Xplore Costa Rica Tours & Transportation
We just got back from a wonderful 2 weeks in Tamarindo. We used the services of Denise & Paul with Xplore Costa Rica and we can't say enough good about them. They helped us from before our arrival with immediate email response; the airport pickup and tours (Palo Verde - ATV Canopy Combo - Fishing and Sunset Sailing). They were always on time, helpful with suggestions and tips and we always felt that we were in good hands. Although they're just starting out, they're #1 with us. Highly recommended!
- Adventure Travel
- Family Travel
Rent a car 4 sure!
Make sure you rent a car while in town. Even though you have everything right there in town you'll want to explore the surrounding province. There are so many awesome beaches just within a short car drive. Spend the days exploring other local towns and come back to all the action at night. There are several local car agencies but the only American one I saw was Alamo. Make sure you get a 4x4 and pay the extra cash for full coverage. Some of the roads there are pretty crazy during the green season.
There are two small local airlines that will fly directly into Tamarindo. The first is Nature Air and the second is SANSA Regional. They both have webiste you can book reservations for in advance. Don't expect big planes though. They are usually 6-10 seater plane. That in itself is a fun experience.
They fly direct from San Jose and will save you a very long bumpy and much unpaved car ride. Catching the bus is much cheaper but its stop about ever 10 minutes and will take you the whole day to get there. Flying takes less then an hour. Be warned there is a max 30 pound check in bag. You can take more but they will charge you by the pound. We were about 10 pounds over every time and just paid the fee.
Also note SANSA flys direct out of San Jose international airport while Nature Air operates out of a smaller airport about 10 minutes away. Quick and easy 15 dollar cab ride.
Alfaro bus from San Jose
If you want to go the least expensive route possible, you can take Alfaro bus which leaves from their own terminal 100 metres north of Coca Cola in downtown San Jose. The Tamarindo bus leaves at 8:30 am and 11:30 am daily and takes a good 7 hours to arrive. There are no bathrooms or AC and the road is quite bumpy on the last stretch. Expect to stop often to pick people up. Not the most comfortable bus in Costa Rica.
The bus returns at 3:30 and 5 AM daily or 1 pm on Sundays and the route back is about 6 hours.
Coach Costa Rica
This company offers private transportation directly to and from the destinations of your choosing. The air conditioned coaches seat 9 passengers and rates vary. The rate for the van from San Jose to Tamarindo was $185. When I compared this with bus service and the time it would take to make it to Tamarindo the price split between four people was very reasonable. Imagine if your group was larger?
The staff were awesome. Four members were waiting at the airport to greet us and take our luggage. Our driver advised us that he was at our service for the day and that we could stop anywhere in route. He took us to a fabulous roadside stand for breakfast, where we all feasted on poached eggs, rice, beans and toast in a mild red sauce. Breakfast for 5 cost only $8.
How to get to Tamarindo
The drive from Playa Conchal to Tamarindo is about 20 minutes. Just follow the signs, which there are plenty of. From Liberia it will take you about an hour to get there. Look out for the potholes. The close you get to the beach, the worse the road gets.
If you are picking up, or dropping off a car with Avis in Liberia, they are very difficult to find as they have no signs. But they are located in the back of the Burger King in Liberia.
In order to arrive at Beach Tamarindo there are 2 options, take a direct bus from San jOse, that leaves once a day, Alfaro terminal or the one that I had to do, to spend one night in San jOse (I do not recommend it to anybody), to rise very early, go to the Coca-Cola terminal, to take a 2 there bus to Santa Cruz, time 2hs., and to wait for the Tamarindo bus.time 1.30hs.
Playa Tamarindo is on the península Nicoya and if you reach it by car and you want to avoid the off road, which here means really huge holes and more than bumpy roads, you can reach P.to Moreno to take the Tempisque ferry but around Christmas this doesn't mean less time: a 4 hours queue for a 10 minute ride on the ferry which however isn't so unpleasant... the sun can melt you but very efficient pushcarts sell brusquedas (which can be salted or sweet), drinks, fresh fruit and hielo and it's almost impossible not to make friends with the other people queueing...
They ask you 900 colones for a car with driver and 30 colones each extra person (and when I was there 1US$ was about 380 colones).
But this service will stop when the nearby bridge, which is being built, will be finished...
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