Getting in and out of Santa Teresa/Mal Pais by local bus is always a mission. The road to and from is dusty and just when you think it should be easy to get somewhere close by, it’s not. The local bus schedule can change often, but for travellers coming from and going to San José the bus times don’t change much since they are timed with the ferry. To get on the bus in Santa Teresa you only need to head to the main road, stand there with your stuff and wave as it approaches.
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Direct bus from San José to Santa Teresa
The direct bus from San José leaves from the Terminal 7-10. This bus takes about 6hrs and leaves San José at 6am and 2pm. As of July 2017 the cost is 7320₡, which includes the cost of your ferry ticket of about 800₡.
Surfers, you will pay an extra 2000₡ for your surfboard.
If you are near the Airport you don’t have to head all the way to the 7-10 Terminal. Instead, have a taxi take you to the Villa Bonita Bridge in Alajuela. The bus to Santa Teresa/Mal Pais/Montezuma passes this spot about 6:20am and 2:20pm – or basically however long it takes to get there after leaving downtown so this time could be a bit longer. Have a look a the Villa Bonita page to see what this spot looks like and more info on how to get there.
Direct bus from Santa Teresa to San José
When leaving Santa Teresa/Mal Pais you wait on the side of the road for the bus. Any spot along the main road is fine. In the mornings (6am) the Direct bus leaves from Santa Teresa but in the afternoon (2pm) it leaves from Montezuma so you will have to take the local bus to Cóbano to connect with it.
If you are leaving on the afternoon bus you will have to pay 1000 to get to Cóbano first and then charged the full 7320₡ ticket price to San José. **This is a grand total, with surfboard fee of 2000 of 10320₡!! (June 2017) From there everyone heading to San José gets on the same bus in Cóbano at 3pm to go to the ferry.
We have a photo of the schedule below (May 2017), but here it is in writing:
Transportes Cóbano Schedule:
- Santa Teresa/Mal Pais to San José: 6am ( there is a 2:30pm bus – but it leaves from Montezuma so you need to go to Cóbano to get it, extra 1000₡)
- San José to Santa Teresa/Mal Pais: 6am and 2pm
Cheaper option with non-direct bus:
Local Buses from Santa Teresa to San José
As I mentioned, if you are leaving Santa Teresa in the afternoon and you have a surfboard your total cost to San José is 10320₡! (1000₡ from ST to Cóbano, 2000₡ for surfboard, 7320₡ for ticket). This trip is a lot cheaper if you piece the trip together with non-direct buses.
Take the local bus to Cóbano. Bus takes about 30-40mins and costs 1000₡. It will pass around 6am and 2pm. When you arrive there will be a bus going to Paquera at 7am and 3pm (to connect with the 9am and 5pm ferry) which costs ~1800₡. Buy your ferry ticket, get on and cross, 810₡. Then make your way to the Puntarenas bus terminal (1500₡ taxi) and buy your ticket to San José with Transportes Unidos for 2585₡. Check the Puntarenas page for more info on schedules. All of the indirecto buses from Puntarenas to San José bus pass the airport on the way. That’s 6195₡ plus the taxi, which you could share.
Local Buses from San José to Santa Teresa
Basically the same as above but in reverse! When I got to the Paquera side a person claiming to work for Transportes Cóbano approached me and offered to sell me a ticket on the Direct bus for the special low price of 5000₡! This is not a low price. The price of the ticket all the way from San José is 6210₡ + ferry. This is almost double the cost of taking the local bus from Paquera (1800+1000₡).
Puntarenas to Santa Teresa
If you are arriving at the bus station in Puntarenas you need to get to the ferry to Paquera. The bus station in Puntarenas is about 15 blocks from the Ferry and it is worth the 1500₡ taxi to get there, have a look at the map below
Once you get off the ferry in Paquera there will be a bus waiting for you to take you to Cóbano. This trip takes about a 1.5hr and will cost ~ 1800₡. If you end up catching the bus coming from San José you may stay on that bus or switch. You’ll find out when you get there. Unfortunately there is usually a small wait in Cóbano for that connecting bus if you have to change. The rest of the trip form Cobanó to Santa Teresa takes about 40minutes and costs 1000₡.
Santa Teresa to Nosara (or Samara)
Check out our Route that explains how to do this journey. Santa Teresa to Nosara (or Samara)
Santa Teresa to Manuel Antonio
Get yourself to Puntarenas using the instructions above. In Puntarenas you need to get the bus to Quepos. Have a look at the Puntarenas or Quepos page for this schedule. Buses leave often. Once you are in Quepos it is a very short bus trip to Manuel Antonio.
Santa Teresa to San Juan del Sur
Check out our Route that explains how to do this journey. Santa Teresa to San Juan del Sur.
Santa Teresa to Monteverde
Check out our Route that explains how to do this journey. Santa Teresa to Monteverde
Santa Teresa to Montezuma
Check out our Route that explains how to do this journey. Santa Teresa to Montezuma
Santa Teresa -> Montezuma: ~1350₡ (via Cóbano ~1000₡+ 350₡), between 2-3hrs depending on connection in Cóbano. 2016 prices.
Cóbano Local Bus Schedule (2017)
- Cóbano to Santa Teresa/Mal Pais: 06:50am, 10:30am, 11:30am*, 2:30pm, 5pm:00, 7:30pm*
- Santa Teresa/Mal Pais to Cóbano: 5:50am, 06:00am*, 7:55am, 11:55am, 2:00pm*, 4:00pm
* connection with the direct bus to/from San José
*be on time. This bus starts from the far end of Santa Teresa and may take 5-20+minutes to reach you depending on where you are standing.
1000₡, 45 minutes
- Cóbano to Montezuma: 5:30am, 7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:50pm, 7:45pm
- Montezuma to Cóbano: 6:20am, 8am, 10am, 12pm, 2:20pm, 4:15pm, 5:45pm, 8pm
400₡, 25 minutes *see photo of schedule below
- Paquera to Cobano: 6:15am, 8:15am, 10:30am, 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:15pm, 6:15pm
- Cobano to Paquera:4am, 6:45am, 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:45pm, 4:30pm
1800₡, 1.5hrs *see photo of schedule below
Puntarenas to Paquera
- 05:00, 09:00, 11:00, 14:00, 17:00, 20:30*
(*no connecting bus heading all the way to Santa Teresa/Mal Pais or Montezuma)
Paquera to Puntarenas
- 05:30, 09:00, 11:00, 14:00, 17:00, 20:00
***here is an extremely useful number = call tel: 26612084 (then press 4) and you can get the current ferry schedule.
We are told it is possible to take a bicycle with you. Both wheels need to be off and it costs 3000₡ (Jan 2018).
Help your fellow traveller
If you have taken any of the buses on this page, please drop us a comment below about how the trip went, what time you left, how long it took and what it cost. And, definitely let us know if we have anything wrong.
Lets help each other in our travels!