Manuel Antonio is one of the most stunning places in Costa Rica. However, if you want to surf or check out even more paradise beaches, you should head from Manuel Antonio to Santa Teresa and jump in the waves there.
The southern Nicoya Peninsula
The easy way to travel from Manuel Antonio to Santa Teresa (the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula) is to book a shuttle boat. Sometimes, they will leave directly from Manuel Antonio and others will first bring you to Jaco on a bus. You could travel to Montezuma or Santa Theresa this way. However, starting this journey in Manuel Antonio will cost you at least $80.
If you want to travel by public bus toward Montezuma or Santa Teresa, you can follow the same route as me:
By public bus from Manuel Antonio to Santa Teresa
I thought I would take it easy and start the long journey in a relaxed way. Therefore, I took the bus from Quepos (the closest town from Manuel Antonio) to Puntarenas at 11 a.m. You shouldn’t leave later than that. Again, the free Wi-Fi on the bus didn’t work. Check their website for the up-to-date schedule as they keep changing times. It cost 2625 CRC for the whole way. Now, it took 1.5 h to Jaco as the bus stopped a lot to let people on or off the bus. Hence, it’s quicker to travel early in the morning. From there it took another 1.5 h and we reached Puntarenas at 2 p. m.
A local tried to get a taxi to the terminal for me for 2500 CRC but I declined and walked the 50 m to the main road. There, I shared the taxi with another local, and with the taximeter the fare was 1000 CRC to the ferry terminal. So, watch out for people who want to scam you into expensive taxis.
The ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera (Get from Manuel Antonio to Santa Teresa)
The ticket office is in front of the docks inside a restaurant. I bought my ticket to Paquera which only cost 810 CRC. Then, I still had time for a fresh coconut and afterward walked onto the ferry. There was a lot of space, so as a walking passenger, I think you don’t have to get there early. Getting in the car line will take a bit longer though, but it’s also easy and straightforward to take the ferry with your rental car.
Our ferry left on time at 3 p. m. and the ride was calm and you have a pretty view of green islands. We arrived at 4.15 p.m. Ten minutes before the landing they called down the people from the cars. The foot passengers could leave once the ferry was fully docked.
The bus to Montezuma /Cobano was waiting at the exit and it left as soon as everyone was on it (at 4.30 p.m.). The ride to Cobano cost 1500 CRC. This is a local bus that drives, really slow, stops all the time, and crams people on it. Some even have to stand. Hence, try to get on the bus quickly to save yourself a window seat and profit from the breeze.
In Cobano, we all had to get off the bus, but I think the same bus then continued to Montezuma. Our bus to Santa Teresa came at 6 p.m. and cost a little over a dollar. Obviously, we missed the sunset, but we reached the road with all the hotels after a 40-minute ride.
The northern Nicoya Peninsula
If you want to get to Samara, Nosara, or Tamarindo the first part of the trip is the same as you need to take the bus to Puntarenas. Then, you have to get a connection to San José. In San José, the buses to the Northern Nicoya Peninsula leave from Terminal 7-10 with Empresa Alfaro. A direct bus to Samara is at noon and a direct bus to Tamarindo at 3.30 p.m. If you can’t make the bus at noon to get to Samara, catch one that goes to Nicoya and change on a local bus there. Two more daily buses leave from Terminal Tralapa which is one block from Terminal 7-10.
For more travel information and secret travel tips for Costa Rica check out my Costa Rica travel guide on Amazon. The travel guide is available in English and in German.