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Top 4 Best Ways How To Get From Tamarindo to La Fortuna

How To Get From Tamarindo to La Fortuna

Hundreds of thousands of tourists travel from Tamarindo to La Fortuna every year. And you might be planning on going this route, but you’re probably not sure whether or not you should rent a car, take a flight, hire a private car service, or use the Costa Rican public transportation system to make it, right?

You’re not alone. Many people have come to me with this question, and I’ve helped them find the best ways to get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna in the best way for them.

This article will discuss the four main ways to get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna, from public buses to private flights. Let’s dive in and find out which option is best for you.

The Best Ways To Get From Tamarindo To La Fortuna

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

Let’s dive right in:

There are four ways to get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna. 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 way to get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna. On the other hand, hiring a private transportation service is the easiest and the fastest option, while going on a group shuttle gives you the best balance of price and comfort.  

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 Tamarindo to La Fortuna. 

Let’s start by comparing the different ways to get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna by how affordable each option is:

Cheapest Ways to Get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna

Transportation Service Price Per Person (USD)
Public Transportation $10 – $15
Driving (Car Rental) $30 – $60
Group Shuttle $50 – $60
Private Transfer $120 – $130


  • 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.

Public Bus From Tamarindo to La Fortuna

The cheapest way to get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna is to use the public bus. However, the trip is not straightforward because no direct bus connects these destinations. And it’s not very comfortable because you may need to travel standing for a long time and the buses lack air conditioning.

The travel time from Tamarindo to La Fortuna using the public bus system takes between 7 and 11 hours. The first bus from Tamarindo to Cañas takes 2.5 hours. Then, you walk or take a taxi for a kilometer (0.7 miles) from the Cañas terminal to the Cañas – Tilaran bus station. This second bus takes 30 minutes to get to the Tilaran Terminal. Finally, you catch the third and last bus from Tilaran to La Fortuna from this terminal, which takes another 2.5 hours. 

Note: Switching buses can be challenging if you don’t speak fluent Spanish. So, traveling by bus is the cheapest way to get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna, but it’s also a bit inconvenient, which is why I only recommend it if you are traveling on a tight budget.

However, despite these disadvantages, the good news is that this trip is affordable and doable. And I will guide you in this section on how to make it look relatively easy. I will even include links to Google Maps to make it very simple for you to make this trip, so keep the link to this article handy. You may want to refer back to it on your travel day. 

First, you must depart from Tamarindo at 8:15 am on a bus that will take you to Cañas. You take this bus at the Note: There is another bus leaving at 3:30 pm, but that one will arrive at Cañas at 6 pm, and in my experience, working with dozens of travelers, I would not recommend it. Generally, traveling by bus late in the day is not a good idea unless you’re traveling a short distance and you’re light like a local (i.e., not with travel backpacks which can make you more vulnerable in the eyes of bad people). So, stick to the 8:15 am bus, and you will arrive in Cañas at around 10:45 am. The terminal is nearby the Christian church

Next, once you arrive in Cañas, you can either walk or take a taxi for one kilometer (0.7 miles) from the Cañas Terminal (i.e., the Christian church mentioned above) to the

Note: Even though you will walk along a highway, there is a pedestrian walkway and a pedestrian bridge to cross the street so that you won’t step on the road. However, if you have multiple bags, you may want to take a taxi instead of walking. Taxis will be available at the terminal as you step out of the Tamarindo – Cañas bus. Walking with bags can make you more vulnerable to criminals, and while robbery seldom happens in this small town, it’s best to be safe and avoid putting yourself in the wrong position. A taxi will charge you $3 and get you to the terminal in about 3 minutes. 

After riding a taxi or walking, you will arrive at Tilaran’s bus station around 11 am. And then, you will need to wait for the 1:30 pm bus to depart from Cañas to Tilaran. This bus will cost $1 and will get you to Tilaran by 2 pm. 

Note: If you’re lucky and make it there before 10:45 am, you will be just in time to catch the 10:45 am bus to Tilaran. However, this is seldom the case, as most of the time, the Tamarindo bus gets to Cañas between 10:45 am, and 11 am, making it impossible to catch the 10:45 am bus to Tilaran. Nonetheless, I make the note because from time to time, when the traffic is low and few people travel on the Tamarindo bus (thus, the bus stops less frequently throughout the route), you can get to Tilaran’s bus station before 10:45 am.

The Cañas – Tilaran bus will take you to Cañas – Tilaran bus at 10:45 am, then you will arrive at Tilaran’s terminal at around 11:15 am, and you will be able to take the 12:15 pm bus from Tilaran to La Fortuna, arriving in La Fortuna before 3 pm. 

Depending on your Hotel/Airbnb location, you may be able to stop along the bus route and walk to it. Therefore, it’s vitally essential to prepare beforehand. Make sure you know exactly where your lodge is. And if possible, try asking your host if the place is en route. Some inns, such as Agua Inn in Nuevo Arenal or Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa, are right along the bus route.

Note: Even though the 142 route passes through where most lodgings are in Arenal, it does not go through El Castillo, a sector between Arenal and La Fortuna. El Castillo is home to Arenal’s Volcano National Park and a few iconic lodges like Nepenthe B&B, and Essence Arenal Boutique Hostel. Therefore, if you’re heading to this area, you must wait to arrive at La Fortuna and then take a taxi to El Castillo, which will cost about $20. 

Let’s explore other options to get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna;

Driving From Tamarindo to La Fortuna

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

Driving is the fastest way to get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna, which will take between 3 and 4 hours. A more precise estimate will depend on the traffic conditions and your experience driving around the country. On average, tourists take 4 hours to drive from Tamarindo to La Fortuna.

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

Fastest Ways to Get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna

Transportation Service How Long it Takes
Driving* 4 – 5 Hours
Private Transfer* 4 – 5 Hours
Group Shuttle 5 – 6 Hours
Public Bus 7 – 11 Hours

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

Cons of Driving from Tamarindo to La Fortuna

Driving from Tamarindo to La Fortuna has a couple of caveats you should consider before you decide on renting a car to make this trip. 

Driving is Not Always the Fastest Way to Get From Tamarindo to La Fortuna

As mentioned above, driving from Tamarindo to La Fortuna takes 4-5 hours. However, these averages are more realistic and applicable to those used to driving in Costa Rica. They do not necessarily apply to foreigners. 

The Google Maps average time from Tamarindo to La Fortuna uses real-time traffic speed to calculate the estimated travel time. However, most tourists drive at a significantly slower pace than locals. You will experience this if you decide to rent a car for your trip to Costa Rica. More likely than not, you will drive more slowly than Costa Ricans, and that’s because you will probably want to enjoy the incredible scenery, while the average local will be rushing to get home from work. 

As a general rule, I recommend adding 30 to 60 minutes to the estimated driving time the GPS device/app gives you. I recommend using Waze, the most popular GPS traffic system in Costa Rica. I drive approximately 50,000 kilometers per year (about 31,000 miles), and in my experience, Waze tends to be more accurate than Google Maps. The only drawback is that you need internet data to use Waze, so you will want to buy a chip with internet data if you want to use it.

Driving is Not the Easiest Way to Get From Tamarindo to La Fortuna

Driving from Tamarindo to La Fortuna is simple, but it’s not always easy. There are crazy local drivers, unpredictable and harsh weather conditions, and narrow roads in bad shape. 

As mentioned above, 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, on highway 1, one of the main routes from Tamarindo to La Fortuna, you might see someone going at 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. 

Now that you have the ins and outs about driving from Tamarindo to La Fortuna, 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 Car Service From Tamarindo to La Fortuna

We have already explored how complicated it is to get from Tamarindo to La Fortuna 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 Tamarindo to La Fortuna.

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

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 Tamarindo to your destination in La Fortuna. 

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 will usually cost $284 for 1 to 6 passengers. The pickup time can also influence your pricing. For example, if you want to travel at night, the prices might get $20+ higher for this service. 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. 

Group Shuttles From Tamarindo to La Fortuna

Getting a group shuttle from Tamarindo to La Fortuna is an excellent choice for solo travelers and couples. A group shuttle is a daily shared transportation service from Tamarindo to La Fortuna. A modern Van with A / C will pick you up at your lodge in Tamarindo and take you to La Fortuna.

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 Tamarindo to La Fortuna 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 La Fortuna 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. 

send us a message, and either myself or someone on my team will connect you with a private helicopter transfer. 

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! 

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