Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

Arenal Blog

Back to Blog

Top 4 Best Ways How To Get From Arenal to Santa Teresa

How To Get From Arenal to Santa Teresa

Hundreds of thousands of tourists travel from Arenal to Santa Teresa annually. If you’re planning on going this route, and you’re not sure whether you should rent a car and drive, take a flight, take a shuttle, hire a private car service, or use the public transportation system, this article is for you.

I’ve helped hundreds of tourists find the best option from Arenal to Santa Teresa. And in this article, I will discuss the four main ways to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa, from public buses to private car services.

Let’s dive in and find out which option is best for you.

The Best Ways To Get From Arenal to Santa Teresa

  1. Public Transportation
  2. Group Shuttles
  3. Private Shuttles
  4. Driving (Car Rental)

There are four ways to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa. You can use public transportation, go on a group shuttle, hire a private transportation service, or drive a rental car. Generally, the first two options are more affordable, and the latter is more convenient.

Public transportation is the cheapest option from Arenal to Santa Teresa. However, hiring a private car service or a private shuttle is the fastest and easiest option. And going on a group or shared Shuttle generally gives you the best balance of time and cost. 

Keep scrolling to find out how each option ranks against the other based on its pros and cons so that you can make the best of your trip from Arenal to Santa Teresa. 

Let’s explore each option’s pros and cons to help determine the best way for you to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa, starting by comparing prices.

Top 4 Cheapest Ways to Get from Arenal to Santa Teresa

Transportation Service Price Per Person (USD)
Public Transportation $35 – $55
Driving (Car Rental) $30 – $60
Group Shuttle $60 – $70
Private Shuttle $180 – $190


  • The above rates do not include the 13% IVA tax.
  • These prices assume there is a minimum of two travelers.
  • Renting a car consists of the base rate, insurance, and fuel.
  • Prices can fluctuate throughout the year based on market conditions and demand.

Note: The above prices are estimations to give you an idea.

Keep reading more detailed information on each service and how they work.

How to Get From Arenal to Santa Teresa by Bus

Going from Arenal to Santa Teresa using public buses is not straightforward as no direct bus connects these destinations. You must take a taxi from Arenal to La Fortuna, followed by a bus from La Fortuna to San Jose and then from San Jose to Santa Teresa, and the entire trip will take 12 to 13 hours. 

Here are the steps to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa by bus:

1. First, you must take a taxi from your lodging in Arenal to the Arenal, your taxi may take 10 to 30 minutes and cost $15 to $35 cash.

2. Once you arrive at La Fortuna Terminal, you must take the bus from La Fortuna to San Jose, which departs from La Fortuna at 8:40 am. This bus will take about 3.5 hours to get to San Jose and cost $6 cash per person.

3. Once you arrive at the Terminal in San Jose, you must take a taxi to the Arenal to Santa Teresa use public buses. Most travelers use the alternatives explained below, as they’ve determined that the cost savings achieved by using public buses are not worth the long trip and the lack of comfort.

Let’s explore the other ways to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa.

Driving From Arenal to Santa Teresa

Now that we know how long it takes to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa using public transportation let’s talk about how to make this trip much faster. 

Driving is the fastest way to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa, which will take between 5 and 6 hours. A more precise estimate will depend on the traffic conditions and your experience driving around the country. On average, tourists take 6 hours to go from Arenal to Santa Teresa.

Compared to all the other ways to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa, driving is one of the fastest ways, as shown in the following comparison table. 

Fastest Ways to Get from Arenal to Santa Teresa

Transportation Service How Long it Takes
Driving* 5 – 6 Hours
Private Shuttle* 5 – 6 Hours
Group Shuttle 5 – 6 Hours
Public Bus 12 – 13 Hours

*Going on a Private Shuttle will be faster than driving if you’re not used to driving in Costa Rica.

Aspects to Consider When Driving from Arenal to Santa Teresa

Driving from Arenal to Santa Teresa is simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. There are crazy local drivers, unpredictable and harsh weather conditions, and narrow roads in bad shape. 

Costa Ricans drive significantly faster than foreigners. In addition to this, since we know the roads, as locals, we can make risky moves that might scare someone who has never driven in our country. For example, it’s common to see local drivers going full speed, passing multiple vehicles on a relatively narrow road.

If you live in Costa Rica and have been through that route thousands of times, you will not see anything particularly wrong with this. But if you come from a developed country where the roads are much broader, and there are usually multiple lines on all the highways, you might see such a move as imprudent. 

On the other hand, you have the unpredictable weather conditions of Costa Rica. You might be driving with a clear sky when suddenly a cloud forms ahead, pouring rain all over the place. Driving under changing weather conditions might not be such a big problem during the summertime from December through April, but it can get extremely challenging during the rainy season. 

In Costa Rica, the rainy season is not so bad from May through August. However, it can get scary sometimes during September and October, especially if you stumble upon a storm while driving. These are the top 2 rainy months and the top months for accidents on the road. 

The rain also causes a lot of damage to the roads, which worsens during the rainy season. Many potholes come to life during this time of the year, and it takes a couple of months for the government to repair the cracks. 

A tourist’s main problem with potholes is that they can make a vehicle’s tire explode. Exploding tires do not usually cause many accidents in Costa Rica. However, they can easily create a trip very stressful for a tourist, who will need to phone in the car rental to get another vehicle and then file the insurance paperwork. It’s not dramatic, but it can ruin a few hours of your dream vacation time. 

Costa Rica Rental Car Comparison Tool

After considering the above drawbacks, if you decide that renting a car is still a good option, it may be time to find a reasonable Rental Car. And I recommend using the . You can find the best car rental deals in one place. All you need to do is choose the city or airport where you plan to pick up a car, and the Costa Rica Rental Car Comparison Tool will instantly display the best deals across the major rental car companies in Costa Rica. Give it a try. 

Arenal to Santa Teresa Private Shuttle

We have already explored how complicated it is to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa using public transportation. We also covered how driving can be problematic, so what’s the easiest way to make this trip? 

Booking a private car service is arguably the easiest way to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa.

Hiring a Private Transportation Service, or a “Private Shuttle,” as locals call it, is the easiest way to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa. You can arrange a specific time and place with a private shuttle, and a transportation company will pick you up and take you to your lodge in Santa Teresa. 

Here at Arenal Tours, we offer a private door-to-door service, so you can relax and enjoy the ride while we take care of the heavy lifting and drive for you. 

That way, you don’t need to worry about carrying your personal belongings around using public transportation. Neither will you need to worry about driving in a foreign country with roads that might differ significantly from the streets you’re used to riding back home. 

Instead, you arrange the pickup time and place. Then, one of our local professional drivers will pick you up with a modern vehicle to take you from your departure place in Arenal to your destination in Santa Teresa.

The only disadvantage of hiring this type of transportation service is the price. Going on a private transfer is the most comfortable, convenient, and straightforward option but also pricey. 

Depending on the pickup and dropoff places, a private transfer from Arenal to Santa Teresa will usually cost $375 for 1 to 6 passengers. And your pickup time can also influence your pricing. For example, if you want to depart Arenal before 7 am or after 5 pm, there is a $20 additional fee for this service. Additionally, private transfer prices will increase as demand rises, especially during the busiest days, so I recommend booking ahead of time. 

Arenal to Santa Teresa Group Shuttle

Getting a group shuttle from Arenal to Santa Teresa is an excellent choice for solo travelers and couples. A group shuttle is a daily shared transportation service from Arenal to Santa Teresa. A modern Van with air conditioning and WiFi will pick you up at your lodge in Arenal and take you to Santa Teresa.

Generally, taking a group shuttle, or a “shared shuttle,” as the locals call it, is the most recommended door-to-door way to get from Arenal to Santa Teresa for most travelers. Group shuttles are convenient and provide the best balance, saving time and money for travelers in most cases.

Here at Arenal Tours, we offer group shuttles, where you share the shuttle service with fellow travelers and the cost, making it an excellent option for solo travelers and couples. Using our group shuttle to get to Santa Teresa will be far more convenient than riding the public bus and significantly less expensive than hiring a private transfer. 

Using our group shuttle is also more manageable and less stressful than renting a car and driving. The price can change depending on the seasonality and demand, but it’s usually around $47 per person per way. 

Related Articles: 

About the Author

Daniel Lalinde

I am the founder of send us a message, and we will happily assist you! 


Use our Rental Car Comparison Tool to Find the Lowest Prices (Guaranteed) On Car Rentals To Visit Costa Rica. Choose the city or airport where you plan to pick it up, and our tool will show you the top deals in real-time.