If you are planning on traveling in Costa Rica to or from the Nicoya Peninsula, the best way for you to get there may be the Puntarenas ferry. The Puntarenas ferry in Costa Rica is fast, runs frequently, and is affordable. Despite that, the process can be a bit intimidating if it is your first time. We created this guide to the Puntarenas ferry in Costa Rica to prepare you so your trip can run smoothly.
Puntarenas Ferry in Costa Rica – Should you take it?
If you are planning on traveling from San Jose, Jaco, or Manuel Antonio over to the Nicoya Peninsula (Montezuma, Santa Teresa etc.) or vice-versa, the fastest and easiest way to do this is by taking the Puntarenas ferry to either Naranjo or Paquera.
The downside to taking the ferry is that if you miss it or it is already full you can be left waiting for several hours for the next one. We have taken the ferry and we have also done the drive all the way to the Nicoya Peninsula. In our opinion, the drive is nice if you are not in a time rush and want to go a better feel for the country. The ferry is great if you just want to get to your destination as quickly as possible.
Puntarenas Ferry in Costa Rica – Important Info
Timetable: The ferry leaves from Puntarenas to Naranjo every day at 6:30am, 10:00am, 2:30pm, 7:00pm.
From Puntarenas to Paquera: 7:00am, 11:00am, 3:00pm, 8:00pm
From Naranjo to Puntarenas: 8:00pm, 12:30pm, 4:30pm, 8:30pm
From Paquera to Puntarenas: 5:00, 9:00, 13:00, 17:00
Cost: A car with driver costs $25 for a one-way ticket. Single passengers cost about $1.50 per person.
The process: When you arrive at where the ferry is docked you will be in a line with other cars trying to get on board. You will either have to park your car in line if you are alone or send one of your passengers to go buy tickets. You can not take your car on board until your passenger returns with the tickets. Remind the person buying the tickets that the $25 for the car includes the driver’s ticket. Once they return with the tickets you can drive on board. Only one person is allowed in the car while driving on board. Everyone else in your group needs to walk on. You can meet them there.
When arriving at the other side the drivers will be asked to return to their cars first. Once everyone disembarks you will have to pick up your passengers in the parking lot.
What to Bring: The ferry ride is only 70 minutes long so you don’t need to bring much. I always bring a few snacks, sunscreen if I want to sit outside, some motion sickness pills just in case, and a good book to read (if you need a suggestion I just finished reading A Man Called Ove and it was one of the most beautifully melancholy books I’ve ever read. I balled my eyes out when I finished and I NEVER cry from books).
Puntarenas Ferry in Costa Rica – What You Can Expect On Board
The ferry has plenty of room for you to sit either inside or outside. Last time we took the Puntarenas ferry in Costa Rica the AC was cranked up so high inside. It was much more comfortable to sit outside.
There are plenty of bathrooms on board and a snack bar where you can buy things like chips, candy bars, sodas, popcorn etc.
Puntarenas Ferry in Costa Rica – Our Experiences
We have taken the Puntarenas ferry twice and both were probably really unique experiences.
The first time we took it was during Easter weekend. If you don’t know, Easter weekend is absolutely crazy in Costa Rica. Almost everyone in the country has that time off and so they all head to the beach. There were so many people hoping to take the ferry that even though we arrived an hour early we were unable to get on the next boat. Instead, we had to wait a few hours for the next ferry. It wasn’t very fun, but it was a good lesson to learn.
The second time we took the Puntarenas ferry in Costa Rica was on the morning after Tropical Storm Nate hit Costa Rica. You can read our entire crazy experience here, but to sum it up, we were in Montezuma and raced to the ferry hoping to catch the next one because we were unsure if we would be able to make it back to San Jose or not. We somehow made it to the ferry 10 minutes before it departed and we were the last or second to last car allowed to board. This ride was interesting because everyone was glued to the TV’s trying to figure out if they would be able to make it home. The water was also a bit rough that day and I was feeling pretty seasick.
Puntarenas Ferry in Costa Rica – Final Tips
– Arrive early: When it is full, it’s full. You’ll have to wait for the next one.
– You can not make reservations
– Keep the most important valuables with you on the ferry: Obviously, you are going to need your suitcases in the car during the ferry ride, but keep things like passports and money on you. I’ve never heard of anyone having their car vandalized while on the ferry, but it is always best to be a bit cautious.
– Don’t plan on hanging out in Puntarenas: Puntarenas is nasty. It’s not a place you want to spend much time at. As soon as you arrive in Puntarenas. leave. If you need to spend the night in Puntarenas, there are plenty of hotels at various price points you can stay at.
– Many of the roads on the Nicoya side are not paved: You will need a rental car with four-wheel drive. We have partnered with Adobe (our favorite rental car company here) to give you a 10% discount on your car rental. You can find out more here.
– On windy days it can be a bit choppy: If you have bad motion sickness just be prepared.
If you have any questions about the Puntarenas ferry please leave them in the comment section below and we’ll be happy to help you out!
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