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

How To Get From Santa Teresa to Arenal

Many people travel from Santa Teresa to Arenal annually. And you might be planning on going this route, but you’re probably not sure which means of transportation are available to make this trip, and that’s what brought you here.

Many people have come to me with this question, and I’ve helped them find the best ways to get from Santa Teresa to Arenal in the best way for them.

This article will discuss the four main ways to get from Santa Teresa to Arenal, from public buses to hiring a private car service. Let’s dive in and find out which option is best for you.

Transportation From Santa Teresa to Arenal

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

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

Public transportation is the cheapest way to get from Santa Teresa to Arenal. On the other hand, hiring a private transportation service is the easiest and the fastest option, while driving a rental car gives you more flexibility and freedom. 

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 Santa Teresa to Arenal. 

Let’s start by comparing the different ways to get from Santa Teresa to Arenal by how fast and how affordable each option is:

Fastest Ways to Get From Santa Teresa to Arenal

Transportation Service How Long it Takes
Private Shuttle 5.5 Hours
Drive a Rental Car 5 – 6 Hours
Group Shuttle 5 – 6 Hours
Public Buses 12 – 13 Hours

Cheapest Ways to Get from Santa Teresa to Arenal

Transportation Service Price Per Person (USD)
Public Buses $30 – $60
Drive a Rental Car $30 – $60
Group Shuttle $60 – $70
Private Shuttle $180 – $190


  • These are estimations to give you an idea.
  • 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.

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

How to Get From Santa Teresa to Arenal by Bus

The cheapest way to get from Santa Teresa to Arenal is to use the public transportation system. However, the trip is not straightforward because no direct bus connects these destinations. Nonetheless, this is one of the most accessible routes you can take using public transportation in Costa Rica. You must take a bus from Santa Teresa to San Jose, a bus from San Jose to La Fortuna, and then a taxi from La Fortuna to Arenal. The whole trip will take between twelve and thirteen hours. 

Let’s look at the step-by-step process for getting from Santa Teresa to Arenal by bus. 

1. First, you must take the 6 am bus from Santa Teresa to San Jose, which will cost $12 cash per person and will get to arrive at arrive at the Arenal by bus. Even though the trip is relatively inexpensive and straightforward, you should consider that none of the above two buses have air conditioning, making the trip a bit hot and uncomfortable.

Besides, depending on how far you’re heading into Arenal, the cost of the taxi from La Fortuna will make this trip cost as much as taking another means of transportation, such as driving or taking a group shuttle. Except, these later options will take half the time to get from Santa Teresa to Arenal.

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

Drive From Santa Teresa to Arenal

Generally, driving is the fastest way from Santa Teresa to Arenal, except if you lack experience driving in Costa Rica. Otherwise, a Private Car Service (a.k.a. a Private Shuttle or Private Transfer) will be faster. However, it would be best to consider other factors and caveats before renting a car to make this trip. Let’s explore them. 

Aspects to Consider Before Driving From from Santa Teresa to Arenal

Driving from Santa Teresa to Arenal is simple but 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

Now that you have the ins and outs of driving from Santa Teresa to Arenal, it may be time to find a reasonable Rental Car. If this is your case, I recommend using the . You can find the best car rental deals in one place. Choose the city or airport where you plan to pick up a rental car, and the tool will instantly show you the best deals across the major rental car companies in Costa Rica. 

Private Shuttle From Santa Teresa to Arenal

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

Hiring a Private Transportation Service, or a “Private Shuttle,” as locals call it, is the easiest way to get from Santa Teresa 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 don’t need to worry about carrying your luggage or walking around the public roads, compromising your safety and belongings. 

You also don’t 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 Santa Teresa 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 usually costs $375 for 1 to 6 passengers. The pickup time can also influence your pricing. For example, this service might get $20+ higher if you want to travel at night. And prices for private transfers are also subject to increase as demand rises, especially during the busiest days, so I recommend booking ahead of time. 

Santa Teresa to Arenal

Getting a group shuttle from Santa Teresa to Arenal is an excellent choice for solo travelers and couples. A group shuttle is a shared transportation service from Santa Teresa to Arenal. A modern Van with A / C will pick you up at your Santa Teresa lodge 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 Santa Teresa 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 and driving. The price can change depending on the seasonality and demand, but it’s usually around $65 per person. 

Book a Group Shuttle from Santa Teresa to Arenal here

Here’s the end of this article. Thank you for reading this far, and feel free to share this info with fellow travelers as you deem appropriate. Happy travels and ¡Pura Vida, amigos!

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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.