We had a glorious few days in Quepos and Manuel Antonio, enjoying the coast and the National Park as well as the local life in Quepos. And then it was time to move on to our next Costa Rica adventure, La Fortuna and the neighboring stunning area of Arenal Volcano and National Park. The volcano has been dormant since December 2010 and is a stunning area to visit. The National Park includes Arenal Lake, which is available for some watersports. And the route from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna and Arenal is popular, but transport options are a little limited. This can be an easy journey, or it can be a long and all-day trip, the choice is yours! So here are the different methods of transport to go from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna, how long they take, how much they cost, and what your choices are. Here’s our guide on how to get to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio.
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BEST WAY TO TRAVEL
Depending on where you are staying in the Manuel Antonio area, will probably influence how you plan to go from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna. There are public buses available to La Fortuna, but they leave from Quepos (where we stayed) and they require a transfer in Puntarenas, and then again in San Ramon, which makes for a full day of long hot and sweaty travel, which I’ll cover. The easiest way to go from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna is to take a shared shuttle, which takes you from your accommodation in Manuel Antonio to your hotel in La Fortuna, and I’ll also cover that.
La Fortuna is 220 kilometers (137 miles) from Manuel Antonio, road transport to La Fortuna will take around 4-5 hours for a shared shuttle, or you can take about 5-6 hours to take an indirect bus to get here via Puntarenas. Whichever way you decide to get to Arenal and La Fortuna our guide to the area is here.
How to Go from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna – Transport Options
In this guide on how to go from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna, we’ll cover the fastest way to travel from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna, the most convenient way to go to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio, and the cheapest way to get to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio.
You can rent a car and drive to La Fortuna, take a private transfer, or a shared shuttle, or take a super cheap series of buses from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna.
How to get to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio
There are several ways that you can travel to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio, the most convenient way is to either rent a car and drive, or to take a private transfer. The next most convenient way is to take a shared shuttle, which includes pickup from your hotel in Manuel Antonio and drop off at where you are staying in La Fortuna. After that, you can take a set of buses from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna, which is the cheapest way to travel.
We’ll go through the options in order of convenience. If you’re looking for the cheapest way to do this route skip further down, and prepare for a day of four buses and connections. And yes, it was 35 degrees in Puntarenas when we did this trip. I don’t recommend it.
Taking a private taxi to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio is the fastest way to go to La Fortuna, as you’ll get transported from your hotel in Manuel Antonio to your hotel in La Fortuna. If there are 3 or more of you, this is likely a really good deal. This is the most comfortable and convenient way to travel from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna. You can check prices for Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna taxis here.
Driving from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna
If you decide to drive from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna, then the most direct route is about 220 kilometers (137 miles) and it will take you about 5.5 hours.
There are several options for renting a car in Costa Rica. We recommend using Discover Cars to get quotes from all the big names and select the one that best suits you.
When driving in Costa Rica, it’s always best, especially on roads like this, which have some windy sections, to drive during daytime hours. The sunsets are usually at around 18:00, so you’ll want to plan to be done by then.
Most people who travel to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio will take a shared shuttle and there are 2 of these each day scheduled and run by different companies. The first shared shuttle leaves Manuel Antonio at 08:00 and the last shuttle to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio leaves at 14:00
Shared shuttles usually take about 5 hours to go from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna. Book a shared minivan from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna here.
While you’ll be in shared transport on this way to go to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio, it will pick you up at your hotel and it will drop you off at your accommodation in La Fortuna.
Bus from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna
This is the cheapest way to go to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio. It involves 3 or four buses, and luck in catching the connections. I’ve included all the up-to-date links with the schedules and the fares. To do this trip on public buses we left Quepos at 07:30 and arrived in La Fortuna just before 15:00. We caught all the connections that we were trying to, and were lucky in that. You’ll need to look at the map as the arriving bus and departing bus in Puntarenas leave from slightly different places.
Bus from Manuel Antonio to Quepos
You’ll first need to take the bus from Manuel Antonio to Quepos. These buses run every 20 minutes or so during the day and are run by Transportes Herosuma FD S.A. If you’re staying in Quepos, then you don’t need this option.
Bus from Quepos to Puntarenas
There are 8 buses a day from Quepos to Puntarenas, the first bus is at 04:30 and the last bus is at 18:00. The cost of the bus from Quepos to Puntarenas is 2630 CRC. The bus from Quepos to Puntarenas takes 3 hours.
If you want to get to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio during the day, then you’ll need to catch the earlier buses. We caught the 07:30 bus and got to La Fortuna by 15:00.
The schedule of buses from Quepos to Puntarenas is here. You CANNOT book these buses online you buy the tickets in cash at the bus station, or on the bus.
Bus from Puntarenas to San Ramon
We arrived in Puntarenas at 10:30. We then took a bus at 11:00 from Puntarenas to San Ramon, with Empresarios Unidos. This took about an hour. Then we needed to find the bus from San Ramon to La Fortuna. The buses run every hour.
Bus from San Ramon to La Fortuna
We arrived in San Ramon at noon. Ever get the feeling that this is a somewhat tortuous journey? It was. Our bus from San Ramon to La Fortuna left at 12:30. This was our final bus of the day, and it took 2 and a bit hours to go from San Ramon to La Fortuna. The bus is run by Carbachez and their schedule and details are here.
You CANNOT prebook ANY of these buses, you have to turn up and buy a ticket at the ticket counter or on the buses themselves, in cash. If your trip to La Fortuna is time sensitive, then either pre-book a shuttle bus or try to get to the terminal EARLY to guarantee a seat on the bus.
Map for Buses from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna
You can see the full map of Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna here.
The quickest way to get from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna
The quickest way to get to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio is to take a private transfer. It takes about 3 to 4 hours to go to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio from door to door and you can book a taxi from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna here.
The cheapest way to go from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna
The cheapest way to get to La Fortuna from Manuel Antonio is to take the series of public buses that I’ve described above. And yes we have done this route. You can’t pre-book these buses, but it’s a super, super cheap way to travel and it will take you most of the day. You’ll want to ensure that you’re on the 07:30 bus at the latest to make connections and to ensure you get to La Fortuna in the day.
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- Book accommodation in Costa Rica with Booking.com
Popular Routes Around Costa Rica
Here are our guides to some of the popular routes around Costa Rica.
- How to go from La Fortuna to Monteverde
- How to go from Monteverde to Nicaragua
- How to get from SJO Airport to San Jose
- How to go from San Jose to Manuel Antonio
- How to go from San Jose to Tamarindo
- How to go from Puerto Viejo to Cahuita
- How to go from San Jose to Jaco
- How to go from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna
- How to go from San Jose to Puerto Viejo
- How to go from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero
- How to go from San Jose to La Fortuna
Final Words on How to Go from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna
The public buses that run this route might be super cheap, but it will take you all day to go from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna. And we did it on a 35-degree day. I don’t recommend it. It’s much more sensible to take a shuttle (or drive). If you plan to do the public buses, then you’ll want to make sure that you’re on your way by 07:30 to make the connections.
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