Traveling Directions

Traveling to Santa Teresa/Mal Pais Instructions

•  Airfare to San Jose, Costa Rica and transport to Mal Pais is not included in any packages.

•  Note: When you leave Costa Rica to return home there is an airport Departure Tax of $28 for all foreign passengers departing on international flights.

•  Travel to Shaka Beach Retreat Playa Hermosa in Mal Pais (not to be confused with Playa Hermosa, Jaco) is a relatively easy process.


•  There are four ways to travel from San Jose to Shaka Beach Retreat, Flying by puddle jumper, Shuttle bus, local bus, and rent a car. If you are feeling adventuresome and would like to see more of the country I would recommend using ground transportation. Listed below are full detailed guides.

A. (By puddle jumper airplane approx $100 each way):
There are 2 airlines that fly from San Jose to Tambor, Sansa and Nature Air. Reservations can be made either online, or by phone at Toll Free USA 1-877-767-2672 and Toll Free USA / Canada 1-800-235-9272. Make sure to check for current flight schedules since they change flight times depending on the seasons. Once you arrive in the airport, follow the signs to Immigration, once through, continue to baggage claim. Exit through Customs and out onto the street. There will be lots of guys asking if you need a taxi, if you are going to catch a puddle jumper flight, say NO and exit the building, make a left on the curb and walk down the half circle driveway to the street. Make a left at the street and walk a half block till you see the Sansa and Nature Airlines parking lot. Walk through the lot and into the regional airport terminal.

** Both Sansa and Nature Air let you bring around 25 lbs of luggage. If your luggage is more than that, you will pay a dollar per pound over. If you are traveling with LARGE surfboards or many bags, they may not let you fly so be sure to check their website before booking your flights.  The puddle jumpers to Tambor are about a 25 minute flight. Views on these flights are absolutely amazing on clear days. Once at Tambor airport (which consists of a runway, chain link fence, 1 bench, and small parking lot), grab one of the taxis waiting in the parking lot, the normal cost is $55 which will bring you directly to Shaka Surf Camp Playa Hermosa. This ride takes around 50 minutes.

B. (Shuttle Bus by Montezuma Expeditions):
The shuttle bus departs from San Jose and Mal Pais daily. You can book it by calling (506) 2440-8078, The shuttle bus will pick you up at the airport or your hotel. The price is $55/per person each way. There are also many private shuttle companies. The shuttle ride is an approximate 6-hour drive through Costa Rica ‘s picturesque countryside, including a 90-minute ferry ride on the Golfo de Nicoya.

C. (The local bus): This is the cheapest $12 and very pleasant with AC. If you are going to bus it to Santa Teresa, tell the taxi driver to take you to the San Carlos Bus Terminal. There are 2 buses per day that depart for Mal Pais around 6 am and 2 pm. These times are constantly changing so it is very important to check current departure times and arrive at least an hour early.  Any travel agent, taxi driver or front desk if you stay the night at a hotel should know the number and be able to make the call for you or you can call yourself @506 2642-019. Once there, find the bus labeled Mal Pais,  Cobano. Usually you stand in line and buy your ticket as you board the bus. If you arrive early there may be a ticketing area near by, but I have never used it. NEVER EVER leave your stuff on the street or unattended. The Bus seats fill up fast and its first come; first serve so get in line for the bus when it arrives. Larger bags are stored below which they give you a claim ticket for. The bus ride to the ferry takes about 2 ½ hours stopping once half way, for a 15min snack and bathroom break. Everyone must exit the bus and board the ferry on foot. All vehicles board separately with the driver only. When you exit the bus you will be given a re-board ticket and a one way ferry ticket. Sometimes they require you to buy your own ferry ticket, if this is the case follow everyone from the bus to the ticket counter, purchase a passenger ticket (costs about $1)  and then follow everyone on to the ferry. The ferry ride is a nice relaxing ride with amazing views of the Nicoya Peninsula . The ferry ride is about a 1 ½ hour ride and is equipped with bathrooms, an air-conditioned room and outdoor deck with snack shop/bar. The ferry will let you off in Paquera where you will re-board your bus. The remainder of the bus ride is about 1 ½ hour ride where you will get off at Franks Place in Mal Pais. Across the street from Franks Place there is a bank (open 1-7pm Mon-Sat), restaurants, shops, car rentals, and internet cafes. Its about 10 minutes north to Shaka Surf Camp in Hermosa. If necessary a taxi can be easily found here for about $12 to Playa Hermosa.

D. (Car rental): Most of the airport car rental agencies have offices across Route 1 from the airport. When you exit the rental agency, return to Route 1 by driving on the access road between the Holiday Inn (on the left) and the Denny’s restaurant/Fiesta Casino (on the right), then turning right. You must immediately cross into the left lane and turn left onto the exit lane to Route 1. Merge onto Route 1 and continue past the airport terminal turnoff. Immediately after passing the turnoff into the airport, you will be in the left lane (“San Ramon”); stay in that lane rather than the right lane, which exits to Alajuela and check your odometer reading. Continue on Route 1, about 7 kilometers, and look for a pair of bridges spanning the highway (one bridge is concrete, the other is a steel truss bridge) and turn right off the highway onto a ramp that circles to the right and puts you on the truss bridge. Cross the highway and continue straight for about 3 kilometers. Nearing Route 27, you will cross a railroad track and immediately come to a traffic circle. Follow the traffic circle and turn right onto the Autopista (the sign says “Orotina” or “Caldera”). Stay on this highway, following signs for Caldera and Puntarenas. Puntarenes is after the town of Caldera, which is the first town where you will see the beach on your left. After Caldera, the exit to Puntarenes will be a couple of minutes up on the right and is on an overpass which is a slightly right angle. After exiting at the Punterenes sign, follow the road for a while to the end of the peninsula. You will pass a shell gas station and a soccer stadium as you get close to the end. Drive until you hit the water, then a slight right and around the new municipal pool until you get to the ferry parking area on your left.

From Puntarenas you will want to take the ferry to Paquera. As ferry times are constantly changing, it is always a good idea to check beforehand at We now have 2 larger ferries, the Tambor II and Tambor III, so it is no longer necessary to plan your trip around the bigger ferry, either will work. After the 1-hour scenic ferry ride, you arrive in Paquera. From there you will drive west through Tambor and Cobano, then follow the signs to “Mal País/Santa Teresa”. You will basically be on the same road all the way from Paquera to Santa Teresa. In the crossroads of town (“Frank’s Place”), which separates Santa Teresa from Mal Pais, you will turn right. Drive through Santa Teresa, into Playa Hermosa (approximately 6kms. from the crossroads) until you cross over the bridge and pass Hermosa Valley School on the left. After the school, turn left at the fork and we are 100 meters up on the left.

This is a four-to-five hour trip, not including any wait for the ferry.