Santa Teresa / Mal Pais

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.


During the busy season seats can fill up fast. Avoid the stress and BOOK YOUR TICKET IN ADVANCE with this awesome new service from La Terminal.


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!



Help us fill in any missing information
Let us know if we have something wrong
Share your knowledge in a comment below


Almost everything updated May 2017. We do not 100% guarantee that all schedules, times and prices are exact. The information in this website is based on personal experience. Information has been gathered from station schedules, station managers, bus drivers and driver helpers. We have done our best to get as much accurate up to date information as possible, but prices and times change. Also, remember that you are responsible for your own health and safety. Travel safe and travel smart - and have fun!



The direct bus to San Jose (now leaving from Montezuma so you need to go to Cóbano by local bus to get on)

The local bus which takes you to back and forth to/from Cóbano.

Last stop before the bus heads out of town. The plaza in front of Playa Carmen

Transportes Cobanó bus to and from San José
Photo from the 7-10 Station

Photo taken May 2017

Schedule for buses going between:
Cóbano and Montezuma
Cóbano and the Ferry
Photo from the Transportes Cóbano office
Photo: June 2017


27 travel tips for Santa Teresa / Mal Pais - share your tips below!

  1. Rodrigo

    Thank you for the info,
    I arrive at 16:00 hrs to San Jose airport, and my destination is Zeneida garden en Santa Teresa, what do you recommend me to do??

  2. Nicholas Riendeau

    Hi, I just reserve 4 places on a bus from santa teresa to san jose. But in the email, it doesn’t say where we are taking the bus. Is there any precise location to go to take the bus in santa teresa? Because our Airbnb is on the main road in santa teresa, so do we just wait on the side of the road?

    • centrocoasting

      Hi Nicholas, yes you will just wait on the side of the road for the bus to pass. Santa Teresa is just one long road and the bus starts at one end and picks up everyone waiting that waves for the bus to stop along the way.

  3. Hiske

    I am taking the direct bus from santa teresa to San Jose tomorrow. I will be staying in a hotel in alajuela (casa maki), is it possible to get out of the bus in alajuela somewhere where I can grab a taxi? (Traveling alone, I’d rather not go walking)

  4. Kia


    Im a little confused about the price. You’re all saying that its so expensive, but when I convert the 7320C into Euros, its about 10 euros? Sounds pretty cheap to me!!
    Im I wrong with the conversion? Thanks!

    • centrocoasting

      Yes that is correct. Or about $16CAD or about $13USD. I am glad for you that you don’t find it cheap, not all shoestring budget backpackers do.

  5. Jennifer Smith

    Do you know how far up Santa Teresa the bus will go? I’m staying up between Playa Cocal and Playa Hermosa.

    • centrocoasting

      Hi Jennifer! Sorry for the slow reply. The bus won’t got that far. It only goes to the end of Santa Teresa. In the past, only as far as the french bakery but it my be a bit further now. You’ll have to arrange a taxi or a pickup to get to your final destination.

  6. Maciej

    Just a piece of advice – if you have a bicycle, you can take it on the bus, but with both wheels taken off. The charge was CRC 3,000 (January 2018) from SJO to Montezuma. All the other info above is 100% correct. Thanks 🙂

    • centrocoasting

      Thanks, Maciej! This is helpful and I will include it somewhere above.

  7. Roman

    Hi – do you know?? how can i Book the 6:00 AM Bus ?? only shows 2:00PM

    • centrocoasting

      Hi Roman, I am not sure why their site isn’t showing the 6am bus. I would email them or send them a FB message. They are very responsive to questions.

  8. Johan

    Great info, do you know if there would be any issue bringing a longboard 9′ 3″
    on the bus?

    • centrocoasting

      Hey Johan! I honestly don’t know if I have every seen anyone bring a longboard on the bus. The undercarriage of the bus is generally in a few compartments and boards usually get put in cross-wise and the compartment seems to be about 7ft in depth. Perhaps if the board went above luggage on an angle it would fit, but I really don’t know for sure. Costa Rica bus companies love finding ways to charge you extra for surfboards, so if it does fit, I would bet they would try to charge you double surfboard fee! I would recommend calling Transportes Cobano. This is the company that goes all the way from San Jose to Santa Teresa. There are a few numbers for their office on the photo above. Let us know how it goes!

  9. Thomas

    First of all, great website, great effort.

    We did take all the way down from San juan del Sur (Nicaragua) to Santa Teresa yesterday in one day.
    All of the information provided by you seemed to be correct, but there was a problem.
    The ferry to Paquera is not running (
    And there was a 12:30 p.m. ferry to Playa Naranjo (which is not in official schedule but maybe as replacement for Paquera ferry).
    And then three buses Naranjo -> Paquera (village) -> Cobano -> Santa Teresa.
    We arrived in Santa Teresa with the 5 p.m. bus from Cobano.

    I found no information how long Paquera is not running and what this will mean for the direct bus from Santa Teresa to San Jose and reverse.
    But maybe you can get more information on that.

    Thanks and best regards


    • Thomas

      I just found additional information on the Transport Cobano Facebook page
      As jou can see, schedule changed a little bit for the buses to San Jose

      Cheers Thomas

      • centrocoasting

        Thanks, Thomas! I have all of the corresponding pages updated with an alert about the ferry. I am glad it all still worked out for you. Enjoy your travels, the beaches of Santa Teresa are my favourite! Thanks for the nice words about the website and for helping your fellow travellers!

    • Phil

      The paquera ferry is up and running again. We took it the other day (24 sep 2017)

      • centrocoasting

        Thanks, Phil!

  10. Anni

    This week (last week of July 2017) we took the direct bus from Santa Teresa to San José and just wanted to send a price update.
    We got in front of our hostel at Playa Carmen at around 6:30 am. Make sure to tell the bus driver where you get off (San José airport or Terminal). The price of the ticket was ₡7320 (including the ferry ticket).
    Once in Paquera, you get off the bus, get your ferry ticket from the bus driver and your luggage will remain checked in at the bottom of the bus while you go on the ferry. In Puntarenas, get off the ferry with all other passengers, look for your bus and board the bus again.

    • centrocoasting

      Thank you for the price update, Anni! That bus sure is getting expensive.

  11. Tenglai

    Hi, do you know where is the drop off point in Santa Theresa? I actually need to go near Playa Carmen, and I wonder if the bus will stop along this area?

    • centrocoasting

      Hi Tenglai, the bus comes from Cobanó and basically ends up at Playa Carmen. If you zoom in on the map on this page you will see the road coming form Cobanó. There is also a road that parallels the ocean. When the bus arrives from Cobanó it will stop at the intersection of these two roads and you can get out here. The bus then continues along the road and people get off all along the road. The bus continues on to Santa Teresa. Which hostel are you staying at?

  12. Thomas Smathers

    What a great resource for traveling in and out of the area, since their are so many different schedules and change overs. Nice work look forward to seeing this site evolve.

    • centrocoasting

      Thanks, Thomas! Be sure to check back next time you are in/out of ST. This can be a particularly confusing area to come and go from, so please let us know if something changes and we don’t have it updated here yet. Your fellow travellers will thank you! Pura Vida.

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