Santa Teresa / Mal Pais

** October 26th, 2018: There has been a temporary change in Ferry hours and the bus from San Jose to Santa Teresa/Montezuma now departs at 7:30am and 3:30pm. 

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.

 

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 7545₡ (June 2018), which includes the cost of your ferry ticket of about 800₡. If you are a senior, ask for the seniors price!

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 7545₡ (June 2018) ticket price to San José.If you are a senior, ask for the seniors price!  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

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

  • Cóbano to Santa Teresa/Mal Pais: 6:50am, 10:40am, 11:50am*, 2:40pm, 5:00pm, 7:40pm* (time table from info center in St. Teresa, June 2018)
  • Santa Teresa/Mal Pais to Cóbano: 3:00am, 6:00am*, 8:00am, 10:00am, 12:00am, 2:00pm*, 4:00pm, 6:00pm, 8:00pm (time table from the local restaurant owner in St. Teresa, June 2018)

* 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

 

Ferry

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.

 

Bicycles

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!

 

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FINE PRINT

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!

CONNECTING STATIONS

PHOTOS TO SHOW YOU THE WAY

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

HIGH FIVES

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

  1. Anita

    First off, thanks for the super useful website!! Do you know how long this temporary change in bus schedules is?

    • AJ

      Check the Transportes Cobano Facebook page to see if they have posted an update on the timetable.

      • Kami

        Thank you!! This is very helpful! I tried to book a ticket online on transportés cobanos site, but they are only giving me the 2PM option from villa Bonita to Santa Teresa.. I have contacted them, but wondering if this is expected. I would like to leave early in the morning on Sunday nov. 18th.

        If not online, how can I buy a ticket without going to San Jose.. is there a place in Alajuela?

        Muchas gracias 😉

        • AJ

          Hey! 7:30am and 3:30pm are the current times as far as I know. This is the time the bus leaves the 7-10 station so it takes a bit to get to Villa Bonita. If you want to go in the morning then I’d stay out in Alajuela and get a taxi to villa bonita in the morning and wave the bus down as it passes. This works 95% of the time! You can also go the the Facebook page called Costa Rica by Bus and see if anyone has a recent update. Also check the Villa Bonita page on this website to see what that stop looks like and more info 🙂 https://centrocoasting.com/costarica/villa-bonita-station/

  2. Morgan O'SHEA

    Some information for any seniors (over 65 years old) travelling the Santa Teresa to San Jose route or vice versa. Today (23 Aug 18) we caught the 6am bus from Santa Teresa. It picked us up along the road. A helper on a motor bike accompanies the bus and helps load packs and gives luggage tags each time the bus stops.
    We asked the driver for ADULTO MAYOR (seniors) tickets and they cost 5050 Colones each for the trip. At the ferry the bus driver asked for our passports and took them to the ticket office when he got everyone’s ferry tickets. The ferry is free for seniors! Lots of other public transport is cheaper or even free in Costa Rica apparently but you must have ID with proof of age. Thanks for all the great info on these pages.

    • centrocoasting

      Thank you, Morgan!

  3. Chase Brock

    We just took the Alajuela to Santa Teresa route by bus/ferry (for our 3rd trip here). Pretty easy experience. Tip! Use the orange taxi’s or uber in Alajuela or San Jose, we had a negative experience with one of the red taxi’s. We were then warned by locals to avoid the reds whenever possible. We were also told that uber will be the best price. Leaving Santa Teresa in the afternoon is annoying as now you have to take the local bus to cobano, then switch to the transportes cobano bus to Alajuela/San Jose. The local bus will literally pick you up almost anywhere in Santa Teresa, If you want a seat, walk north away from Playa Carmen. The local bus is standing room only by the time it gets to Super Rony’s in Playa Carmen.

    • centrocoasting

      Thanks, Chase. I agree that the bus switch is a bit annoying. Especially if you have to pay the local bus to get to Cobano and then buy your fill price ticket.

  4. Kurse

    Hola! Can someone tell me what time the 6am direct bus from Santa Teresa to San Jose arrives at the airport? I have a 1340p flight and don’t know if I should plan on leaving the area the day before or arranging another mode of transport?

    • centrocoasting

      Hi! I don’t think you’ll have enough time to get your flight. The bus catches the 9am ferry in Paquera – which doesn’t get you to Puntarenas until 10:30. So, likely departing around 11 for the city. Then its at least another 1.5hrs after that. You’d get to the airport before your flight, but not likely 2hrs before so you can check in. I would leave on the 2pm bus and stay at Maleku backpackers.

      • Elizabeth Young

        Hi! What if your flight is at 2:30pm? Will the 6am from Santa Teresa get you there on time?
        Also can you pre-buy tickets online?
        Thanks.

        • centrocoasting

          Id say this is a tight connection to make. You will get to the airport before this time but not sure if enough advance time for international flight. You’d maybe arrive at 1-1:30… but you never know. Id stay in Alajuela the night before to be sure.

  5. Céline

    Hi! Many-many-many thanks for this website! It is my bible to plan our trips from one city to another.
    I am trying to figure out how to make the connexion between Santa Teresa and Jaco?
    I assume we will spend the whole day jumping from one bus to another.. Has anyone ever done this journey? Could you please share your tips/best timing connexions?
    Thanks again and you can count on me to share my tips when we’ll be back at end of August!

    • centrocoasting

      Hi Celine, sorry for the slow reply! There are many boats that go from Montezuma to Jaco each day, though I am late answering your questions so I am sure you already figure it out! The boat is more expensive than the bus but with the bus you need to go all the way back via the ferry and it takes quite a long time. But if you do it this way, you go back to Puntarenas and then grab one of the many buses heading to Jaco from there. We look forward to getting your travel tips in August!!

  6. Annelien

    A few days ago we went from
    Samara to Santa Teresa. It was more easy than we thought it would be.
    We had the bus at 08.00 to Nicoya, and then straight away at 09.00 the bus to Playa Naranja (one of the ferry stops). There where taxi’s to take you to Paquera for 15000c (we were with the 3 of us so that makes it quite cheap and worth to take this route instead of going via Liberia: the taxi ride it is also very pretty!). At Paquera, our driver dropped us of in front of a (good) bakery, where the bus would stop to take us to Montezuma (we only had to wait 20 min). In Montezuma the bus to Santa Teresa was already there, and left 40 min later. Our busdriver stopped at the hostels everyone was staying at, so overall an oké journey! We arrived at 16.00 and the total cost per person was not even 10.000c (18 dollar, instead of 50 dollar for a shuttle).

    • centrocoasting

      Thank you, Annelien!

  7. Jelena Savic

    Hi!

    I am travelling next week and will be arriving the 28 th june in San Jose at 11:30. I have contacted tropical tours shuttles and they say that the bus at 2 pm does leave now when it is low season and it needs more people. Are there other bus companies I can go with that leave at 2 pm?
    And if not, does anyone have a nice hostel to recommend that I can stay a night in San Jose and the easily take the bus next morning? Which is closest?

    Thanks! 🙂

    • centrocoasting

      Hi, hopefully you saw above that there are buses everyday twice a day to Santa Teresa! Tropical Tours is a shuttle service but the bus is much cheaper.

  8. Lukas

    Hello,
    last week we travelled on the Nicoya peninsula and as I got a lot of useful information here before our trip, I thought I will give you an update how buses and ferrys works now in June 2018. Our route was: San José => Paquera (spend a night) => Cobano => St. Teresa (few nights) => Cobáno => Montezuma (spend night) => San José.

    Ferry:
    – from Puntarenas to => Paquera: 5 am, 9 am, 11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm, 8:30 pm
    – from Paquera to => Puntarenas: 5:30 am, 9 am, 11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm, 8 pm
    – price ₡810
    – takes approximately 1,5hour

    Bus from San José to => Santa Teresa / Montezuma / Mal Pais:
    – ₡7545! per person, the ferry is included!
    – the buses are leaving the new 7-10 Terminal in San Jose at 6 am and 2 pm
    – bus is nice, clean, air-condition and weak free wifi
    – the bus at 6 am goes straight to the ferry and goes by the one at 9 am, bus driver will give you the ticket for the ferry, you have to leave the bus and enter by the ferry by foot, you enter the bus when the ferry ride ends in Paquera
    – don’t know how it works from here because we left the bus and stayed in Paquera

    Buses from Paquera ferry (Relleno) to => Cobano and the other way:
    – ₡1325 per person
    – time table can be found on the Transportes Cobano facebook page
    – 1,5 hour ride because the bus stops a lot

    Buses from Cobano to => Santa Teresa and the other way:
    – ₡1000 per person
    – this is not operated by Transportes Cobano!
    – the bus stop is almost at the same place as you get out of the bus from Paquera
    – Cobano => St. Teresa: 6:50am, 10:40am, 11:50am, 2:40pm, 5:00pm, 7:40pm (time table from info center in St. Teresa)
    – St. Teresa => Cobano: 3:00am, 6:00am, 8:00am, 10:00am, 12:00am, 2:00pm, 4:00pm, 6:00pm, 8:00pm (time table from the local restaurant owner in St. Teresa)
    – 1 hour ride because the road is pretty bad

    Buses from Cobano to => Montezuma and back:
    – ₡365 per person
    – time table can be found on the Transportes Cobano facebook page
    – 30 minut ride because the road is pretty bad

    Bus from Montezuma to => San Jose:
    – ₡7545! per person, the ferry is included!
    – times: 6:30am and 2:30pm
    – you can buy the ticket in Cobano office couple days before (recommended), because if you are leaving from Montezuma you just show the local bus driver this ticket and don’t pay anything. When you get out in Cobano you have to switch to the big and nice bus going straight to San José. If you don’t have the ticket, you have to go to the office and buy it (and the bus can get full easily). But the bus to San Jose is waiting if there are still people buying tickets, so you have some time but you cannot be sure if there is enough seats.
    – bus goes to Paquera, the one that leaves Montezuma at 2:30pm goes by the ferry at 5pm, you are in San José around 9pm.

    Bus from Santa Teresa to => San José:
    – didn’t take this route
    – you need the local buses from Santa Teresa to Cobano at 6am an 2pm (price is probably ₡1000 because it is different company)
    – in Cobano you switch to the same bus as people going from Montezuma, you need to buy a ticket (₡7545! per person, the ferry is included!)
    – then the ride is same as if you are going from Montezuma

    Otherwise we liked Santa Teresa much more than Montezuma. Montezuma is small and more expensive than St. Teresa, where is more shops, restaurants, hotels/hostels and much bigger beach (Playa Carmen, Santa Terasa, Hermosa + Manzanillo = at least 5km of beach).

    So hopefully this will help somebody. You can definitely find more information on the Transportes Cobano facebook page. But the buses are not usually going on time, the local ones are pretty bad, routes as well but still the buses on the Nicoya peninsula are one of the most expensive. So be there earlier, be prepared to wait and to pay a lot.

    Bye Lukas

    • centrocoasting

      Thank you, Lukas for such a super comprehensive update! This will definitely help many people as this page is one of our post popular.

  9. 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??

  10. 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.

  11. 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)

  12. Kia

    Hi,

    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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Roman

    Hi – do you know?? how can i Book the 6:00 AM Bus ?? Laterminalcostarica.com 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.

  16. 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!

  17. Thomas

    Hi
    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 (http://www.navieratambor.com/horarios-y-tarifas).
    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

    • Thomas

      I just found additional information on the Transport Cobano Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/TransCobano/
      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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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?

  20. 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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