You’ll find the beach and surf town of Tamarindo in the province of Guanacaste, about 5 hours (by car) from San Jose. There’s warm weather, great beaches, and gloriously clean blue water here. Tamarindo has a great international vibe and is beloved by travelers from around the world and because many come here directly from Costa Rica’s capital there are a variety of transport options available. This guide covers whether you’re going from San Jose to Tamarindo or Tamarindo to San Jose. We cover the best way to go from San Jose to Tamarindo, as well as the different options for traveling to Tamarindo from San Jose Here’s our guide on how to get to Tamarindo from San Jose.
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BEST WAY TO TRAVEL
Where is Tamarindo
Tamarindo is about 5 hours drive from Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose. By road, it’s about 260 kilometers (161 miles) from San Jose, if you decide to fly from San Jose to Tamarindo it’s just under 200 kilometers (124 miles). Tamarindo is on the Nicoya peninsular of Costa Rica.
How to Go from San Jose to Tamarindo – Transport Options
In this guide on how to go from San Jose to Tamarindo, we’ll cover the fastest way to travel go from San Jose to Tamarindo, the easiest way to go to Tamarindo from San Jose, and the cheapest way to get to Tamarindo from San Jose. Just about the only way you can’t get to Tamarindo is by train, but all other options are on the table! Our guide on the best things to do in Tamarindo is here.
How to get to Tamarindo from San Jose
For transport from Tamarindo to San Jose, then you have several options. Firstly, and the most popular, you can rent a car and drive. You can fly from San Jose to Tamarindo, which is the quickest (even with flight check-in and transfer times). You can take a private transfer to Tamarindo from San Jose, a large bus, or a shuttle. There are lots of options to choose from. Let’s start with the most popular. Driving
Renting a Car and Driving from San Jose to Tamarindo
If you’re planning on driving, then you’ll want to plan your route so that you’re driving during daylight. Expect dusk in Costa Rica at around 17:30 all year round. In Costa Rica, we recommend using Discover Cars to get a quote for all the major providers. It will take you around 5 hours to drive from San Jose to Tamarindo.
It’s a pretty easy drive to Tamarindo from San Jose, you don’t need a 4×4 for this route, and about 50% of it is on straight highways and the other 50% has a few windy bits. Most visitors do NOT need an international driver’s license to drive in Costa Rica – check what you need to do before you arrive in Costa Rica here.
Private Transfer from San Jose to Tamarindo
If you’re in a group, then a private transfer will often be more cost-effective than several tickets in a shared shuttle, so compare to the price for a San Jose to Tamarindo shared shuttle. You can get vans for up to 18 people, so check and see if it’s worth it for you.
This is one of the quickest ways to go from San Jose to Tamarindo and you’ll be picked up from your accommodation in San Jose – or at the airport and dropped off at your accommodation in Tamarindo. This is a REALLY easy way to go to Tamarindo from San Jose.
Take the Bus from San Jose to Tamarindo – the cheapest way to travel
The cheapest way to go from San Jose to Tamarindo is to take the bus. This is also the way that takes the longest! You can either head to the bus station and buy a ticket, or make it easy for yourself and buy the tickets online and just use an eticket.
The bus from San Jose to Tamarindo is scheduled to take 6 hours. (It usually does, but it’s not going to be shorter than that and it could be a little bit longer). The buses that you can book online are with the company Transporte Inteligente Guanacaste and they leave from the San Jose terminal – it’s marked on our map to make it easy for you to find.
Transporte Inteligente Guanacaste has two buses each day that go to Tamarindo from San Jose – they leave San Jose at 11:30 and 16:00. Both of these buses take 6 hours to get to Tamarindo. In Tamarindo, they arrive at the Tamarindo Pacific Park terminal, which we’ve also marked on the map.
- Book the 11:30 bus from San Jose to Tamarindo here
- Book the 16:00 bus from San Jose to Tamarindo here
You can also take the Alfaro bus from San Jose to Tamarindo. This company departs San Jose twice a day, at 11:30 and 15:30 from the Alfaro San Jose Terminal (we’ve marked it on the map for you) and this is the cheapest way to go to Tamarindo from San Jose and tickets cost US$10. However, you can’t book these tickets online, so you’ll need to buy the tickets from the bus station.
Flying from San Jose to Tamarindo
The fastest way to go to Tamarindo from San Jose is to Fly. Flights from San Jose to Tamarindo take about 50 minutes, and even with the check-in time, you’ll just be quicker than either driving or a shuttle or private transfer.
You’ll first need to go from your hotel in San Jose to the San Jose International Airport (SJO), which is 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) from the capital. It’ll take you about 30 minutes in a taxi or private transfer, and about 40 minutes on the bus, both depending on traffic. I wrote about the SJO Airport Bus here.
It’s a 50-minute flight from SJO to Tamarindo – and there are two flights a day – usually at 05:40 and 13:30.
Once you arrive at the airport in Tamarindo, you’ll need to take a taxi (there’s no bus service, but it’s a short distance). The airport at Tamarindo is about 10 minutes by taxi, the distance is around 5 kilometers (3 miles).
This is the most popular way to go from San Jose to Tamarindo and shared shuttles include pick up from your hotel in San Jose and drop off at your accommodations in Tamarindo. These shared shuttles take about 5 hours and you have a choice of departure times. These shuttles do book up quickly, so you’ll want to select your preferred options asap and book it. 2 companies run this route and they depart at different times.
07:00 Interbus San Jose to Tamarindo Shuttle > Book tickets here
08:00 Paradise Shuttle San Jose to Tamarindo > Book tickets here
08:45 Paradise Shuttle San Jose to Tamarindo > Book tickets here
Taxi from San Jose to Tamarindo
Taking a private taxi to Tamarindo from San Jose is one of the fastest ways to go to Tamarindo. It is the most comfortable way to travel. You can check prices for San Jose to Tamarindo taxis here.
Map of Bus Stops for going from San Jose to Tamarindo
You can see the full map of transport options from San Jose to Tamarindo here.
The quickest way to get from San Jose to Tamarindo
The quickest way to go from San Jose to Tamarindo is to take a private transfer, your second quickest route is to fly. It takes about 5 hours to get to Tamarindo from San Jose and you can book a private transfer from San Jose to Tamarindo here.
The easiest way to go to Tamarindo from San Jose
The easiest way to get from San Jose to Tamarindo is to get a door-to-door transfer, with either a private transfer or a shared shuttle. Compare the prices here.
The cheapest way to go from San Jose to Tamarindo
The cheapest way to get to Tamarindo from San Jose is to take the bus– while you can’t buy tickets online for the cheapest bus, you can reserve your seats on the next cheapest option.
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
Travel Tips for Exploring Costa Rica
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
- Arriving by air? Arrange your airport transfer with Welcome Pickups.
- Make sure you have the right plug adapter for Costa Rica.
- Book the best Costa Rica tours and guides on GetYourGuideand Civitatis
- Save money in Costa Rica with a Wise debit card
- Book Buses in Costa Rica with Bookaway
- Book accommodation in Costa Rica with Booking.com
Final Words on How to Go from San Jose to Tamarindo
Getting to Tamarindo from San Jose is easy, you just need to decide how quickly you want to get there and how little hassle you want on the trip. You can get to Tamarindo from San Jose for as little as US$10, but there are a couple of bus stations involved in that. Taking a shared shuttle is a great middle-of-the-road option that will get you to Tamarindo in comfort and also in a timely fashion.
Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.
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