Costa Rica airlines fly throughout the country to airports on all coasts and in the central region. With a domestic flight, you can arrive at your destination almost anywhere in the country in under an hour.
Keep in mind that these flights are typically on small Cessna Grand Caravan planes which hold up to 14 passengers.
Costa Rica Domestic Airports
There are actually a lot of domestic airports located throughout the country. They are located in:
San Jose (Juan Santamaría Internation Airport)
The main international airport in the country. Keep in mind that it is actually located in Alajuela (the city next to San Jose).
The airport code is SJO.
Liberia International Airport
The other international airport in the country. This airport is located in the northern part of Guanacaste Province near the Nicaragua border. It is a good spot to fly into if visiting Papagayo, Playas del Coco, Flamingo, or Tamarindo.
The airport code is: Daniel Oduber Quirós International (LIR)
Tamarindo is a popular and bustling beach town. It is a great place for surfing, ATV rides, snorkeling, and relaxing on the beach. Plus, this town is a foodie paradise.
Domestic flights fly to and from San Jose to Tamarindo.
The airport code is: Tamarindo (TNO)
Nosara is a relaxed beach town that is popular with surfers and yoga enthusiasts. It is also easy to get to Samara from this airport.
It is possible to fly between San Jose and Nosara.
The airport code is: Nosara (NOB)
Tambor is located on the Nicoya Peninsula near Montezuma, Mal Pais, and Santa Teresa. It is possible to fly here from San Jose or Liberia.
The airport code is: Tambor (TMU)
La Fortuna is a popular jungle adventure destination in the northern mountain region of the country. It is possible to fly here from San Jose or from Tortuguero. If coming from San Jose, just note that the plane usually makes a stop in Tortuguero on the way to La Fortuna.
The airport code is: Fortuna Arenal (FON)
Tortuguero is a remote Caribbean village that is typically only accessible by boat. Flying here will save you a three to four hour drive from San Jose.
It is possible to fly here from San Jose or La Fortuna
Limon is the main port city on the Caribbean coast. We suggest flying here if you will then travel down to Cahuita or Puerto Viejo. Limon itself is not a city you likely want to spend much time in.
It is possible to fly here from San Jose.
The airport code is: Limón International (LIO)
Quepos / Manuel Antonio
The Quepos airport is located just outside of the main town. This area is a popular tourist destination because it is home to the most visited national park in the country, Manuel Antonio National Park.
The airport code is: Quepos La Managua (XQP)
Palmar Sur is located just south of Uvita and Ojochal.
The airport code is: Palmar Sur (PMZ)
Drake Bay, located on the Osa Peninsula near the Panama border is notoriously a pain to get to. If you plan to visit here to explore Corcovado National Park we suggest flying to save yourself the hassle of driving from San Jose.
The airport code is: Drake Bay (DRK)
Puerto Jimenez is also located on the Osa Peninsula. It is a bit easier to drive here than getting to Drake by car. We have done the drive from San Jose here a few times and it is long (like 5 hours) but doable.
Flying will save you a lot of time.
However, we personally like having a rental car here for exploring.
The airport code is: Puerto Jiménez (PJM)
Golfito is also located in the southern Pacific coast of the country. We suggest flying here if you plan to head down to Pavones for surfing.
The airport code is: Golfito (GLF)
Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is a series of tropical islands located on the Caribbean coast of Panama. The airport is located on the main island called Isla Colon.
The airport code is: Bocas del Toro Isla Colón International (BOC)
The Domestic Airlines
As of now, there are only two domestic airlines offering domestic flights in Costa Rica. These are SANSA and Green Airways.
Green Airways only flies to and from San Jose and Quepos, Tambor, and Bocas del Toro (Panama).
SANSA flies to and from all the destinations we listed above except for Bocas del Toro, Panama.
How to Book a Flight
We almost always use Skyscanner to book our flights to Costa Rica we use Kiwi when booking our flights within Costa Rica.
Skyscanner almost always has the best deals for international flights, but within Costa Rica, they don’t seem to list as many flights as are actually available.
Kiwi is great because you can see options with both Green Airways and SANSA. That way, you might find it is cheaper to fly to your destination with one airline and back with the other.
Flying from San Jose Domestic Terminal
Keep in mind that the San Jose domestic terminal is located in a separate building from the main international airport. It is about a three-minute walk from the main airport to the domestic terminal.
Just note that you will need to go the Customs and get your luggage in the main terminal after your international flight arrival before heading to the domestic terminal.
So, it is best to give yourself at least two hours between landing and your domestic flight. I know that seems excessive, but you really never know about entering Costa Rica.
Sometimes the line at Customs moves really fast and other times you may be stuck waiting for an hour just to go through border control.
There is no need to get a taxi to the domestic terminal. When you exit the main airport, just turn left and walk on the sidewalk to the domestic terminal.
At the domestic terminal, you will need to check in at the front desk. The attendant working will weigh your checked luggage, weigh you, and weigh your carry-on.
You will then need to go through security, but in our experience, this is usually fast.
In the terminal, there is a small cafe, gift shop, and restrooms.
If you need to spend the night near the airport before your scheduled flight here are some suggestions.
Costa Rica Marriott – Hotel Hacienda Belen
Alice y Juancito Boutique Hotel
After your flight, you will need to get to your final destination.
If you are staying at a resort and do not plan on doing much exploring we suggest taking a taxi from the airport or organizing transportation with your resort.
Please read our guide to taxis because pirate taxi drivers notoriously hand out at the airports and might overcharge you by a lot.
If you plan on exploring a lot on your own we suggest renting a car. Our favorite rental car company in Costa Rica is a local company called Adobe.
Adobe can deliver your car to you for free up to 12 miles from their offices.
So, that means, if you fly into Limon, Quepos, or La Fortuna they can deliver your car to you at the airport for free because they have an office nearby all of these airports.
If you fly into San Jose or Liberia they provide a free shuttle to their office (five minutes away).
If you fly into Tamarindo, the Adobe office is about 16 miles away. They may charge you a small fee to have your car delivered to the airport.
Unfortunately, Adobe does not have an office on the Nicoya Peninsula (near the Nosara and Tambor airports) or the Osa Peninsula (near the Drake, Puerto Jimenez, and Golfito airports).
Adobe has kindly given us a 10% discount plus other great perks to pass on to you for your car rental. You can find out more and book your car here.
When We Suggest Domestic Flights
Domestic flights usually cost a lot more than renting a car or taking a private shuttle, however, a flight is much faster.
We especially suggest flying if:
– you are going from San Jose to the Osa Peninsula (Drake Bay, Puerto Jimenez, or Golfito) because this area is notoriously difficult to get to.
– you are going to Bocas del Toro, Panama. It is such a long day to get here by bus and water taxi. Plus, the border crossing experience is never fun.
– If you are staying at a resort and don’t need a rental car, flying might be worth it for you.
– If you have a short amount of time for your vacation and don’t want to waste a day with transportation, flying will save you time.
Our Domestic Flying Tips
– Be prepared to get weighed
– Be prepared for your luggage to be weighed. You may be charged extra if your luggage is over the weight limit.
– A few of the airports charge an airport usage fee. I know at La Fortuna it is $7 per person and I believe Bocas del Toro charges about $15 per person. I am not positive about the other airports, but just be prepared you might have to pay a bit for airport usage.
– We don’t suggest this if fear of flying. These flights are very safe and both airlines have very good reputations. However, they are small planes. You feel every bump. If you are really scared of flying and don’t feel like conquering your fear while in Costa Rica, its probably best to avoid this. However, if you feel like conquering your fear, it is a short flight and you will have beautiful views.
– Don’t forget that this is Costa Rica. In other words, sometimes things move at a different pace than you are used to. We have heard of flights getting delayed, rerouted etc. with no notification given ahead of time to the passengers.
– Book early. Usually, it is possible to get a flight because the airlines fly multiple times a day, but things do book out (especially during peak tourism season).
– Note that during the rainy season afternoon rain storms are typical. We suggest scheduling your flight in the morning for the best views.
– If you aren’t planning to take a domestic flight, but want the thrill and views, you can always enjoy paragliding off the coast or a helicopter tour. Here are a few good options.
Do you have any questions about domestic flights in Costa Rica? Leave them in the comment section below and we will gladly help you out!