Liberia to Santa Teresa: The 4 Best Transportation Options

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Are you looking for transportation from Liberia to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica?

The Liberia International Airport is a great jumping-off point for exploring the northern Pacific Coast all the way down to Santa Teresa. Getting between these two locations can be done in four different ways.

We created this post to go through the different transportation options, give you the pros and cons of each, and give you info on how to get around (plus fun things to do) once in Santa Teresa.

Let’s get to it!

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Getting to Santa Teresa from Liberia at a Glance

  • There are 4 different ways to get to Santa Teresa. These are; rental cars, private shuttles, shared shuttles, and public buses
  • It is helpful to have a rental car once in Santa Teresa for day trips

The Liberia International Airport

costa rica airports maps

The Liberia International Airport (LIR) is located just south of the city of Liberia in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica. This is a great airport alternative over the other international airport in the country (Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose). 

We like the Liberia Airport because it is less hectic and is a great jumping-off point for exploring the Guanacaste Province or the Nicoya Peninsula

It is a lot easier to get to Santa Teresa from the Liberia International Airport than the San Jose International Airport

For More Info Check Out:

Where is Santa Teresa?

Liberia to Santa Teresa: The 4 Best Transportation Options

Santa Teresa is located on the Nicoya Peninsula in the northwest part of Costa Rica.

This area is very remote, but despite that, Santa Teresa is a popular beach town.

It is a bustling tropical destination that is popular with backpackers, surfers, and yoga enthusiasts.

Now, let’s go through the four ways of getting here!

Option #1: Rent a Car

car rental liberia airport costa rica

Best For: Families, people who want a car in Santa Teresa for exploring, and people who are somewhat experienced drivers. 

Best Car to Rent

You do not need a 4×4 to get to Santa Teresa, however you might want one for exploring the area around Santa Teresa. Some of the roads are unpaved.

Also, it is a good idea to check exactly where your hotel or vacation rental is located. A lot of places are located on dirt roads in the hills above Santa Teresa and you might need 4 wheel drive to access them. 

No matter what, we suggest renting an SUV with decent clearance for a smoother ride. A lot of the roads are hilly and curvy. 

Booking a Rental Car

There are multiple rental car companies at the Liberia International Airport. 

Our personal favorite is a local company called Adobe Rent-a-Car. We love them because:

  • They are a local company with excellent customer service
  • They are completely upfront about costs and fees
  • And they have given us a 10% discount plus other great perks to pass on to you!

Check Availability and Book Your Rental Car with 10% Discount

Picking Up Your Rental Car

car rental liberia airport

The Liberia Airport does not have space for all of the rental car companies on site, so most are located withing a 5 minute drive of the airport.

If you rent with Adobe you will enter your flight info in your reservation. This allows an Adobe employee to be ready and waiting for you upon arrival. It is also great because they can easily keep track if your flight is delayed. 

When you exit the airport, just look for an employee holding and Adobe sign. They will then take you in a comfortable air conditioned shuttle to the Adobe office located a 5 minute drive away. 

Here you can get the keys to your rental and be on your way to begin your vacation in paradise!

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adobe car rental logo

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The Driving Route

This drive is usually not too bad or overwhelming. You will be on main roads the entire way. Usually, it takes about 4 hours to drive from the Liberia International Airport to Santa Teresa depending on traffic. 

From the airport head south on Route 21 toward Nicoya.

Continue on Route 21 until you reach the town of Nicoya. This is a bit confusing because the overall area is called the Nicoya Peninsula BUT the main town is also called Nicvoya.

In the town of Nicoya there are some food places and gas stations if you need a break.

Also, if you would like one of the most interesting dining experiences of your life, check out, Bernina Artisan Food.

It is about a 10 minute detour but totally worth it.

But keep in mind it is on the high-end price wise and you will probably end up spending at least an hour here.

Travel Tip: The free app Waze is the best for driving directions in Costa Rica

Anyway, in Nicoya, you will stay on Route 21 all the way to Paquera. The roads are very nice here and it is easy to end up speeding if there are no trucks in front of you.

Just be cautious because you will randomly come across small villages and there are a lot of speed bumps. It is easy to end up flying over them (we may or may not know from experience). 

Once you arrive in Paquera, turn right onto Route 160. Paquera is also the town where the ferry terminal is located. So, you might get stuck in a lot of traffic heading to the beach if the ferry arrives around the same time as you. 

Continue on Route 160 until you reach Cobano, which is approximately a 30 to 40-minute drive from Paquera.

In Cobano, follow the signs for Santa Teresa. You will need to take a left turn to connect to Route 618.

Continue on Route 618 until you reach Santa Teresa. The drive from Cobano to Santa Teresa takes around 20 to 30 minutes.

Note: Google Maps may try to direct you along the west coast on the Nicoya Peninsula. Don’t drive this route! It involves river crossings and is almost impossible to pass. You want to drive along the east coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.

For More Info on Driving, Check Out:

Option #2: Private Shuttle

road to to santa teresa costa rica

Best For: Large groups or families that won’t need a rental car in Santa Teresa

With a private shuttle, you are paying for a comfortable transfer with an experienced driver which is only for your group. 

This is a comfortable way of getting to Santa Teresa without the stress of driving yourself. 

The downside is that you will then need to figure out transportation if you want to explore once in Santa Teresa.

Adobe Rent-a-Car now also offers private transfers in large comfortable vans. You can find out more and get a price quote here. 

Option #3: Shared Shuttle

Best For: Solo travelers, couples who do not need a private transfer but want to get to Santa Teresa comfortably.

A shared shuttle can vary in price and comfort level. Our go-to website for booking shared shuttles in Costa Rica is Bookaway. They have an extensive number of daily transfer services between Liberia and Santa Teresa.

Find a Shared Shuttle from Liberia to Santa Teresa

Options #4: Public Bus

Best For: Budget travelers

There are not any good connections between Liberia and Santa Teresa by public bus. Basically, to do this you ill need to take 4 different buses. This is a journey that will take about 9 hours.

In my opinion, it is not worth the hassle at all. However, if you would like more info on routes you can check out the Bus Schedule website.

Transportation Once in Santa Teresa

Liberia to Santa Teresa: The 4 Best Transportation Options

Once you arrive in Santa Teresa you will need transportation to get around town and to fun activities. Here is our opinion on that….

We always suggest renting a car because it gives you the most flexibility to do off the beaten path activities and allows you to stay at a hotel that is not right downtown. 

The downtown area is very condensed and walkable, but most activities, besides surfing and relaxing on the beaches, are located within a thirty-minute drive of downtown.

You don’t need a 4×4 vehicle unless you are staying in the hills above Santa Teresa.

Check Availability and Book Your Rental Car with 10% Discount

Also, if you plan to drive to Montezuma, it is best to go around rather than through the road at Mal Pais. If you go by Mal Pais you will need to do river crossings, which are mostly impossible during the rainy season. 

Another option is to rent an ATV for a day or two once in town to explore the surrounding areas. We don’t have a favorite place to suggest to you. But we suggest reading reviews before you book anything. Also, ask if you need to return the ATV with a full tank and ask where you can get gas. 

You Won’t Need a Car if:

  • You plan on spending all of your time in Santa Teresa and on Santa Teresa Beach. 
  • You are staying in a resort and plan on taking advantage of all the amenities there. 
  • You are doing a surf or wellness retreat in the area.
  • You plan to book day tours with transportation included. 

Things to Do in Santa Teresa with a Rental Car

Here are some fun things we love to do in the Santa Teresa area if we have a car.

Visit Cabo Blanco Reserve

playa cabo blanco

Cabo Blanco Reserve is a national park located on the very tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. To get here, you will need to drive around past Montezuma. The hike is intense, but you will be rewarded with this beautiful beach.

Check out our guide to Cabo Blanco for more info

Go Bioluminescent Kayaking

Have you ever experienced bioluminescence? Seeing the water light up at night as you are kayaking in pure darkness is one of the most unique things you can experience in Costa Rica.

This experience is possible in the Paquera Bay year round but, it is best on a night with a new moon.

I suggest booking this experience with Bahia Rica. They are located right next to the ferry teminal in Paquera.  

Check Availability and Book Your Bioluminescent Experience

Hike at Curu Reserve

curu reserve

Curu Reserve is located on the main road on the way to Paquera. This unique place is not heavily visited by tourists, but it should be!

There are several trail options, an abundance of wildlife, and a beautiful beach.

Find out more with our guide to Curu Reserve. 

Take a Beach Walk in Montezuma

Liberia to Santa Teresa: The 4 Best Transportation Options

The beach in Montezuma is our favorite beach to walk in the country.

Here you can walk several miles through pristine shores and a wildlife reserve before coming to a waterfall that flows into the ocean.

It’s amazing! 

Find out more with our guide to the Montezuma beach walk. 

Hike at the Montezuma Waterfall

montezuma waterfall

The Montezuma Waterfall is located just outside of teh downtown area of Montezuma. These falls consists of three cascades of varying heights.

You can find out more info in our Montezuma waterfalls guide. 

Go Beach Hopping

mal pais in february

The Gulf of Nicoya offers many beautiful beaches which are perfect for all sorts of activities from swimming to surfing to fishing.

In Costa Rica, all beaches need to have public access by law. This means that all of the coastline is yours to explore!

So, hop in your rental car and just drive along the coast to see what you find.  

Check out our Complete Guide to Santa Teresa for all the best activities, hotels, restaurants, and more!

Other Things to Know

  • We strongly suggest purchasing travel insurance for your trip to Costa Rica. This will help protect you from losing money due to injury, lost luggage, sudden change of plans etc. Get a Travel Insurance Price Quote Here
  • Our favorite way to stay connected in Costa Rica is with a eSIM card. You can find more in our guide to staying connected in Costa Rica or go ahead and purchase your eSIM here.
  • Keep in mind your onward travel possibilities. This is important in factoring in the best transportation method to Santa Teresa.

Conclusion: Liberia to Santa Teresa Transportation

In conclusion, there are several different ways to get to Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula from the Liberia Airport area. These transportation methods all come with certain pros and cons and greatly depend on your particular travel style and needs.

If you have any questions about transportation to Santa Teresa don’t hesitate to leave your questions in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out!

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