San Jose to Manuel Antonio: Discover The Best Transportation Options Available

Last updated on February 14th, 2024 at 12:43 pm

Your trip from San Jose to Manuel Antonio Costa Rica should be fun and stress free. Unlock a world of transportation possibilities and discover the best ways to reach the tropical paradise of Manuel Antonio from San Jose, ensuring a seamless and unforgettable travel experience. From scenic drives along the coast to private shuttles and convenient flights, we’ll guide you through the top transportation options, making your trip to this adoring beach town in Costa Rica, home of the renown Manuel Antonio National Park a breeze. Let the journey begin!

About The Tropical Paradise of Manuel Antonio

Get to Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

Every year, thousands of visitors flock to the enchanting beach town of Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica, drawn by its irresistible allure. Manuel Antonio has a myriad of hotels, resorts, and luxury villas, catering to every budget and desire. With its world renown Manuel Antonio National Park, pristine sandy beaches, lush rainforests teeming with wildlife, and a captivating blend of natural beauty and adventure, it’s no wonder this coastal gem has become a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an unforgettable tropical escape.


Understanding the Journey to Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

So soon you’ll be heading from San José to Manuel Antonio from the bustling San Jose International Airport where you’ll encounter a scenic drive through the awe-inspiring landscapes of Costa Rica. As you venture along this captivating route, it’s crucial to arm yourself with all the necessary facts, ensuring a well-informed and seamless trip to experience the unrivaled beauty of the scenic drive to Manuel Antonio.

The Distance from San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Setting off on a journey from San Jose to Manuel Antonio unveils a captivating route that spans approximately 160 kilometers (100 miles) along Costa Rica’s lush landscapes and stunning western coast. The drive encompasses a mix of picturesque landscapes, including rolling hills, dense rainforests, and breathtaking ocean views.

Driving Travel Time from San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Travelers can anticipate the travel time from San Jose to Manuel Antonio to take approximately 3 to 4 hours, depending on several factors including road conditions, traffic conditions, time of year, time of day, stops along the way, and the chosen route.

Challenges of Getting to Manuel Antonio

When journeying from San José to Manuel Antonio, it’s essential to be aware of potential delays. Heavy traffic, road construction, and even labor picket lines disrupting bridge crossings can occur, so flexibility is key. If everything goes well, your trip will take roughly three hours. Unforeseen circumstances may extend your travel time when leaving San Jose. Stay prepared and adaptable to ensure a smoother and stress-free adventure to Manuel Antonio. If you are renting a car, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the following conditions BEFORE you start your voyage to Manuel Antonio. Reputable transportation companies will already know the current road conditions.

Road Conditions

Be aware that storms and mudslides can lead to poor road conditions from San José to Manuel Antonio and occasional shutdowns along the route. This is especially critical to check during the rainy season in Costa Rica, causing potential delays and emphasizing the importance of staying updated on weather conditions before your journey. Especially important to know if renting a car.

Traveling During Different Seasons Can Greatly Impact Your Drive Time

Driving to Manuel Antonio from San Jose

Travel times by rental car or private transfers such as a private shuttle or direct buses to Manuel Antonio can vary dependent on the time of year. For instance, peak tourist seasons (December through April), holidays, and school breaks typically resulting in heavier traffic and longer travel times, while quieter non-peak seasons may offer faster and smoother journeys.

Best Time to Travel to Manuel Antonio

The best time to drive from San Jose to Manuel Antonio, after arriving at San Jose airport, is set by various factors. From the time of the year, which days of the week, and the time of day. For many travelers, these factors may be beyond their control, yet it remains crucial to time their journey to Manuel Antonio in scenic Costa Rica carefully. Doing so ensures a delightful beginning to their vacation, setting the right tone for an unforgettable experience in this coastal paradise.

Best Time of The Year to Travel

Costa Rica is notorious for rainy weather. The best time of the year to take the picturesque drive from San José to Manuel Antonio is not a straightforward answer. While the peak season (December through April) boasts glorious weather, it also brings crowded roads, adding minutes to your travel time. On the other hand, the green season (September through Mid November) offers fewer cars on the road, yet weather conditions may occasionally hinder the drive. Consider the best days and time of day to improve your chances of a smooth ride to Manuel Antonio’s coastal paradise.

Best Days of The Week to Drive to Manuel Antonio

Generally, weekdays tend to have less traffic compared to weekends on the road from Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) to Manuel Antonio. Specifically, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are often considered to have lighter traffic volume and fewer congestion points along the route. This is because weekdays typically have fewer tourists and local travelers compared to weekends when the locals (Ticos) tend to embark on weekend beach getaways or leisure trip to Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. However, it’s important to note that traffic conditions can vary depending on the time of year, holidays, special events, and other factors. It’s always advisable to check real-time traffic updates and plan your trip accordingly to ensure a smoother and more efficient travel experience.

Best time of the day

The optimal time of day to embark on your San Jose Airport to Manuel Antonio journey are early mornings and early evening departures. Setting off in the early morning unveils a world of fewer cars dotting the roads. While embarking on a late evening departure offers the advantage of encountering lighter traffic, it comes with the trade-off of missing out on the captivating kaleidoscope of the Costa Rican landscape. The lush greenery, swaying palm trees, and breathtaking coastal vistas, create an awe-inspiring spectacle that deserves to be experienced firsthand. Keep in mind that travel time will vary, but venturing earlier ensures you can immerse yourself in the picturesque beauty that unfolds along the route to Manuel Antonio.

Transportation Options to Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

You’re about to visit the vibrant tapestry of Manuel Antonio Costa Rica, where nature’s wonders unfold. But first, you’ll take a trip from San Jose to Manuel Antonio. As you set foot in this tropical paradise, a multitude of transportation options from San Jose International Airport are available, each offering its own unique charm. Whether you seek the scenic allure of road trips by a private transfer, the convenience of shuttles, the freedom of self-driving a rental car, or decide to take a flight, discover the perfect means to get from San José to Manuel Antonio, you’ll experience why over 3 million visitors flock to this beautiful country in Central America annually.

What Type of Payments Are Accepted?

When it comes to payments for your trip from San Jose to Manuel Antonio, various methods are accepted in Costa Rica. Cash is widely used, and both Costa Rican colones and US dollars are accepted currencies. Keep in mind, paying with US dollars in cash, you will receive change in Costa Rican colones. So, if you’re using US dollars for your transactions, expect to receive the remaining amount in the local currency, Costa Rican colones. Most places in San Jose and other tourist areas also accept major credit cards. It’s essential to have some cash on hand for smaller establishments or when purchasing tickets, as they may only accept cash payments. 

Embracing Public Transportation: Taking a Bus Ride

Hop on a public direct bus to Manuel Antonio, operated by various companies like Tracopa and Transportes Blanco. Departing from the bustling San Carlos Terminal in San Jose, these buses go on a direct drive to Manuel Antonio, making stops along the way to soak in the captivating Costa Rican landscapes. With the Quepos bus station as your gateway, this affordable option allows you to savor the scenic route as the bus transports you to the idyllic shores of Manuel Antonio.

Bus Transportation Companies that Operate Routes to Manuel Antonio

For the most up-to-date bus schedules, reach out to each bus transportation business directly. They’ll be happy to provide you with the accurate information you need for planning your journey.

  • Tracopa: Tracopa is a well-known bus operation in Costa Rica that offers direct bus service from San Jose to Manuel Antonio and vice versa. They provide comfortable buses with regular departures.
  • Transportes Blanco: Another reputable bus company, Transportes Blanco, operates direct bus routes between San Jose and Manuel Antonio. Their buses are known for their reliability and comfort.
  • Empresa de Transporte Unidos: Empresa de Transporte Unidos is a bus business that serves various destinations in Costa Rica, including Manuel Antonio. They offer reliable services connecting different towns and cities.

Bus Routes from San Jose to Manuel Antonio

There is only one bus routes available from San José to Manuel Antonio but there are other bus routes to travel in the Manuel Antonio Area:

  • San José to Manuel Antonio: This is the main and most direct route, departing from the San Carlos Terminal in downtown San Jose and making stops along the way, including Quepos bus station.
  • Quepos to Manuel Antonio: If you are already in Quepos, you can take a local bus or a cab for a shorter ride to Manuel Antonio. The bus route is usually frequent and convenient.
  • Other nearby towns: Buses from neighboring towns like Jaco, Dominical, or Uvita may also have routes that pass through or near Manuel Antonio, offering additional transportation options for travelers.

Bus Departure Terminals

The most common bus stations in San Jose for direct bus rides to Manuel Antonio are:

  • San Carlos Terminal (Terminal San Carlos): Located in downtown San Jose, the San Carlos Terminal serves as a major hub for buses traveling to various destinations, including Manuel Antonio. Many bus companies operate from this terminal, offering direct services to Manuel Antonio.
  • Coca-Cola Terminal (Terminal Coca-Cola): Another popular bus station in San Jose, the Coca-Cola Terminal is known for its extensive network of bus routes. Some buses bound for Manuel Antonio may depart from this terminal, providing convenient access to travelers.

Both the San Carlos Terminal and Coca-Cola Terminal are well-connected transportation hubs, making it convenient for visitors to catch direct buses to Manuel Antonio. It’s recommended to check the specific bus operation and departure point when planning your voyage.

Bus Arrival Station in Quepos

The bus arrival bus station in Manuel Antonio is commonly referred to as the Quepos Bus Terminal. Quepos is the town located near Manuel Antonio, and the bus terminal serves as the main transportation hub for visitors arriving by bus. From the Quepos Bus Terminal, it is easy to access the nearby Manuel Antonio National Park and other attractions in the area.

Options to Get to Manuel Antonio from Quepos

A bus from San José to Manuel Antonio will end the Quepos bus station. From the Quepos Terminal, you can easily access Manuel Antonio by taking a short additional ride. Whether you choose to walk, take a taxi, or hop on a local bus, there are many ways available to take you from the Quepos Terminal to the beautiful coastal area of Manuel Antonio. The distance between Quepos and Manuel Antonio is relatively short, making it convenient to reach your desired destination from the bus stop.

A Factor to Be Aware of When Deciding to Take a Public Bus

While riding a bus is the least expensive way to arrive at Manuel Antonio, the downside is, there are no direct bus terminals near San Jose Airport (SJO) that offer direct service to Manuel Antonio. The bus terminals in San Jose, such as the San Carlos Terminal and Coca-Cola Terminal, are the most common starting points for direct bus rides to Manuel Antonio. To travel from San Jose International airport to Manuel Antonio by bus, you would need to arrange transportation from San Jose airport to one of the bus terminals in San Jose and then board a bus to Manuel Antonio from there.

Take a taxi to Manuel Antonio

A convenient way to travel to Manuel Antonio is by taking a taxi. If you’re traveling with a small group, it’s the ideal option for a quick and hassle-free ride. Enjoy the comfort of a private ride while reaching your destination efficiently, second only to taking a flight.

Are There Authorized Transportation Companies Available at SJO or Can I Hire Any Taxi?

Overall, Costa Rica is a safe travel destination however, opting for authorized transportation companies from SJO or a hotel in San Jose is crucial for a safe and reliable journey. Authorized companies ensure professional drivers, proper insurance coverage, and adherence to regulations, providing peace of mind. Choosing authorized services guarantees a secure and trustworthy transportation experience, safeguarding you from potential risks and ensuring a seamless trip to Manuel Antonio.

Authorized Taxi Companies that Operate at Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO)

  • Taxis Unidos
  • Taxis San Jose
  • Taxis Aeropuerto

It’s important to note that these authorized taxi companies have designated service counters within the airport terminal, where you can arrange and pay for your taxi service. Avoid accepting rides from unauthorized or unlicensed individuals to ensure a secure and reliable journey to your destination.

How to Identify an Authorized Taxi Company

There is a color that identifies the authorized taxi companies at the San Jose International Airport (SJO) in Costa Rica. The taxis operated by the authorized companies typically have a DISTINCT RED COLOR. Look for taxis painted in a shade of red and displaying the logo or name of the authorized cab company, such as Taxis Unidos, Taxis San Jose, or Taxis Aeropuerto. This color helps passengers easily identify and differentiate the authorized taxis from other vehicles or unauthorized taxis.

Average Cost for a Taxi Ride to Manuel Antonio

The average cost to take a taxi from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) to Manuel Antonio can range from $150 to $200, dependent on factors such as the time of day, traffic conditions, and the type of taxi service you choose. It’s always a good idea to confirm the fare with the taxi driver before starting the journey to avoid any surprises.

Shared Shuttles

Shared shuttles, also known as “collectivos,” are another public transportation option in Costa Rica. These vans or minibuses pick up passengers from designated locations in San Jose and provide transportation to Manuel Antonio.

Pros and Cons of Shared Shuttles

Taking a shared shuttle, typically in a comfortable shuttle van or shared minivan, to Manuel Antonio offers both advantages and considerations. The pros include cost-effectiveness, convenient pick-up and drop-off locations, and the opportunity to meet fellow travelers. However, shared shuttles may involve multiple stops, longer travel times, and the possibility of limited flexibility. Additionally, some shared shuttle routes may make special stops such as the Tarcoles River, allowing passengers to catch a glimpse of the renowned crocodile population.

Shared Shuttle Companies

It’s recommended to contact these shuttle companies directly or visit their websites to inquire about schedules, fares, and reservation procedures, as they may have updated information specific to your travel dates.

The Cost to Book a Shared Shuttles

The average cost to take a shared shuttle from San Jose to Manuel Antonio can range from $50 to $70 per person, depending on the season and other factors. Shared shuttles offer a more affordable transportation option compared to private transfers, while still providing comfort and convenience. It’s recommended to check with the specific shuttle business for their current rates and any additional fees that may apply.

Private Shuttle Service to Manuel Antonio from San Jose

Hiring a private shuttle from San José to Manuel Antonio is an excellent choice, especially for large groups. Private shuttle companies offer personalized and comfortable transportation, accommodating the specific needs of your party. While it may not be the cheapest option, it is undoubtedly the most convenient. Groups are encouraged to have their concierge arrange this transportation, ensuring a seamless and stress-free voyage to Manuel Antonio, allowing vacationers to immediately start their vacation on the right foot.

Benefits of Private Shuttles

Opting for a private shuttle service to Manuel Antonio from San Jose offers numerous advantages. Large groups can enjoy the comfort and convenience of traveling together, with spacious air conditioned private shuttles that accommodate their entire group. Private transportation allows for custom pick-up times and the flexibility to stop at scenic spots along the Pacific coast. Moreover, private shuttles will drop your large group directly at your Costa Rica beach villa, ensuring a seamless and hassle-free ride to get to Manuel Antonio.

How Many People Can Fit in A Shuttle?

Private shuttles are available in various sizes and can comfortably accommodate groups of up to 30 passengers, depending on the vehicle and seating configuration. When arranging shuttle transportation for your group, it’s recommended to rely on your concierge. They have the expertise to select professional transportation companies that can provide the appropriate capacity for your group, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable ride from San Jose to Manuel Antonio.

The Cost to Hire a Private Shuttle

Here are the one-way private shuttle transfer prices from San Jose to Manuel Antonio. Realize that if paying by credit card, an additional 13% will be added to the prices:

  • 1 – 2 people; $180
  • 3 – 5 people; $200
  • 6 – 8 people: $250
  • 9 – 12 people: $300
  • 13 – 16 people: $380
  • 17 – 24 people: $440

Rental Cars for San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Experience the freedom of self-driving by renting a car for an unforgettable drive from San Jose to Manuel Antonio Costa Rica. Taking the drive in a rental car, you can enjoy the scenic drive to Manuel Antonio at your own pace, exploring the captivating landscapes and cool spots along the way. With self-drive options to Manuel Antonio, you have the choice to go your own route and stop at hidden gems along the way and create a personalized drive itinerary.

Renting a Car in San Jose

Here is a list of popular car rental companies at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO):

These car rental companies are well-established and offer a wide range of vehicle options to choose from. It’s recommended to visit their websites or contact them directly for precise information on availability, rates, and any specific requirements you may have. If you intend to rent a car for the San Jose to Manuel Antonio drive only, some rental companies might mandate returning the vehicle in San Jose and not allow drop offs in Manuel Antonio. To clarify, reach out to each rental business for further details.

Average Cost to Rent a Car

The typical daily rate to rent a car from San Jose airport can vary due to factors such as the rental company, vehicle type, rental duration, and the time of year. On average, you can expect daily rates to range from $30 to $70 USD per day. However, it’s important to note that rates can be higher during peak travel seasons. Additionally, prices may vary among different car rental companies, so it’s advisable to check with specific rental agencies for their current rates and any additional fees that may apply.

The Best Routes to Get to Manuel Antonio

The best route to Manuel Antonio is to begin your ride on Route 27. Its the main road to get to Manuel Antonio and has s few toll booths along the highway. From route 27, you’ll then transition to Route 34, the picturesque coastal highway. This delightful combination is the quickest route, where you can savor every moment while relishing the breathtaking views along the stunning Pacific coast, a scenic drive to Manuel Antonio. Bring cash for the toll booths on route 27, Costa Rican Colones or US dollars are accepted.

Remember to bring cash for the toll roads. Both Costa Rican colones and US dollars are accepted at the toll booths you’ll encounter along route 27. Being prepared with the appropriate currency will help you easily navigate through the tolls and continue your drive without any delays.

Map with Directions from San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Scenic Mountain Drive

A scenic drive through lush landscapes and charming villages as you traverse Route 239 to Manuel Antonio. This gorgeous mountain drive offers a picturesque route, immersing you in the beauty of Costa Rica’s countryside. Enjoy the serenity of winding roads, breathtaking vistas, and a unique perspective of the region before arriving at the coastal paradise of Manuel Antonio. When encountering heavy traffic on Route 27, many travelers opt for Route 239 as the popular alternative route.

Flights: The Quickest Way to Get from San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Flight from San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Experience the utmost convenience by taking a flight from San Jose to Manuel Antonio. With regular domestic flights and private charter available, you can quickly reach your destination in a fraction of the time compared to other transportation options. Enjoy the stunning aerial views of Costa Rica’s landscape as you soar towards the coastal beauty of Manuel Antonio beach, ensuring a seamless and time-efficient flight to begin your unforgettable vacation.

Domestic Flights to Manuel Antonio from San Jose

Two prominent domestic airlines offering flights to Manuel Antonio from San Jose are Costa Rica Green Airways and Sansa Airlines. These reputable airlines provide convenient and reliable air travel options.

Flying Into Quepos Airport

When flying from San Jose, you will land at Quepos Airport, the closest airport to Manuel Antonio, offering convenient access to this coastal paradise. To get from Quepos Airport to Manuel Antonio, grab a taxi or have transportation scheduled upon your arrival for the short 15-minute ride to Manuel Antonio.

Cost of Flying to Manuel Antonio from San Jose

The average cost of flying from San Jose to Quepos on airlines such as Costa Rica Green Airways and Sansa Airlines can vary depending on factors such as the time of booking, seasonality, and availability. Prices for one-way flights typically range from approximately $80 to $150 USD per person.

Private Charter Flights

Indulge in the utmost convenience by booking a private charter flight from San Jose to Quepos where you determine the flight time. These planes have a maximum capacity of 12 passengers, ensuring an intimate and comfortable flight. Should all seats be occupied, a van will be required to transport your luggage separately, as the estimated weight allowance is 175 pounds per person, inclusive of personal belongings and baggage. For large groups such as 16 people, two planes will be required, but luggage should fit on each plane so no need to hire a van. For larger groups of 20-24 passengers flying in two planes, a van will be required to transport luggage. You can typically rely on a concierge to arrange everything.


Costa Rica’s enchanting beauty awaits you on the journey from San Jose to Manuel Antonio. Whether you opt for the budget friendly bus ride, the convenience of a private car, or the speed of a shuttle, there are transportation options to suit every traveler. For those seeking utmost comfort, flying from San Jose provides a quick and effortless way to reach Manuel Antonio. Once there, the wonders of Manuel Antonio National Park and beautiful beaches and beckon, inviting you to explore its lush landscapes and stunning coastline. So decide on your preferred mode of transport from San Jose to Manuel Antonio, stop and see crocodiles at the Tarcoles River, and get your vacation off to a running start in magnificent Manuel Antonio Costa Rica.


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