The best way to hit the trail from the Costa Rican capital to the Caribbean coast is by taking a shared shuttle. The 135-mile (217 km) drive from San José to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca goes right through the mountains, and having a driver makes it easy to gaze at the beautiful vistas without any worries of foggy, winding roads or getting lost. Private transfer upgrades the convenience by allowing you to leave and stop whenever you want, and chat with an English speaking driver about the sights and Costa Rica along the way.
Renting a car and driving is another option for the traveler who prefers their own timetable and to have a car in Puerto Viejo and for the rest of their vacation. You also have the option of flying into Limón and taking a shuttle the remainder of the trip, about 45 minutes. For the adventurous spirits, there is a whitewater rafting tour down the Pacuare River into Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
By Shared Shuttle
Duration: 5 hours
If you're traveling alone or as a couple, a shared shuttle is an economical, convenient option. You may have to wait for other passengers to be picked up and dropped off, but you'll still have an easy and enjoyable ride. The shuttle will pick you up from the airport or your hotel and take you directly to your next destination in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 4.5 hours
If you decide on a private transfer, you will have a car and English speaking driver all to yourself. You will have door-to-door service with a car picking you up in San José wherever you'd like, and dropping you off at your next hotel. You can stop whenever you'd like to eat or for a restroom break. A private transfer is more expensive than a shared shuttle, but the price is per party, not per person. So with a larger party, it can be as affordable as a shared shuttle.
By Rental Car
Duration: 4.5 hours
Renting a car and driving has some advantages. You have the convenience of traveling on your own schedule and exploring the beaches and restaurants whenever you'd like. You will take Route 32 towards Limón, then head south on Route 241. This connects with Route 36 which you'll take all the way into Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
It should be noted however that many people find that they don't really need a car once they're in Purto Viejo de Talamanca. It's easy to rent bicycles to bike around the village and taxis are affordable and readily available.
We always advise 4X4 vehicles while driving in Costa Rica, and only driving during daylight hours (before 6:00 pm). When driving near the border, which you will be in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, you may encounter routine police checkpoints, so have your passport available.
By Plane and Shuttle
Duration: 1.5 hours
Flying into Limón then taking a shuttle into Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is the most expensive but speediest option. A 40-minute flight gets you from San José to Limón, where a driver will be waiting to shuttle you the last 45 minutes to your hotel.
By Whitewater Rafting Trip
Duration: 11 hours
The daring traveler may enjoy an adventure tour plus transportation all rolled into one. Your guide will pick you up at the airport and drive you to the Pacuare River where after a safety briefing you'll enjoy unsurpassed views, wildlife spotting, waterfalls, gorges, and class 2-3 rapids on a trip down the river to Siquirres. At the end of the river trip, you will be driven (along with your luggage) to your hotel.