How to get to Mal Pais / Santa Teresa Costa Rica

 In Travel

There are two main paths to get from San Jose International Airport SJO in Costa Rica to Mal Pais and Santa Teresa.  You can travel by Land or by Air.  If you are flying into Liberia International Airport you can travel to Mal Pais and Santa Teresa via land only and there are not many options for shuttles.  We suggest flying to SJO Airport if traveling to Mal Pais / Santa Teresa.

By Land

The journey to Mal Pais or Santa Teresa Costa Rica from San Jose is a leisurely 5.5 hour journey that can be viewed in 3 sections and  includes a pleasant ferry ride. The ferry hosts incredible views, a fun vibe and has a cafe on board.

Journey Overview from SJO

                                          San Jose Airport SJO >>> Puntarenas Ferry (1 – 1.5 hrs Drive)

                                         Board Ferry Puntarenas > Paquera (1.5 hrs Ferry Ride)

                                         Paquera Ferry Station >> Santa Teresa, Playa Carmen, Mal Pais (1.5 hrs Drive)

maps San Jose to Playa carmen, costa rica


From Liberia:  The total travel time is approx. 5 hrs by car. We suggest to book flights to San Jose if planning to visit the Mal Pais Santa Teresa area as there are not many options for shuttle from Liberia.


Puntarenas > Paquera Ferry

The Puntarenas ferry crosses the Nicoyo bay to Paquera multiple times per day. You can check the Paquera Ferry times here.  The cost for the ferry is approx. $20 USD for one car including driver.  The cost is approx. $1.50 for each additional person. If you are using a shuttle service the ferry cost is included in your ticket. There are two cafes on board.


Tambor Ferry to Playa Carmen in Costa Rica                    Ferry in Costa Rica

Class A Bus from San Jose, Costa Rica

Every day at 6 am and 2 pm there is a public bus from Downtown San Jose, the bus station is called “Terminal 7-10”, its $15 USD.  This bus is direct (gets on the ferry with you and then you re-board the bus after the ferry ride) it will arrive in Santa Teresa at the “CRUCE” at 12 noon or 8:30 pm.  From there you will need to get a taxi to INDIGO YOGA RESORT, 2 km South of the “CRUCE.” The buses are very comfortable, Class A style buses and sometimes offer Wifi.

By Shuttle   

*** This is the most common option***

From SJOShuttles typical pick you up at the airport, brings you to the ferry, includes a ferry ticket and you will enter the ferry by foot with your luggage.  The shuttle company will have a second shuttle waiting for you on the Paquera Arrival side to bring you to the retreat center.

From Liberia – Shuttles pick up at airport and bring you to hotel. Please note that it can be difficult to find a shared shuttle from Liberia and a private shuttle can be upwards of $200 USD.

Tropical Shuttles

Tropical Tours Shuttles Costa Rica San Jose > Santa Teresa/Mal Pais


By Rental Car

Check for car rentals from San Jose Airport Costa Rica to Mal Pais or Playa Carmen.  The cost to rent a car changes by the season. January is the peak of the season and is the most expensive month to rent while June – Novemner tend to be on the more economical scale. 

In Costa Rica most Car Rental Agencies require that you purchase the basic mandatory insurance which can range from $14 – $20/day.  This is most likely a charge they will tell you about on arrival, not while booking online.  The rental insurance offered online IS NOT the insurance you need and you should add the Costa Rican insurance on arrival.

Budget Rental Car (use Orbitz to find the best deals) is the only company in Costa Rica that will let you use your own insurance if you have it.  Many major Credit Cards cover you for insurance if you book a rental car with that Credit Card.  Please contact your Credit Card provider to confirm your coverage.

Please check the Paquera ferry times here.  The cost for the ferry is approx. $20 USD for one car including driver.  The cost is approx. $1.50 for each additional person. Plan to arrive early 2 hrs or more before the scheduled departure. The ferries do sell out. You can reserve your ferry as long as you have your liscense plate number using Quick Pay Costa Rica 

By Air

There are two regional airlines that fly from San Jose International Airport (SJO) Costa Rica to recently opened Cobano Regional Airport Costa Rica.

You can check flights on Green Airways Here or on Sansa Airlines Here.

From Cobano Airport it is a 20 min. taxi drive to Mal Pais, approx. $50 USD 

Looking for a Hotel or Hostel?

Use the following Search Box with out affiliate link to find your Hotel/Hostel before or after your course in Costa Rica! You can search anywhere in Costa Rica.


Start typing and press Enter to search