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How To Get From Tamarindo to Monteverde

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

The cloud forest is 114 km (70.83 mi) away from Tamarindo.

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 Tamarindo to Monteverde, 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde. 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde, 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde by how affordable each option is:

Most Affordable Ways to Get from Tamarindo to Monteverde

Most Affordable Ways to Get from Tamarindo to Monteverde

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.

Note: 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde by Bus

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

The cheapest way to get from Tamarindo to Monteverde is to use the public transportation system, but it isn’t easy. You will need to depart from Tamarindo at 7 am on a bus that will take between 5 and 6 hours to get to La Irma. Then you will need to wait between 2 and 3 hours at La Irma. Then, you need to take another bus from La Irma to Monteverde, which will take 1.5 hours. 

The total travel time from Tamarindo to Monteverde using the public bus system will take you between 10 and 11 hours. And switching buses can be a challenge if you don’t speak fluent Spanish. So, traveling by bus is the cheapest way to get from Tamarindo to Monteverde, but it’s also very inconvenient.  

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 make it. 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 will need to purchase the Tamarindo – San Jose bus tickets, which cost 5,000 colones per person (approximately $9). And you can’t buy them online, so you will need to get them at the terminal: 

Then, you must arrive at the bus terminal 10 minutes before the departure time, 7 am. As you get on the bus, you need to tell the bus driver that you need him to stop at La Irma, a small town alongside the Interamerican highway (a.k.a. Route 1). The bus will arrive there between 11 am and 1 pm, depending on the traffic condition. I would also recommend asking another bus user (i.e., a local) to help guide you when you arrive at La Irma. Alternatively, if you have an internet connection, you can use this Google Maps Link to know when to get off. 

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Once you arrive at La Irma Gas station, you will need to cross the street (Highway 1) to reach the Monteverde Bus stop. There is only one stop nearby, and you can easily see it from the gas station. However, if you need reassurance, you can ask the staff at the gas station to point you to it. Just say “Bus a Monteverde,” and they will understand what you mean. 

Note: The Monteverde bus stop at La Irma is also the stop for other bus routes, such as the bus from Liberia to Las Juntas and San Jose to Las Juntas. Don’t take those buses. Wait for the one labeled “Monteverde.” The Monteverde bus you need leaves Puntarenas at 2:30 pm, and it will arrive at your bus stop between 3:30 pm and 4 pm. 

As the Monteverde bus approaches, you need to wave your hand to make it 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. So, as it gets close to 3:30 pm, you need to pay close attention, look for the “Monteverde” sign and wave your hand to make the bus stop. Once you get on the bus, you need to pay the ticket price directly to the driver, which is $5 per person. 

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Warning: Seats are limited both for the bus from Tamarindo to La Irma, as well as the bu from La Irma to Monteverde, 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 Tamarindo to San Jose and from Puntarenas to Monteverde. That’s another reason why I mentioned earlier that using public transportation to get from Tamarindo to Monteverde can be a pain. 

The bus from La Irma to Monteverde will take 1.5 to 2 hours, so you will finally arrive at Monteverde between 5 and 6 pm. So, in conclusion, public transportation can be an affordable option to travel from Tamarindo to Monteverde 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde?

a highway with a mountain in the background

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

Driving is the fastest way to get from Tamarindo to Monteverde, 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde.

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

Fastest Ways to Get from Tamarindo to Monteverde

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 – 11 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde

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

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

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 Tamarindo to Monteverde 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde

Driving from Tamarindo to Monteverde 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde, 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde?

a group of people posing for the camera

We have already explored how complicated it is to get from Tamarindo to Monteverde 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde. 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 Monteverde. 

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 Tamarindo to your destination in Monteverde. 

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 Tamarindo to Monteverde. 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde. 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 Tamarindo to Monteverde 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, feel free to get in touch with us, and our team will happily get a quote for you. 

Using a Group Shuttle to Get from Tamarindo to Monteverde

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 Tamarindo to Monteverde 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 Monteverde 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, and vice versa. 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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