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Top 4 Best Ways How To Get From Jaco Beach to Arenal Volcano

How To Get From Jaco Beach to Arenal Volcano

Hundreds of thousands of tourists travel from Jaco to Arenal 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 Jaco to Arenal. And in this article, I will discuss the four main ways to get from Jaco to Arenal, 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 Jaco To Arenal

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

There are four ways to get from Jaco to Arenal. 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 Jaco to Arenal. However, hiring a private car service is the fastest and easiest option. And going on a group 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 Jaco to Arenal. 

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

Cheapest Ways to Get from Jaco to Arenal

Transportation Service Price Per Person (USD)
Public Transportation $30 – $50
Driving (Car Rental) $30 – $60
Group Shuttle $60 – $70
Private Shuttle $120 – $130

Notes:

  • 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.

Jaco to Arenal Bus

The cheapest way to get from Jaco to Arenal is to use the public transportation system. However, the trip is not straightforward because no direct bus connects these destinations. You must take a bus from Jaco to San Jose and another from San Jose to La Fortuna, followed by a taxi from La Fortuna to Arenal. And the entire trip will take nine and ten hours of travel time

Due to the long trip, I generally don’t recommend using public buses for tourists unless they’re traveling on a tight budget. If that’s your case, let’s look at the step-by-step process for getting from Jaco to Arenal by bus. Along with the instructions, I will share the links to Google Maps landmarks, which will be essential to make this trip. 

How Do I Get From Jaco to Arenal by Bus?

1. First, you must walk or take a taxi from your lodge in Jaco to the Jaco Bus Terminal. Then you must take the bus from Jaco to San Jose. Even though there are multiple bus schedules from Jaco to San Jose, I recommend you take the one that departs at 9 am to give you enough time to get to San Jose in time to take the next bus.

This bus takes about 3 hours and a half, but if there is an accident on the road, it can take longer; thus, taking the 11 am bus is an option, but a risky one. It’s better to stick to the 9 am bus, which gets to San Jose around 12:30 pm.

The Jaco – San Jose bus costs about $6 per person, and it takes 3.5 hours to get to the terminal in San Jose, arrive at arrive at the Jaco to Arenal by bus. Even though the trip is inexpensive, the journey is long, taking up the entire day. And depending on where you’re heading in Arenal, the cost of traveling using public transportation can be the same or higher than using other means of transportation. I will discuss this in the following sections.

Besides, switching buses two times can be tiring. And none of the above four bus routes has air conditioning, making the trip hot and uncomfortable. Additionally, you can’t purchase the tickets for the second bus ahead of time, so you may not get a seat. Consequently, you may need to travel standing up for three hours on that route.

From experience, having helped hundreds of tourists over the last decade, I can tell that only a teeny tiny percentage of travelers going from Jaco to Arenal 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 and a long journey.

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

Drive From Jaco to Arenal

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

Driving is the fastest way to get from Jaco to Arenal, which will take between 3 and 5 hours. A more precise estimate will depend on the traffic conditions and your experience driving around the country. On average, tourists take 4.5 hours to drive from Jaco to Arenal.

Compared to all the other ways to get from Jaco to Arenal, driving is the fastest way, as shown in the following comparison table. 

Fastest Ways to Get from Jaco to Arenal

Transportation Service How Long it Takes
Driving* 3 – 5 Hours
Private Shuttle* 3 – 5 Hours
Group Shuttle 4 – 5 Hours
Public Bus 9 – 10 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 Jaco to Arenal

Driving from Jaco to Arenal 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. 

Where to Stop Between Jaco and Arenal

The best stop from Jaco to Arenal is the Tarcoles Crocodile River Tour at the Tarcoles river along the road from Jaco to Arenal. On this tour, you go on a boat with a tour guide along the Tarcoles river to see the local wildlife up-close in their natural habitat. 

On this tour, you see giant crocodiles, exotic birds, iguanas, lizards, and much more. In addition to the river tour, there are restaurants, a souvenir shop, and a supermarket at this stop. And it’s just about halfway from Jaco to Arenal, making it a great place to stretch your legs, use the restrooms, grab something to eat, do something fun along the way, and relax from the long trip.

I recommend stopping here if you drive from Jaco to Arenal. You will not regret it, especially if you decide to go on the Crocodile River Tour, for which you need to make reservations ahead of time to secure your spots.

You can book the Tarcoles Crocodile River Tour here.

Jaco to Arenal Private Shuttle

We have already explored how complicated it is to get from Jaco to Arenal 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 Jaco to Arenal.

Hiring a Private Transportation Service, or a “Private Shuttle,” as locals call it, is the easiest way to get from Jaco to Arenal. 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 Arenal. 

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 Jaco to your destination in Arenal.

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 Jaco to Arenal will usually cost $255 for 1 to 6 passengers. And your pickup time can also influence your pricing. For example, if you want to depart Jaco 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. 

Book a Private Car Service from Jaco to Arenal here

Jaco to Arenal Group Shuttle

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

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 Jaco to Arenal 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 Arenal 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 $65 per person per way. 

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About the Author

Daniel Lalinde

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

 

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Experience the best Crocodile River Tour on the way to Manuel Antonio at the Tarcoles river. Go on a boat with a tour guide along the Tarcoles river to see local wildlife, such as giant crocodiles and exotic birds, up close in their natural habitat.