Taking the Puntarenas-Paquera Ferry

Last Updated: April 1, 2024

With Costa Rica’s zigzagging roads and spread out destinations, getting from point A to point B can be either half the fun or the most frustrating part of your trip. But if you’re planning to visit areas on Costa Rica’s southern Nicoya Peninsula like Tambor, Montezuma, Mal Pais, or Santa Teresa, one great option is to take the Puntarenas Ferry. This ferry accommodates passengers but you can also take your car. In this post, we’ll explain when using the ferry makes sense and give you all the details to make your ride as stress-free as possible.

Taking the Puntarenas-Paquera Ferry | Two Weeks in Costa Rica

About the Puntarenas Ferry

The Puntarenas Ferry travels between the ports of Puntarenas on the central Pacific coast and Paquera on the Nicoya Peninsula. The ride across the bay is 11 nautical miles and takes about 70 minutes.

The large ship holds 170 cars and up to 700 passengers but is rarely full. Because of the size, the ferry is very steady in the water and you can hardly feel any movement from waves or winds.

The views along the way are beautiful too and make for a nice break from driving or riding the bus. Our first ride on the Puntarenas Ferry was back in 2007 when we took the public bus from San Jose to Montezuma. On more recent trips, we had a car and chose to take the ferry to save time driving.

Taking the Puntarenas-Paquera Ferry Views of the Gulf | Two Weeks in Costa Rica

Tip: Riding the ferry can cut off hours of travel time if you are accessing the southern Nicoya Peninsula from the central Pacific coast/San Jose or vice-versa. If you are coming from or going to Guanacaste or points up the coast, it probably makes more sense to drive the roads along the peninsula instead.

Buying Tickets

IMPORTANT UPDATE: You can now buy tickets for the Puntarenas-Paquera ferry in advance online. We recommend doing this if you can because then your spot is guaranteed. This is especially important during busy holiday weeks like around Christmas, New Years, and Semana Santa (Easter) when the ferry fills up.

Here is a link to the ticket website. It is all in Spanish, but isn’t too hard to figure out if you translate it. You can translate the whole page using Google Translate. 

Here are a few tips for using the website.

Under Salida y Destino, select if you are traveling from Puntarenas to Paquera or vice-versa. Then you can select your date and the time you’d like to take the ferry.

Under Tipo de servicio (type of service), if you are traveling without a car select persona(s). Then indicate the number of adults, children, and seniors in your group. If you will be bringing a car onto the ferry, select Vehiculo (vehicle). A list of vehicle types will pop up. Choose Vehiculo Liviano (passenger vehicle) and then add the number of adults, children, and seniors below.

Where it asks for the license plate number (Número de placa del vehículo), you can write Rental Car if you don’t have the car yet. You will just have to go into the ticket office with your receipt and license plate number upon arrival at the port. 

Add your name (Nombre del cliente), email address (Correo Electrónico), and phone number (Número de teléfono).

If the website is not showing any available tickets, that doesn’t mean that the ferry is sold out. The website can sell only a limited number. More tickets may be available for direct purchase at the ferry dock (see instructions below).

After putting in all your information, you will be able to pay with your credit card to finalize the purchase.

It will ask what type of receipt you need (datos para factura). This is for people that need one for Costa Rica tax purposes. If you are a foreigner, you can select sin factura (without receipt).

After check out, you’ll then receive an email from Quickpay with a link to your ticket (click the image in the email to open it). 

Save the ticket to your phone’s documents in case you don’t have a signal to open it at the docks (especially on Paquera side). 

Get your return ferry tickets at the same time (Paquera a Puntarenas).  

How it Works

Taking the Bus

If you are riding a direct bus between San Jose and Santa Teresa or Montezuma, your driver will pull up to the ferry landing in either Puntarenas or Paquera. You’ll then get a ticket from the driver for the ferry (included in the bus fare), get your bags from under the bus, and wait in a designated area while the bus parks on the boat. When it’s time to board, you’ll walk onto the ferry with your bags and then board the same bus again on the other side.

If you are taking collective buses to Puntarenas or Paquera (buses that make local stops between destinations), buy your ticket online or read the instructions below for how to buy your ticket at the ferry dock.

Boarding the Ferry with a Car

If you’re planning to take your car across, the process is a little different and there are more steps. Below we’ll give instructions for both the Puntarenas Ferry terminal and the Paquera Ferry terminal.

Important: If you have not pre-purchased tickets online and are taking your car across, you will need to get in the regular line of cars (explained below) and wait for an employee to come over. They will give you a plastic ticket and tell you to bring it to the ticket office. You won’t be able to purchase the ferry ticket for your car without the plastic ticket. 

From Puntarenas

In Puntarenas, much of the city is built on a long point that juts out into the ocean. To get to the ferry terminal, just follow the main road, Avenue Central, all the way to the end of the point and take a right. The terminal is located around the corner from a small water park and lighthouse. This area is a little confusing since the docks are hard to see and there are a lot of different buildings. People are also likely to come up to you and offer their help. They do this in exchange for a tip at the end. The process is easy enough to do on your own, though.

The first step is to get your car in line. Look for a yellow gate and blue sign (pictured below) that says Entrada de Pasajeros/Passenger Entry. To the right of this gate/sign, there is a large paved area where the cars, vans, trucks, and buses line up. Don’t be scared, just drive in and get in line. Stay to the left if there is room. A ferry employee will guide you to the right spot.

Taking the Puntarenas-Paquera Ferry - How to Drive Aboard | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Look for this gate when parking your car

Note: If you are running late or it is very busy (weekends/holidays), sometimes the line can extend down the street. Try to arrive at least 45 minutes to 1 hour early to avoid having to rush.

Have your pre-purchased tickets ready (digitally on your phone is fine), or if you still need to buy them, have someone get out of the car to get them. You will need tickets for each person in your car and the car itself. Directly across the street is a small building that says Boleteria Ferry a Paquera (pictured below). 

Taking the Puntarenas-Paquera Ferry - Finding the Ticket Office | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Ticket Counter

At the Boleteria building, you will probably have to wait in a short line to get your tickets. The fares are displayed on the wall (see the end of this post for fares too). They only accept cash and do not take $50 or $100 bills.

Once you have your tickets, you can return to your car. They prefer that only the driver remain in the car during boarding so other passengers usually get out and walk onto the ferry when the time comes. If you have young kids or older passengers, though, they will probably allow it.

As you drive on, ferry employees will guide you to a parking spot on the ship. Lock everything up and go find your group on the upper decks.

Taking the Puntarenas-Paquera Ferry - Taking Your Car | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Parking area

From Paquera

The ferry terminal in Paquera is much smaller and less hectic than the one in Puntarenas. The process is almost the same too. To get to the ferry terminal, you take the road (Route 621) past the Pali grocery store and gas station in Paquera and follow it to the end. When you arrive, park in one of the lines with help from the ferry employee and go inside the building to buy your tickets if you didn’t already get them online. Only one person has to go; the other passengers can stay with the car/luggage. There is a blue ticket counter (pictured below) inside the building.

Taking the Puntarenas-Paquera Ferry - Paquera Ticket Office | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Ticket counter in Paquera

Again, make sure to buy a ticket for your car and each passenger. The fares are displayed on the adjacent wall (see the end of this post too). They only accept cash and do not take $50 or $100 bills. Once you have your tickets, you can return to your car. If you have extra time, there is a cafeteria-style restaurant in the building on the Paquera side that sells food and drinks. There’s a restroom too.

As in Puntarenas, they prefer that only the driver remain in the car during boarding so other passengers usually get out and walk onto the ferry when the time comes. If you have young kids or older passengers, though, they will probably allow it. When it is time to board, ferry employees will guide you onto the boat to a parking spot. Lock everything up and go find your group on the upper decks.

The Ferry Ride

The ferry has an open parking deck on the bottom and two upper decks for passengers and crew. If you’re taking your car across, you’ll go up to the passenger decks after you park. The same is true for the bus. No one except crew is allowed on the vehicle deck during the trip so that your belongings are kept secure. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to carry your valuables (cash, passports, etc.) on you.

The top deck has a canopy to help block the sun but is otherwise open to the elements. This is the best place in our opinion to catch great views of the gulf and small islands.

There is a snack bar on this deck that sells basic things like chips, empanadas, water, beer, and sodas.

Taking the Puntarenas-Paquera Ferry - The Ride | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Upper deck

Tip: Be careful of the sun. Even with the shade of the canopy, we have gotten a sunburn during the 70-minute ride. Also if you are wearing a hat, hold onto it. We have seen a lady’s brand new sun hat get blown overboard by the wind.

If you’re not up for the open air, the middle deck is fully enclosed with air conditioning, a larger snack bar that has more types of food and drink, and TVs with kid’s shows playing. The seats are also more comfortable, with some couch-style seating.

Each deck is also handicap accessible via a small elevator; just ask a ferry employee for help.

Taking the Puntarenas-Paquera Ferry - Inside the Ferry | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Enclosed second deck

Puntarenas Ferry Schedule

Leaves from Puntarenas at: 4:00 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., and 10:00 p.m. 

Leaves from Paquera at: 4:00 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., and 10:00 p.m.

Ticket Prices

Adults: ₡810 (about $1.50)
Children Under 12: ₡485 (about $1)
Regular Sized Vehicle: ₡12,882 (about $24)
Motorcycle: ₡3,842 (about $7)
Bicycle: ₡2,486 (about $5)

Note: To double check the schedule or rates, visit the Naviera Tambor website.

If you’re looking to cut some driving time off your next trip to the Nicoya Peninsula, we highly recommend taking the ferry between Puntarenas and Paquera. The ride is beautiful and you won’t regret it.

Last Updated: April 1, 2024

Have you taken the Puntarenas Ferry? Leave us a comment about your experience below.

Looking for more information to help plan your trip to the Nicoya Peninsula? Check out these posts:

Santa Teresa: Costa Rica’s Trending Beach Town: Santa Teresa/Mal Pais has become one of Costa Rica’s hottest beach towns. It has awesome beaches to check out and tons of restaurants and trendy hotels. Check out our guide to visiting this remote destination.

Montezuma: A Bohemian Beach Town: This laid-back beach town is another fun one to visit on the southern Nicoya Peninsula. Our article has some of the best restaurants, hotels, and other activities you won’t want to miss. 

Rental Car DiscountFind out how to save on a rental car for your trip, plus get extras like a free second driver, free surf rack, and discounted GPS.


  1. Hi,
    We took the ferry in March when we visited and we really enjoyed it. Try coming back on the 5:00 p.m. ferry as you can watch the beautiful sunset!! They played music it felt like we were on a tour boat lol. We had a great experience!

    1. I’m planning on taking the ferry from Puntarenas to Pacquera, staying two nights at Playa Tambor. After that I plan to drive too Playa coyote. Do you know what kind of roads I can expect. And which is the best route between playa Tambor and playa coyote? Thank you, we do have an older Toyota 4-runner.

      1. Hi Dianne, We have never driven to Playa Coyote. It’s in a remote area. We’re not sure if it would be best to drive around the península, heading north from Tambor on Route 21 and then down 162, or if you’d be okay driving over to Santa Teresa then up the coast past Hermosa and Manzanillo. It gets rougher and rural (with river crossings) after Hermosa so we would ask whoever you’re staying with in Coyote what they recommend.

    1. Hi Casey,
      To our knowledge, yes the Naranjo ferry leaves from the dock that connects with this one. The Boleteria directly across the street only sold tickets for the Paquera Ferry but we did see another building/restaurant with a Boleteria sign saying something about Naranjo. It was just one or two buildings down from the one we describe above but was closed when we were there. If you end up making that trip let us know how it goes.

  2. Hi Matt and Jenn! Love your blog! I’m with my family for 2 weeks in CR now about to end our stay in Playa Junquillal. We will stay in the MA area for the next 4 nights. We’d like to take this ferry and see it leaves from Playa Naranjo on our map. Is this still up and running? Any tips? Thanks

    1. Hi Kara, As far as we know, the Naranjo ferry is still in operation. We haven’t taken it ourselves though. Last time we took the Paquera ferry, we saw the ticket booth for Naranjo on the Puntarenas side, but it was closed at the time. Not sure if you’re thinking about taking it for the scenery, but the roads from Junquillal to Manuel Antonio are in really good condition, once you get out of the Junquillal area anyway (Routes 21 to 18 to 1).

      UPDATE (7/8/16): We heard back from Kara and this is what she had to say about the Naranjo ferry: “We did take the ferry from Naranjo to Puntarenas today without a hitch. It probably added time but was a nice diversion from only driving. Thanks for your help!”

  3. Hola! I currently moved to Nosara and am going to visit Tortuga Island. I will be staying in Paquera and want to visit Punta Arenas (if it is worth visiting) via the ferry. Can you recommend restaurants or things to do in Puntarenas? I am open to any suggestions about my trip.

    1. Hi Rachel, Puntarenas is a port city where a lot of locals live, but it doesn’t offer a whole lot to travelers and isn’t very scenic. We would recommend heading south when you get off the ferry. One gorgeous beach about 45 min south is Playa Blanca (more info here). A few miles past that is Jaco, a developed beach town with a lot of things to do and great restaurants. About an hour south of that is Manuel Antonio, which has beautiful beaches, rainforest, and a lot of wildlife. You would want to do an overnight for Manuel Antonio, but could do Playa Blanca or Jaco on a day trip from Paquera. Hope that helps!

  4. Will be in Costa Rica first 2 weeks of febuary. Can you recommend a reasonable place to stay around Montezuma and Manuel Antonio. Also do you know of any fairs going on at that time. Thanks

    1. Hi Roger, We have some options for lodging in those destinations in our Montezuma and Manuel Antonio posts. As for fairs, this is actually the time of year that the fair is touring around. We think that it is in Parrita (town about 25 min from Manuel Antonio) now for the next two weeks. It has some rides, food, and a rodeo, and is a really fun cultural event.

    2. Hello Jenn & Matt,
      I’m coming from Quepos and heading to Montezuma. Can this trip all be done by public transport. Once catching the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera is there then a public bus I can catch to the Montezuma Bus terminal? Thank you for your help.

  5. Hola! My husband & I are coming to CR for 5 month extended vaca (May-Oct). Know you need return ticket to enter-can your return ticket date be for more than 90 days from entry date? Have read about Panama/Nicaragua trip to renew visa, or go thru Imagration for fee. Do you know if our return ticket will be accepted upon entry with an extended leave date? Thanks for any help – your info on site has been super helpful-very thorough and informative.

    1. Hi Heryl, Your return ticket needs to show travel out of Costa Rica with 90 days or they won’t let you in. People in your situation often buy a refundable ticket to meet the requirement or a flexible ticket that lets you change the date.

      1. Thanks so much for the info! Glad I hadn’t booked flight yet. So glad I found your website – it is the best! Love reading your experiences and can hardly wait to have our own Pura Vida! Thanks again!

      2. Jenn and Matt,
        YIKES…We have tickets to visit to visit Costa Rica from 12/3/2019 to 3/9/20. what can we do …it is over 90 days.

  6. Thanks for the blow-by-blow description of catching the car ferry in Puntarenas to Paquera, and the details of cost and time. I’ve been going to CR for 30+ years, and didn’t know about Curu or this ferry. Thanks again. Carleen

  7. Would you recommend taking the puntarenas ferry when going from Manuel Antonio to Samara? I understand taking the ferry if you’re on the southern portion of the peninsula but what about in the middle? What is the road like from Paquera? We will have a 4×4. Thanks for your suggestions!

    1. Hi Andrea, You could take the ferry but it’s faster to just drive. You’ll take Route 34 to 27 to 1 to 18 to 21 to 150. These roads are all smooth and fast so you don’t need the ferry to avoid them. The ferry is used mostly to access the Southern Nicoya/points south of Jicaral – that’s where the roads get bad. If you wanted to do it just for fun (it is a nice ride), last time we visited that area (2016), the road was rough dirt between Paquera and Naranjo. Fine with a 4×4, though.

  8. I am headed to CR in a few days. Staying in El Roble @ The Hilton resort. However, I will only be there for 4 days, 3 nights, and I am trying to cram in numerous beach trips. Can I take the ferry from the area where I am staying to get to Tortuga Island? I will have a rental car. And if you can suggest anything else exciting on that side of the coast I would appreciate it. I’m not into the wildlife, snorkeling stuff… just want really great food, scenery, and beaches. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kris, The ferry doesn’t go to Tortuga Island, unfortunately. You have to go as part of a catamaran tour, which I’m sure can be arranged from your hotel. If you’re looking for nice beaches, you should take a day trip to Playa Mantas and Playa Blanca near Jaco. These are some of the nicest beaches in the area. Jaco also has really great restaurant options (read our destination guide to Jaco for recommendations). It would be a long day, but you could also check out Manuel Antonio. It has really nice beaches and views, and has more of a rainforest feel than El Roble. It’s about a 2 hour drive. Hope you have a great visit!

  9. Hello! So happy to have found you two!!! We’re meeting our daughter in Heredia (we’ll have a 4X4) in late June. After spending 1 night in Heredia, we plan to head to Jaco for 3 nights and explore the coast for day trips as far down as Manuel Antonio, then take the Ferry to Paquera and spend a night in Montezuma . We’d like to also head over to Tamarindo area after that for a few nights. In your opinion, what would be the best route to Tamarindo from Montezuma? Drive up the peninsula, or take the ferry back and drive from Puntarenas? Very conflicted after reading up on this!!! From Tamarindo, we’d like to visit Monteverde and Fortuna before heading back to San Jose to fly home! Any suggestions you have for me would be so greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Chrissie, I think it’s faster to just drive up the peninsula to get to Tamarindo and skip the ferry. If you have a 4×4, it’s not a bad drive. You might want to spend 2 nights in Montezuma since one might feel rushed. As far as tips, make sure to spend at least a couple of nights in Monteverde since it takes some time to get to. Many people try to go as a day trip or for one night but we don’t recommend that. We have detailed posts with hotel, activity, and restaurant recommendations for each of the towns you’ll be visiting on our site. You can find them on our Destinations page. Hope your family has a great trip!

      1. Hello Jenn and Matt! We are presently in Jaco and are getting ready to leave for Montezuma via the ferry! We chose to rent a home on VRBO for three nights so as to allow for a more relaxed exploration of the area… After that, we will then drive up the peninsula to Playa Flamingo. Thanks so much for you advice … You have been so helpful!

  10. We will take the ferry (with car) tomorrow from Paquera. Your information is really helpful, appreciate it! Thanks and greetings! Thomas & Martina

  11. Hello Jenn and Matt! My family and I are considering renting a house in Malpais for the last three nights of our first trip to Costa Rica. So excited! However, we would need to cross with our rental car on the ferry on December 24th. Any idea if the ferry runs on Christmas Eve? I checked out the ferry website but my understanding of written Spanish isn’t great. And is there any way to reserve a ferry ticket ahead of time or we just need to get in line and wait?

    Thanks so much! Your website and book have been invaluable in helping me plan our trip.


    1. Hi Eliza, We think that the ferry runs 365 days a year so you shouldn’t have a problem. I don’t think there’s a way to reserve in advance. The ferry will likely be very busy on Christmas Eve too since this is the busiest time of year here so get there early and be prepared to wait in line. Good luck!

  12. HI Jenn and Matt – trying to plan our trip with our son, wife and 2 kids ages 2 and 4. Our son is a Hilton employee so we are staying at the Doubletree for 4 nights and then Arenal and trying to flip a coin between Samara or Jaco. My husband and I have spent 3 extended time periods in CR – I did a TESOL certificate course in Samara and would love for them to see that area. Debating on taking the ferry from the Doubletree to get to Samara – have never done that. Then driving from Samara to La Fortuna. We have good friends in Paraiso and I love Orosi but know how long it can take to get through SJ so am conflicted about how best to plan. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Georgie, My vote would be for Samara over Jaco for beach time. It’s a better spot with little kids and more scenic. The Puntarenas ferry would be fun and very practical since you’ll be right there. Make sure to take the one that goes to Naranjo since it is farther north/closer. If you wanted to see your friends in Paraiso, we’d do that at the beginning or end of your trip, assuming you fly out of San Jose. That is a beautiful area, but you’re right that getting over to the eastern side of San Jose can be tricky with traffic.

  13. Hi we are planning a one night stopover in Montezuma on route from Quepos to Tamarindo. Where do you recommend staying?

  14. Hi! My husband and I will be traveling from Montezuma to Manuel Antonio, and realize that it will be a long drive. We were thinking of taking the 8 pm ferry with our rental car, and driving during the night to our hotel in Manuel Antonio. Do you think it is safe to take the 8 pm ferry? Google maps says the drive should take us about 5-6 hours. We were unsure if Google maps factored in the 70 minute ferry time or not. Do you know if the roads are paved on the way to Manuel Antonio? Any input would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Allie, We don’t recommend driving long distances after dark (we avoid it ourselves) because the roads are usually not well lit and many aren’t marked with lines and/or are curvy and mountainous. Many of these factors are true of the drive from Montezuma to the ferry in Paquera and then continuing on from Puntarenas to Manuel Antonio. You would be better off getting an early start the next morning.

  15. Considering driving and the ferry over flying to get to Montezuma this spring (those small planes scare me), but I tend to get sea sick. Is there much danger of this on the ferry?

  16. So glad I found your site! Thank you for the ferry information.
    I’m planning to hotfoot it back from Santa Teresa to San Jose via ferry in one day, using the ferry from Paquera. Good idea or not, and how much time should we budget? We don’t have a flight to catch or anything, just would like to get to San Jose before nightfall.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Keith, We’d plan on around 6 hours, including the time for the ferry. So as long as you leave in the morning, you’ll have no problem getting to San Jose before dark. We have done this trip before but from SJ to Montezuma and isn’t too bad. The ferry ride breaks it up nicely.

      1. Heya – it all worked out nicely! Though a bit close in timing, to be honest. We left Carmen Beach at 7:00 am and got to Paquera at about 8:15 am I think, but they started to load the ferry at 8:30 if I remember correctly.

        We learned to ignore our GPS and rely on Waze, and getting the SIM card from Kolbi was so worth it.

  17. Hello, amazing blog. So much good information. My husband and I are staying by Santa Teresa Beach and was looking to go down to Marino Ballena National Park. Was looking to get the ferry from Ferry Paquera to Punta Arenas. Is this the best way to go, I also can’t find a time table for the ferries going that direction
    Can find it coming back but not the direction we need. We are going in December of this year.
    Thanking in advance , any information would be great.
    Thankyou Katherine

    1. Hi Katherine, Yes, the ferry from Paquera to Puntarenas is your best option for getting to the Costa Ballena. The ferry company’s website has the departure times from Puntarenas and Paquera jumbled together so it’s confusing but it leaves Paquera at 5:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m.

  18. I love your blog,a lot of helpful information.
    We are going to tambor beach,coming from San Ramon, which ferry would have to take. Thank you..

  19. Hi

    How much is the Puntarenas ferry for a 4×4? Is it the same as for a standard vehicle?


  20. Hi Jenn and Matt – Love your blog! It saved us so much anxiety on our trip in February/March…and I’m sure you saved us time and money, too!

    We took the 11:00 ferry from Paquera to Puntarenas in mid-February and everything was exactly as you described. Easy process and no hassles. The crossing is quite pretty and the mood on our trip was festive. A couple of young fellows showing off some of the latest dance moves to an audience that clapped along with a few joining in.

    Puntarenas looks forgettable. We didn’t pause. Kept going to Jaco. We agreed this was a good call. We’re in our 50’s and felt a bit old for the Jaco scene but ended up having a super fun time.

    1. Hi Vickie, Glad that the process was smooth for you and that our blog was helpful with your planning. Sounds like you had a fun group on the ferry. We’ve never had any dancing on any trip we’ve ever taken 😉 Yes, Puntarenas doesn’t have a ton to offer visitors and Jaco can be a good time. Pura vida!

  21. Hi ! Jenn & Matt,
    I’m hoping you can help me with a few questions I have . This is my first time going to CR and there will be a group of 8 of us. Our first night we are staying at a one reserved in Montezuma. Our flights last minute we’re changed to arrive much later into San Jose airport like 4pm. By time we get our car rentals and drive to ferry do you think will still catch the last one leaving at 8pm? Also I hear it’s been raining ALOT consistently and the weather channel says it has no let up for weeks ahead . If we catch that ferry is it a easy drive despite being night time from paque to get into montezuma with all the rains ? Also , the next day we’re suppose to drive up to ostional for our next 3 nights but how can I be sure the rivers are passable ? I haven’t been able to find a way to know the current road conditions in those areas . Any suggestions, information is SO greatly appreciated ? Thanks so much in advance !

    1. Hi Athena, That’s a bummer that your flight got changed. If you’re not getting in until 4 pm, we don’t recommend trying to make it to the ferry that day. We don’t recommend driving long distances after dark, especially in places like the southern Nicoya Peninsula where the roads are rough dirt and not always in great shape. Considering your itinerary as a whole, it probably makes the most sense to just skip Montezuma since you had only one night planned there and stay overnight near San Jose on the first night. Then you can get an early start to Ostional the next day. We’ve heard that the river is not passable coming on Route 160 from Nosara to Ostional right now, but if you come from San Jose, I think you could take an inland road off Route 150 to access Ostional from the north (there are bridges if you’re coming from the north). We’re not totally sure of the best route this time of year, though, so you should ask your hotel/vacation rental in Ostional.

      For the weather, don’t worry about what the forecast says because it is not reliable (see our Weather post for details). You should still have some nice dry days since it’s early on in the rainy season.

  22. Hola, we are heading down to Costa Rica for our honeymoon next week. We will be up by Arenal for the first few days and then head to Florblanca Resort it looks like the drive out and down the Penninsula is quicker than taking the Ferry but hard to know for sure looking at the map. Can you advise if the ride will be easier and more pleasant taking the ferry? Also, is weather a factor to the decision – either conditions of the road or of the water? Gracias.

    1. Hi Jeff, Yes, it’s better to just drive. It’s faster plus taking the ferry wouldn’t save you the bad roads because most of the unpaved portion is after the ferry so you would have to go on it either way. Make sure to have a 4×4 vehicle for the trip this time of year. Have a great honeymoon!

  23. Hi Jenn & Matt! I have a question about renting a car in Puntarenas, after getting off the ferry, versus renting one in Paquera (where we will have been staying, at a small fishing lodge) and taking it across the ferry. We’ll be heading to Uvita and we’re going to try to pack lightly, but we’ll be spending 3 weeks in CR so will have some luggage.

    1. Hi Jill, It depends on where the car rental agency in Puntarenas is located I guess. If they’re close to where the ferry drops you off or they could deliver the car to you, then it would be easier to just wait and rent it in Puntarenas. But if getting the car in Puntarenas will be a pain, it’s probably worth it to just pay the extra money to bring the car across. The company that we work with and get a discount through, Adobe Rent a Car, has an office in Puntarenas at the DoubleTree Hotel. They will deliver cars for free as long as it’s not too far away so you could check with them about picking it up at the ferry dock. Here’s the link to our Rental Car Discount page.

      1. Thanks! We compared prices and decided that it made more sense to rent a car at SJO for the whole trip, since Adobe seemed to have the most car options at the airport, versus their other office locations. I truly can’t express how helpful your blog has been! Now we’re on to the packing planning and getting a bit nervous about the rain (we’ll be there in early November). Hopefully all goes as hoped and we get clear mornings with only rain in the afternoons!

        1. That’s great and makes a lot of sense about the car!

          The weather is usually mixed in early November with a good amount of sun so try not to worry. If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to check out our Packing post. That should help with those questions. Have a great trip!

    2. We took the ferry from Paquera today and would add a few tips. We stopped for lunch in Tambor on the way up from Montezuma and the owner of the restaurant was surprised when we said we didn’t have a reservation for the ferry. From reading this article I didn’t know it was possible to get one but if I was doing it again I would definitely book ahead. As it turned out we arrived about 4.30pm thinking we were queueing for the 5pm ferry but ended up waiting in line for 3 hours for the 8pm service without realizing. Also bring some change for the banos in the ticket office as foreigners were being charged 400 colones to use them.

      1. Hi James, Thanks for the info. We just updated this post to include information about getting tickets online. Sorry you had to wait for the next ferry but glad you were able to get on!

  24. Thank you so much for your blog, I found the information to be most helpful! We are planning a trip next week (July 20 – July 31) and will be coming from San Jose, traveling to Santa Teresa Mal Pais. Google maps says to take the Puntarenas to Naranjo ferry, but Bing maps says to take Puntarenas to Paquera. Looking at the map alone, it seems Paquera makes more sense, but wondering why Google doesn’t suggest it? What would you recommend? We will have a 4X4 and will be driving during the day. Appreciate your feedback.

    1. Hi Angie, I think you’re already here so we won’t bother answering your question but let us know if you need help with anything else. Otherwise, have a great trip!

  25. Hello,

    My 7 friends and I will be in Jaco in mid September. (fun friend and couples trip) We are planning on driving to the ferry and taking it over. We plan to stay the day and come back that night. My question is, where do you suggest we visit and/or explore.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Veronica, It’s tough to do the ferry as a day trip from Jaco. Travel time with the ferry and driving to somewhere on the Nicoya Peninsula like Montezuma is 4+ hours so it’s best to plan at least an overnight. Montezuma is a fun town to check out but it will be quiet in September with low season. You might be better off going somewhere like Manuel Antonio to the south.

    2. We arrived at Puntarenas at 9:20am yesterday to catch the 11am ferry to Paquera and the vehicle queue was already all the way down the road and well past the lighthouse. We had tried to reserve online the day before but there were no spaces available. Luckily we made it onto the 11am boat. Just a couple of things to be aware of. You need to get an orange ticket for your vehicle from one of the ferry employees BEFORE you go and stand in the queue for tickets. I didn’t realise this but luckily a helpful taxi driver explained to my husband who was waiting in the car and he very kindly came to find me in the queue to pass on the ticket. Also, the ticket office for the 11am ferry only opens at 10am and even before then there was a very long line. So arrive mega early!!!
      P.S.: Thank you so much for this website! It has been really helpful in planning our trip.

  26. Hi!

    Thank you for these info, they are very helpful 🙂

    I have one question, I have very bad seasickness. How is the ferry ride? I’m scared to get sick on the ferry 🙁

  27. Hi there, we are planning a trip in February. We will fly into San Jose and rent a car to come across on the ferry then stay in Montezuma. Do you have any estimate on how long that would take? Trying to figure out our flights and if we get in at 8am if we could make it to the 11am ferry? Any thoughts? Thanks so much for all your info!!

    1. Hi Kara, Expect it take about 1.5 hours to get through the airport and pick up the rental car. None of the rental car companies have offices at the airport so you’ll need to take a quick shuttle ridee. Then the drive from SJO to Puntarenas will be around 1.5 hours, depending on traffic. So you might be able to catch the 11 am ferry or just barely miss it. Good luck!

  28. Hi Jenn and Matt,
    Thanks so much for this excellent blog. My family is staying in Mal Pais and leaving on December 30th. We have a 1:30pm flight from San Jose. My question is will the ferry leaving Paquera at 9am give us enough time to get back to San Jose to catch our 1:30pm flight or should we take the 5am ferry. We will be returning a rental car at the airport.
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi John, You should plan to get to the airport 2 hours in advance of your flight, especially since you will be traveling during a busy time of year. So we’d definitely go with the 5 am ferry. Then you won’t be too rushed either.

  29. We will have a rental car, and just want to stay one night in Paquera. The place we are staying has day long tours so we don’t think we will need a car. Is there parking were we get on the Naviera Tambor ferry?

  30. Hi Jenn and Matt. Love your blog. We are arriving in San Jose on Sunday and plan to drive from San Jose to Santa Teresa on Monday morning. (leaving the car rental office at 10 am in San Jose)

    It has been recommended that we get reservations for the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera. I have not seen any mention of reservations in your blog. Can I do this from home? Is there website that I can use to do this?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Malcolm, We just checked the ferry website and it looks like you can buy tickets in advance now through Quick Pay CR. We aren’t familiar with this and we wouldn’t worry about advance tickets this time of year since it’s low season. In any event, you should double check with your hotel that the ferry will be running because there is a notice on their website about ferry service being suspended between Nov. 23 and Dec. 2 due to repairs on the Paquera side. An alternative is the Puntarenas-Naranjo ferry but you might be better off just driving the whole way.

  31. Hi Jenn and Matt!

    My husband, two daughters (age 6 months and 3 years), and myself want to visit Costa Rica this March for two weeks. Is it a crazy idea to travel to Mal Pais/Santa T area with two little kids? Do you think we need a car there? I’m guessing we would stay a night in San Jose and then travel to Mal Paid/Santa T early the next morning by car or by a hired service. Either way, what do suggest we do to getting to our final destination that is child friendly? I’m open to hearing other areas to stay that is family friendly as well. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Sara, Santa Teresa would be fine with younger kids. It has a chill, comfortable vibe. You don’t need a car there if you stay near the main area of town where restaurants and things are within walking distance. We’d suggest a private shuttle from San Jose so that you get there as fast as possible. If you’d like any help arranging a shuttle, feel free to contact us through our Shuttle Booking page. Also be sure to check out our Traveling with a Baby post if you haven’t already.

  32. We are going from Jaco to Samara by rental car, no 4 wheel drive. Would you suggest the ferry or drive the entire way. We would love to do the ferry but don’t know about the roads to Samara.

  33. Are there taxis at the Paquera ferry landing.

    We plan to walk on the ferry and catch a taxi to our hotel

  34. Hello. This article is very helpful, but I’m wondering if you can offer advice on getting from the ferry without a car and taking the bus to Montezuma? I may come on the 5:00 ferry. Also, do you know if the ferry dock is within walking distance of the main bus area in Puntarenas? Any help would be very appreciated, as I am traveling with an eleven year old on a strict budget and don’t want to get stranded. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Kerri, There’s a direct bus that goes from San Jose to Montezuma via the ferry. We did this years back, and I think the bus takes you to Puntarenas, then gets on the bus (you get off with your stuff), then you board it again on the other side in Paquera. You do have to change buses in a little town after, but they tell you where to wait. So I think it’s easiest to do it this way.

    1. Hi Jason, It has been a while since we have taken the public bus so aren’t sure. I think it used to leave from the Coca Cola bus station in downtown San Jose but it could have changed. There is a Facebook group called Costa Rica by Bus that you could check out.

  35. Hi!
    We’re planning on taking the ferry from Paquera to go back to San Jose and take our flight back home, the problem is that we’re leaving on January 1st and I can’t find the information on holiday hours on the ferry website.
    Does anyone know if the ferry has a special schedule on holidays ?

  36. Good afternoon! I am wondering if there is a safe place I could leave my rental car at the ferry location in puntarenas (we are going to an excursion with a place very close to the ferry dock in paquera), we really do not need to bring the car with us as we will be coming back the next day. If there is somewhere, should we pre register and price info would be great. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Michelle, I’m not sure. There is probably a guarded lot somewhere near the ferry dock but I don’t remember anything specific the last time we were there, which was recently.

  37. Hello Jenn and Matt, Thank you for your help and information. We are leaving Paquera on the 16th, and are unable to book a ticket online as it says there are none available. There is a 5:30am and a 9am, do you have any advice on how we can be sure to get on one of these ferries? If we arrive at 4:30am on Sunday the 16th, do you believe we will be able to get onto the ferry without trouble?

    1. Hi Franklin, They don’t sell all the tickets online so more are available to purchase directly at the ferry dock. I’m not sure of the exact amount but if you get there around 4:30 am, I would think you could get on the 5:30, and if not that, definitely the 9 am. Let us know how it turns out if you have a chance.

  38. Hi Matt and Jenn–We took the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera for the first time on 7 March, 2020. Being residents of CR, we drove to Puntarenas and chose not to get the tickets on-line. We did want to pass along our experience.

    If one is ferrying with a car, one needs an “orange ticket” from a ferry agent *before* they can buy the tickets (for car and passengers) at the booth in the blue building. To do this, you line up with your car as you describe alongside the road heading to the ferry itself. You wait with your car until the agent comes through handing out the plastic orange tickets (he’s there to count cars to ensure not too many tickets for cars are sold). Once he has handed you a ticket, then you go to the booth and give them the money. So, it’s a two-step process.

    The agent comes and goes. We got our orange ticket roughly 25-30 minutes prior to the ride itself. When you have your paper tickets from the booth, drive your car to the ferry entrance. Be careful not to inadvertently get back in the orange ticket line. Sometimes ferry agents will think you are lining up for the *next* ferry.

  39. Hi Matt! Love your blog. I’m traveling with my sister to Peninsula de Nicoya and are planning to take the Ferry as well. However, we’re constantly moving with our pack (doggies). Do you happen to know if animals are allowed within the trip? Thank you!

    1. Hi Mariana, Glad our blog has been helpful!

      We’ve heard from people who use the ferry regularly to get to and from Santa Teresa that pets are allowed as long as they’re leashed and there’s a special section on the boat for them. We think that someone has to stay with them during the trip. Not sure of all the details since we don’t have pets but you should be all set. Hope you and your sister have a great trip!

  40. Hello Matt and Jenn,
    Thank you for your blog. It is very informative and helpful in planning our vacation in CR. We are a family of 4, rented an SUV at the airport and plan to drive to Santa Teresa/Malpais in the midst of the peak Holiday season (12/20 t0 12/28). I was enable to book a ticket online: none available for our dates :(. We are planning to get on the 12:00 ferry to Paquera on Sun 12/20. What time do you think it would be an adequate time to get in line in Puntarenas to have a good chance to get on the 12:00 ferry in the high season. 10:30a? Thank you so much for your help.

    1. Hi Eric, From what we have heard, they only sell a certain number of tickets online and reserve the rest for purchase the day of. It usually isn’t getting too busy until right after Christmas so you should be okay on December 20th. We’d recommend getting there to get in line 2 hours before, or 10:00 am for the 12 pm ferry, just to be safe. Hope your family has a great trip!

  41. They now accept credit card at the counter.

    I’m curious what happens if you buy ticket online. Is there a QR code or something where you can show using your phone. I didn’t go this route because I’m worried it will require a printer which I don’t have access to while on travel.

    Thank you for sharing this information. It was really helpful!

    1. Thanks for the update on credit cards, Carla!

      We haven’t used the ferry since they changed to the online ticket system so aren’t sure if you get a QR code or just a regular confirmation. Maybe someone else can chime in with that specific information. If it’s just a regular confirmation, there are places right in downtown Puntarenas where you can easily get things printed. Look for a liberia.

  42. Hi –

    I’m considering taking the route around the gulf instead of the ferry. I’m driving on December 24th which seems to be a busy day and no tickets available online, which means I’ll have to get there 2 hours in advance from the sound of it, and I’d still be risking not getting a ticket in case if I get stuck in traffic to Punta Arenas. Google Maps tells me it’ll take only ~40 minutes more but based on the Route 21 (old route 160) it seems like it could be a little more. Do you have any thoughts on going this route?

    Thanks for this blog btw. Probably my lifeline for this trip!!

    1. Hi Dhru, We think it’s a fine plan to just drive around the peninsula instead of taking the ferry. We have done the drive several times, and it’s not bad. We have not been lately so aren’t sure of the current road conditions, but normally it’s a mix of paved and dirt road that is fine to travel during dry season. An hour or so seems to be accurate for how much time it would add to drive. We have more information on the conditions of Route 21/Route 160 in our Road Conditions post here. Definitely a good idea, though, so that you don’t sit around at the ferry and maybe not even be able to get on. We hope you have a wonderful visit to the Nicoya Peninsula!

  43. Hi! Your post really helped clarifying everything. We booked our ferry for tomorrow. Thank you!!
    Quick update- ferry hours have changed since the post. We are taking the ferry at 12:30pm.

  44. Hey hey! Any idea what the policy is for dogs on board the ferry? I have taken the ferry in the past, and have noticed that some Ticos left their pets in the car, and have never noticed pets above deck. I tried to find the information on the website, but it doesn’t seem to be mentioned. I emailed them, but curious if you have any knowledge first hand or have heard.

    1. Hi Nicole, We just did the ferry ride again and saw dogs in cars also. There was also one small one with its owners in one of the first seating areas. This wasn’t part of the main deck, but on the way up to it, sort of off on its own. We’re not sure of the official policy. If you find out, we’d love to hear so we can let people know in this post.

  45. We are heading to CR in a couple weeks. I was not able to buy tickets for the ferry online. Do you know what time the ticket booth opens in Puntarenas?

    1. Hi Kelly, We aren’t sure but would assume that since the first ferry leaves at 7 am, the ticket window would open by 6 or 6:30. You can just get your car lined when you get there and then jump out to get your tickets when you open. Good luck!

      1. Thank you! We got in line really early because we didn’t want to miss getting on the 7am ferry. The ticket counter opened around 6:15. When I got up to the counter, the lady told me that I needed a plastic ticket from one of the attendants in order to purchase a ticket for our vehicle and passengers. What we should have done was – wait in the left lane line until a ferry attendant came to our car (around 6:15), got the plastic ticket from the attendant, and then get the tickets at the booth. My husband was actually waiting at the ferry dock when I got tickets. When we left at 7:15, there were several cars lined up waiting to get on the ferry.

  46. Thank you very much for this useful information. How long did it take to get an e-mail after purchasing tickets online? I purchased tickets (both directions) on the website, but I haven’t received an e-mail for either purchase an hour after the purchase. I know I provided a valid e-mail address and that the purchases completed.

    1. Hi Von, When we purchased tickets a couple of months ago, we received the email almost right away. It was an email with a link to access the tickets. Maybe check your spam box. If not, hopefully you have the confirmation number from the final screen so you can ask them to resend. Good luck!

      1. I’ve checked spam several times. I also e-mailed them at the contact address on their website, with no response. I don’t have the confirmation number–I was expecting an e-mail, so didn’t leave that screen up. Our friends just had the same experience. I asked about this on the Costa Rica Travel FB group, and Jeff Goode responded that the e-mails sometimes take hours or never come; he and one other said we could just provide our names on arrival, and that we should show our credit card receipt. The website also has a WhatsApp contact number, but our carrier won’t send the text. Please consider updating your post accordingly, so others can at least be aware and grab a screenshot of the confirmation.

  47. You may want to add that if you purchase tickets at the ferry terminal and are taking a car. Get in line and look for the ferry rep who will give you a plastic ticket that must be given to the ticket agent before they will sell you a pass for your car. In my case I stood in line, reached the counter, then had to go back to get that ticket. By that point the ticket rep had found my partner in the car so my partner had the ticket. The lines were quick so it wasn’t a big inconvenience.

    1. Thanks Brenda! We will add this to our article. I think it was in there before but somehow got deleted when we updated it with info on buying tickets online.

  48. Hi I will be coming from a retreat that will drop me off at the Paquera Ferry and I need to go to Montezuma. I’m on a tight budget but also concerned with bringing 2 luggages on the bus. I heard about shuttle buses that can take you directly to your hotel. Are there shuttle buses at the ferry station?

    1. Hi Kathleen, We don’t know of any shuttles at the Paquera ferry. People do take shuttles but they don’t originate at the ferry dock (they come from another destination in CR so the shuttle includes the van ride and ride across the ferry). Maybe you could reach out to one of the shuttle companies here to work something out. The major company that does shared shuttles along this route is Interbus.

  49. Hi Jenn and Matt – this is so helpful! Do you know if the ferry departure times stay consistent year-round? We are going to be in Costa Rica in September, which I know is “green season” and wondering if they are less frequent, etc during that time. Thanks so much!

  50. If you buy ferry tickets online ahead of time, then you don’t need to show up early for the ferry, correct? Trying to plan our department time from our VRBO in Santa Teresa….Thanks!

    1. Hi Kate, Correct. If you already have your tickets, you don’t have to get there as early. We’d still be there no later than 45 minutes before departure so that you’re not loaded onto the boat last. You’ll see that lots of cars will already be lined up.

  51. Hi! I’m not sure if you answered this, but you said there is a bus? (I think) from San Jose that gets on the ferry at Puntarenas going to Paquera and goes to Santa Teresa? How do you buy the bus ticket?

    1. Hi Kristi, Yes, there is a bus from San Jose that will take you on the ferry and a little past Paquera. In that spot near Paquera, you will need to change to a local bus to continue on to Santa Teresa, but it’s easy to figure out. To get bus tickets, just show up to the bus station in San Jose about an hour in advance. This bus used to originate from the Coca-Cola station, but we would double check to make sure that hasn’t changed. This website has fairly accurate information about bus schedules.

  52. Hello! I have been looking to buy tickets for the ferry for our upcoming trip in late August- currently it has been showing no available or any times on any date, do you believe that is correct? Any suggestions on what we could try to do ?

    Thank you so much! So happy I stumbled to your blog it Has been do helpful!

    1. Hi Serena, That is strange. We just tested it (the quickpaycr website) for a couple of dates in mid and late August and didn’t have any problems. We would try using a different browser. Sometimes websites in Costa Rica don’t work using some browsers. Hope that makes a difference and you can figure it out.

  53. Hi – We love your website and have used it for many of our Costa Rican travels. I would agree with Brenda (blog post 51.) that now, as of July 9, 2021, at least, that there is another part to the process if you are taking a car over. First, if you have not purchased tickets ahead of time online, you need to get in line with your car and wait. Second, the employee who is counting the cars and walking amongst the cars will give you a yellow square card. Once you have that yellow square card, you leave your car (or your passenger, if able) and take that card to the ticket window to purchase a ticket for your car and number of passengers in that car. The ticket office will not sell you tickets until you give them your yellow card. It’s a way to account for all of the space on the ferry. Once you have that purchased, then you go back to your car and wait, then the employees counting the cars will eventually come over and check that you have purchased your tickets, etc., then waive you forward to get ready to load your car. That whole receiving-a-yellow-card-before-you-go-to-get-tickets was really unclear, the ticket counter person that day didn’t speak English well and was not really into making it clear, which I understand, and I know a little Spanish, and there was no little notice posted in English about that process. Finally an English speaker in line told us what we needed to do, which saved us and helped us be able to take the ferry. Having an updated post (above, included in the article about taking the ferry with this process) will help others in the future. 🙂

  54. Hey! I can see you have been providing a very useful advises here, so will try with my question too 🙂 Travelling from Quepos to Guanacaste (Braisilito, Coco, Liberia; whatever works). We would like to head first to Puntarenas and take the ferry to Naranjo. I cannot find any information on how to get from Naranjo to Guanacaste. Would you know if this is an option (or it is easier to just take a bus from Quepos to Liberia via Punatrenas)? Obviously, the first option sounds much fun. Thanks!

    1. Hi Monika, If you’re going to Guanacaste, it’s faster to drive instead of taking the ferry. So if you’re taking the bus, yes, take it from Quepos to Puntarenas and then on to Guanacaste.

  55. Hey! Thanks for the amazing website and advice. I am currently trying to book our ferry tickets for Dec. 24. the dates on the calendar are red, does this mean the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera is not running on this date?

    Last question: If we can’t but tickets in advance when should we arrive to the terminal gates with our rental car? It’ll be me and my family (6 people total). We’ve never been to Costa Rica before and trying to plan as much as we can for this travel day to our AirBnb.

    1. Hi Jordan, That means that tickets are sold out online. Around Christmas is a really busy time. Just because they’re sold out online doesn’t mean they don’t still have space, though. They save many tickets for purchase the day of. People usually recommend arriving a couple of hours in advance to make sure you get tickets in this case. If you’d rather not do that, you could also just drive around the peninsula. The roads are all very good now.

  56. Hello folks–Thanks for the all useful information, it really helped with my trip planning. I had a slightly different ferry ticketing experience with my rental car last week. I was able to book my ticket online and used “Rental Car” in the license plate section. However, when I arrived at the dock, they wrote my license plate number on a small scrap of paper, and had me take that to the ticket office. The person there looked through their pile of receipts for that trip (quite large) to find mine, wrote the LP number on it, stamped it and gave it to me. I then had to give that version to the person collecting ‘tickets’ (really tiny print-outs of your pre-booking) as your drove onto the ferry. There was no yellow card mentioned in one of the earlier comments.

  57. Hi Jenn and Matt, super informative website – got me to buy your guide right away. Planning our first trip to CR for end of Jan and your tips so far were super helpful. Just a quick note on this one: the Ferry schedule / times seem to have slightly changed (from the linked schedule, i figure as of nov 2022). No problem as it is always reasonable to check the schedule again, but just in case you want to update the times listed on your page…

  58. Our family has traveled to Costa Rica twice. Both times we landed in Liberia around 1:30 pm, took rental car directly to la fortuna , spent 4 nights there, drove to Manuel Antonio, spent 4 nights there and then got up early on our last day and left Manuel Antonio at 7 am to catch 3 pm flight in Liberia
    We are hoping to visit again in early January next year but with different itinerary. I would again like to spend a couple of days in rainforest/jungle before heading to the beach. Our teen boys tried surfing for the first time this year and they would like to go somewhere that is good for beginner surfers. I am thinking either Liberia to bijagua to Santa Teresa or Liberia to Monteverde to Santa Teresa. Would Monteverde mean a lot less driving? How far is the drive to Santa Teresa after we depart from the ferry? Will it be possible to make it back to Liberia for a flight from Santa Teresa if we leave early? Other itinerary suggestions?
    We are flying from Msp and in the past have had better direct flights to LIR than to San José. Thank you!

    1. Hi Pam, The drive to Bijagua is easier than to Monteverde. Both are really nice, though, it just depends on what you’re looking for. Bijagua is a much smaller town.

      We’d recommend Samara for beginner surfing over Santa Teresa. It’s has beginner-friendly waves and the town is more family friendly. It’s much easier to get to than Santa Teresa too. You wouldn’t need to take the ferry and LIR Airport is only a couple of hours away. Hope your family has another great visit next year!

  59. Just tried this ferry two days ago. Couldn’t book ahead online, not working and thought to try anyway.
    Bottom line don’t use this if driving a car. Drive around. Faster and beautiful drive on the nicoya side.
    Here’s why
    We arriveat 10.30 for a12 o’clock ferry.
    Place is utter chaos, staff are unhelpful, and rude.
    Don’t follow the directions in this site and drive into the parking area as they suggest. I did this, parked and spent 30 minutes in the ticket line. Then told my car is in the wrong place…apparently the line is on the road and someone had to give me a plastic ticket in order to buy a ticket. Went out parked on the road at the end of the apparent line…far from the entrance. Kept asking four this plastic ticket from what seemed to be the employees. Got no response. A local ahead of us in line said he was told this was northerners for the three o’clock ferry…..it was now about 11.30.
    We left and drove around.
    So, don’t try it ismy reco. Plus the staff are about as useless and rude as they can possibly be. It’s shockingly disorganized and unclear
    Given they do this multiple times a day it’s hard to believe they are so disorganized. No signage, no clear line to wait in and horrible.
    If itsa private enterprise..don’t give them your money. If its government run well….
    We know Costa Rica is what it is as we have a place here…this was our worst experience.

    1. Hi Mark, That does sound like a bad experience. It is a chaotic place which is why we have written this post. We have always been helped by the staff and even strangers around the ferry dock, so it is strange they were rude. As we say above, the line starts near that sign (in front of the dock) and usually stretches out onto the street. We once parked in the wrong spot and immediately were told to move. The point about the plastic ticket is a good one. Someone else mentioned this in the comments. If you do not have an online ticket for your car, you will need to first get a plastic ticket from the employee walking up and down the line of cars, then take that to the ticket booth so you can purchase an official ticket. This is their system for ensuring there is space for all the cars. We just updated the post with this tip. My guess is that they were already full at that point and that is why they wouldn’t give you a plastic ticket. Sorry for your unfortunate experience but glad you made it to your destination.

  60. Hi Jenn and Matt, I have a couple of questions that I hope you can answer. I’m flying into Liberia and then plan to be in Samara for 4 nights. I’ve been to Samara a few times and absolutely love it. After that I was thinking of going to Uvita for 6 nights as I’ve never been that south. I have reserved a 4×4 and from the comments it sounds like I’m best to drive to Uvita rather than taking the ferry to Puntarenas. Is that correct? Is it safe for a woman to drive that distance alone? Is it safe to stay in a Uvita in a cabin alone and what about walking to restaurants for dinner (in the dark)? Would it be safer to explore the southern area of the Nicoya Peninsula? My previous impressions of Samara were that it was safe. Do I need to be worried about walking to dinner there after dark? Thanks!

    1. Hi Laurie, Yes, it would be best to drive to get from Samara to Uvita rather than taking the ferry.

      Uvita is fairly safe but we have heard of muggings occasionally. You could always have the restaurant call you a taxi to get back to your hotel after dinner if you were nervous.

  61. Hi there
    I’m travelling from Montezuma to Santa Barbara de Heredia and debating between taking the ferry /private transport option and flying Green Airways. But the airline is zero refund event if they cancel the flight and I am worried also that they may leave my luggage behind if the plane is too heavy. Any thoughts? Thanks

  62. We’ve booked the puntarenas to naranjo ferry as I hadn’t realised that you could take a car on the paquera route. Is it significantly longer to get to montezuma? Just wondering if it’s worth trying to change tickets or re buy. Thanks.

      1. We’ve been and came back, it was brilliant! The other ferry is apparently a longer journey at sea & loading & unloading so I think it’s fairly evenly balanced. The roads were easy too. Thank you for all of your help.

  63. Such a wonderful blog. Thank you. Our concern, which we have not see addressed anywhere, is: If we buy our ferry ticket from the online ticket website, and are late getting to the ferry, such that we “miss” it, what happens then? Do they put us on the next ferry (3 hours later), Do they say, “Too bad.”, and we lose our money. Or what? Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Chester, We’re not sure what would happen if you miss the ferry. It could go either way. We would just be sure to leave early enough so that doesn’t happen. It’s definitely a good idea to pre-buy the tickets to guarantee a spot so you’re not waiting around.

  64. Hi there great information, we are coming back on Dec 31 this year, cannot seem to book a ticket back from Nicoya. Are they closed for the New Year? Thanks again for all the great info…..Neil and Jakki..

    1. Hi Neil and Jakki, The ferry does operate on New Year’s Eve. It may be that online tickets are already sold out. They only sell a certain amount online and the rest need to be purchased day of at the ferry terminal. If you could change your departure date, that would be easiest. Otherwise, just plan on showing up at the ferry terminal at least an hour early.

  65. Hi Jenn and Matt, super helpful information I am just missing the links to the bus companies that will get one to the Puntarenas ferry. Could you advise which bus company takes you all the way to Santa Teresa> I am currently looking at 1. Bus from San Jose to Puntarenas 2. Ferry Puntarenas to Paquera 3. Taxi Paquera Santa Teresa. But it would be so much easier if it was all one. Thanks so much for your help, Carolin

    1. Hi Carolin, There used to be a direct bus that went from San Jose all the way to Montezuma at least. The bus came across on the ferry and you did have to change buses at some point after the ferry but that was the only connection. It has been many years since we took it so things could have changed, though. A good website for current bus schedules is: https://thebusschedule.com/cr/

  66. Hi guys! You’ve done amazing work on this site!!
    I’m trying to book us on the puntarenas ferry via the Quickpay site but once I’ve entered all the information and proceed to “Invoice data” box, I have to input legal document, DIMEX or physical ID and a document #. It does not accept letters, only numerals… do you know how to proceed to pay and get the invoice or how documentation is needed to get to the payment?

    Thanks so much!!

  67. Hubby & I are taking ferry from Puntaneras to Paquera and the going to Curu for 2 days. Are there taxis available at the ferry landing? Thanks!

  68. Hi Jenn and Matt, we will be in Costa Rica in April and want to drive from Samara to Santa Teresa Beach and then from Santa Teresa to get the ferry in Paquera. Just wanted to get an idea of what the roads are like? do we need a 4×4?
    Greatly appreciate all the information!

    1. Hi Ben, As long as you go the main route from Samara via Nicoya and Paquera, all the roads are now paved and you don’t need a 4×4. There are some side roads around Santa Theresa that are still dirt and a 4×4 is a good idea. Just make sure your accommodations aren’t on one of those roads.

      1. Hi Jenn and Matt! Thank you for all of the information your blog is the best! We will be in CR birthing very soon and are staying in tamarindo and then down to Marbella area just above nosara. Thinking of taking the ferry across to stay near Uvita or San insidro for a few days…do you think driving down from Marbella to stay one night in Montezuma or Paquera and crossing on the ferry is a better idea instead of making the six hour drive around?

        How are the roads in this area? I have never traveled south of nosara but I know tamarindo to nosara the roads are horrible. I am
        A bit concerned south of nosara might be worse? I’d LOVE your input! Normally I wouldn’t mind the costs rican roads but being pregnant makes all the difference. Please let me know if you’d make the trip south and take the ferry across or if you’d drive. Much gratitude for you!

        1. Hi Lindsey, We would just drive the whole way. Taking the ferry will add time. Just keep in mind that they are going to be closing La Amistad Bridge on Highway 18 starting on April 1. So after that time, you would need to take the ferry.

          All the roads are good until you get to Uvita. In Uvita, there are some side roads up in the mountains that are still rough dirt (4 wheel drive is best) but most are fine. Hope that helps!

  69. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    Thank you for the super helpful blog post.

    What would be the best way to get from Paquera to Santa Teresa?

    1. Hi Dennis, Taking a taxi is the easiest (they are always there waiting at the ferry dock) or your hotel or Airbnb in Santa Teresa may be able to set you up with a driver so that it is planned in advance.

  70. Just an FYI that I tried to take the ferry from Paquera on a Friday at noon (March 23), arrived 30 min early, and couldn’t get on. 20 cars in a similar situation.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Add Trees to Your Order