pay close attention, look for the “Tamarindo” sign and wave your hand to make the bus stop. If you miss that bus, the next one leaves San Jose at 10:45 am and will pass by La Irma at around 2 pm. 

Once the Tamarindo bus stops, you will need to pay directly to the driver 5,000 colones (about $9) cash, and it will take about 2 hours for you to get to Tamarindo. 

Warning: You can’t buy the Tamarindo tickets online, which means you may have to travel standing during that ride if no seats are available, which is usually the case on Fridays and Saturdays when more people travel from San Jose to Tamarindo. That’s another reason why I mentioned earlier that using public transportation to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo can be a pain. 

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Bus Route from La Irma to Tamarindo

You will finally arrive in Tamarindo at around 4 pm, after a pretty long day. So, in conclusion, public transportation can be an affordable option to travel from Monteverde to Tamarindo for low-budget trips, backpackers, and solo travelers. But it’s not an easy task, and it will take a whole day of traveling. 

Let’s explore other options to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo;

What’s The Fastest Way to Get from Monteverde to Tamarindo?

a highway with a mountain in the background

Now that we know how long it takes to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo using public transportation, let’s talk about how to make this trip a lot faster. 

Driving is the fastest way to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo, which will take between 3 and 4 hours. A more precise estimate will depend on the traffic conditions and your experience driving around the country. On average, tourists take 4 hours to drive from Monteverde to Tamarindo.

Compared to all the other ways to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo, driving is the fastest way, as shown in the below comparison table:

Fastest Ways to Get from Monteverde to San Jose

Transportation Service How Long it Takes
Driving (Car Rental)* 3 – 4 Hours
Private Transfer* 3 – 4 Hours
Group Shuttle 4 – 5 Hours
Public Bus 10 – 12 Hours

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

Cons of Driving from Monteverde to Tamarindo

Driving from Monteverde to Tamarindo has a couple of caveats you should consider before you decide on renting a car to make this trip. 

There Are No Car Rentals Based in Monteverde

The main problem with driving from Monteverde to Tamarindo is no car rental agencies based in Monteverde. So, if you plan to arrive at Monteverde using public transportation and then drive from Monteverde to Tamarindo, that will not be an option. 

There are car rental agencies in other touristy destinations nearby like Arenal, but that will not be helpful if you are in Monteverde because it can take up to three hours to get to Arenal, even though it’s less than 20 miles away.

Keep the above in mind when planning your trip to Monteverde. If you decide that you want to drive a vehicle from Monteverde to your next destination, you will need to have come to Monteverde by car in the first place. 

If you are already in Monteverde and you don’t have a car, go ahead and skip the rest of this section, as it will not apply to you.

Driving is Not Always the Fastest Way to Get from Monteverde to Tamarindo

As mentioned above, on average, it takes between 3 and 4 hours to drive from Monteverde to Tamarindo. However, these averages are more realistic and applicable to those used to driving in Costa Rica. They do not necessarily apply to foreigners. 

The Google Maps average time from Monteverde to Tamarindo bases its calculation on real-time traffic speed. However, most tourists drive at a significantly slower pace than locals. You will experience this if you decide to rent a car for your trip to Costa Rica. More likely than not, you will drive more slowly than Costa Ricans, and that’s because you will probably want to enjoy the incredible scenery, while the average local will be rushing to get home from work. 

As a general rule, I recommend adding 30 to 60 minutes to the estimated driving time the GPS device/app gives you. I also recommend you use Waze, the most popular GPS traffic system used in Costa Rica. I drive approximately 50,000 kilometers per year (about 31,000 miles), and in my experience, Waze tends to be more accurate than Google Maps. The only drawback is that you need internet data to use Waze, so you will want to buy a chip with internet data if you want to use it.

Driving is Not the Easiest Way to Get from Monteverde to Tamarindo

Driving from San Jose to Tamarindo is simple, but it’s not always easy. There are crazy local drivers, unpredictable and harsh weather conditions, and narrow roads in bad shape. 

As mentioned above, you will notice 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 before. 

For example, on highway 1, one of the main routes to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo, you might see someone going at full speed, passing multiple vehicles at once on a relatively narrow road.

If you live in Costa Rica and have been through that route thousands of times, you will not see anything particularly wrong with this. But if you come from a developed country where the roads are much broader, and there are usually multiple lines on all the highways, you might see such a move as imprudent. 

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, and it’s pouring rain all over the place. Driving under changing weather conditions might not be such a big problem during the summertime from December through April, but it can get extremely challenging during the rainy season. 

In Costa Rica, the rainy season is not so bad from May through August and in November. However, it can get scary sometimes during September and October, especially if you stumble upon a storm while driving. These are the top 2 rainy months and the top months for accidents on the road. 

The rain also causes a lot of damage to the roads, which worsens during the rainy season. Lots of potholes come to life during this time of the year, and then it takes a couple of months for the government to repair the cracks. 

The main problem with potholes for a tourist is that they can make a vehicle’s tire explode. Exploding tires do not usually cause a significant number of accidents in Costa Rica. However, they can easily create a trip very stressful for a tourist, who will need to phone in the car rental to get another vehicle and then file the insurance paperwork. It’s not dramatic, but it can ruin a few hours of your dream vacation time. 

What’s The Easiest Way to Get from Monteverde to Tamarindo?

a group of people posing for the camera

We have already explored how complicated it is to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo using public transportation. We also covered how driving can be problematic, so what’s the easiest way to make this trip? 

Hiring a Private Transportation Service, or a “Private Shuttle,” as locals call it, is the easiest way to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo. With a private shuttle, you can arrange a specific time and place, and a transportation company will pick you up there and take you to your lodge in Tamarindo. 

With this private door-to-door service, you don’t need to worry about carrying your luggage around or catching a bus in the middle of the public road, compromising your safety and belongings. 

You also don’t need to worry about driving in a foreign country with roads that might differ significantly from the streets you’re used to riding back home. 

Instead, you arrange the pickup time and place. Then, a local professional driver will pick you up with a modern vehicle to take you from your departure place in Monteverde to your destination in Tamarindo. 

The only disadvantage of hiring this type of transportation service is the price. Going on a private transfer is the most expensive way to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo. It’s the most comfortable, convenient, and easiest option, but it’s also pricey. 

Depending on the pickup and dropoff places, a private transfer will cost between $160 and $200 for 1 to 4 passengers. The pickup time can also influence your pricing. For example, if you want to travel at night, the prices might get $20+ higher for this service. 

Prices for private transfers are also subject to increase as demand rises, especially during the busiest days, so I would recommend that you book ahead of time. 

There is a couple of scenarios where hiring a private transfer will not be the most expensive option to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo. For example, if your party is 3 or 4 passengers, hiring a private transportation service will be more economical than using a group shuttle, which I will explain in the next section. 

Group shuttles charge a per-person price, while private transfers charge a per-trip fee. Getting a group shuttle from Monteverde to Tamarindo will cost $67 per adult, so the total for three adults would be $201. In contrast, the same trip with a private shuttle might cost you around $180. 

So, in this scenario, it’s not only more comfortable and convenient to hire a private transfer, but it’s also more economically efficient. If this is your case and you need help arranging a private transfer, get in touch with us, and our team will happily get a quote for you. 

Using a Group Shuttle to Get from Monteverde to Tamarindo

a van parked on the side of a road

A group shuttle is a daily door-to-door shared transportation service from Monteverde to Tamarindo. A modern Van with A / C will pick you up at your lodge in Monteverde and take you to Tamarindo.

As a general rule, taking a group shuttle, or a “shared shuttle,” as the locals call it, is the most recommended door-to-door way to get from Monteverde to Tamarindo for most travelers. Group shuttles are convenient, and they provide the best balance, saving time and money for travelers in most cases.

On a group shuttle, you share the shuttle service with fellow travelers, and you also share the cost, which is usually the best option for solo travelers and couples. Using this option to get to Tamarindo will be far more convenient than riding the public bus and significantly less expensive than hiring a private transfer. 

Using a group shuttle is also be a lot easier and less stressful than renting a car and driving yourself. The price can change depending on the seasonality and demand, but it’s usually around $67 per person per way. 

With my travel agency, Monteverde Tours Online, I’ve used the group shuttle services thousands of times over the last decade, bringing customers from San Jose to Monteverde, as well as taking them from Monteverde to Tamarindo. If you are heading to these routes, you can use the following links to book this service: 

About the Author

Daniel Lalinde holding a mountain bikeDaniel Lalinde

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

We love helping visitors, 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! 

 

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