If you’re coming from San Jose and are planning to visit Montezuma, Tambor, Santa Teresa, Malpaís, Paquera or any beach on the Nicoya Peninsula, taking the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera is one of the best options for transportation. It will save a lot of time compared to driving all the way around to the peninsula and the views are beautiful.
In this article, you will learn exactly how to take this ferry. We’ll give step by step instructions for buying tickets, how to cross with a car or by foot and how long the ferry is. There is also an instructional video at this end of this post.
**This post has been updated as of February 2019***
Taking the Ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera
Since 1992, Naviera Tambor has been in charge of operating this route of 11 nautical miles that connects Puntarenas from Paquera. They have 2 big ferries that can hold up to 175 average sized cars and more than 1000 passengers. These ferries are named Ferry Tambor II and Tambor III and they have done an excellent job so far.
The ferry is first come first serve so it will be good to know how the process works for a stress free ferry ride.
Click on the section below to skip to it.
- Puntarenas Ferry Location
- The route
- The schedule
- Buying tickets
- If you have a car
- Foot passenger
- The ferry ride
- Getting off the ferry at Paquera
- Puntarenas ferry video
- Naranjo ferry
Puntarenas Ferry Location
The Puntarenas ferry is at the very end of “Paseo de los Turistas,” the main road that goes through Puntarenas town. You will go past the lighthouse and on the left hand side, you will see the ferry and the docks.
If you’re driving from San Jose, the drive is very easy and is about 2 hours.
This is the ferry route from the Puntarenas ferry to Paquera.
Puntarenas Paquera Ferry Schedule and Ticket Prices
Here is the schedule for the ferry from Puntarena to Paquera and vice versa as well as ticket prices. Prices are quoted in Costa Rican currency.
Buying the ticket
***You can now purchase tickets online at the Quickpay CR website. (This is the company’s website, we are not associated or are affiliated with them. This is purely for information. Please contact them if you have any questions). They only sell Puntarenas – Paquera tickets. Website is in Spanish but you can install the Google Translator to translate it. Do note that they only sell a certain number of tickets online so if it says sold out for your dates, the allotted amount of online tickets are sold out and you will have to purchase them at the dock in person. Make sure to arrive at least 1 hour early at the ferry during holidays and December – April and July. For car rentals, they’ll ask for your license but you can put in rental car***
To purchase your ticket, you will need to go to the ticket office across the street from the ferry dock. It’s on the right hand side and you can’t miss it, there’s a large blue sign that says “BOLETERIA.”
When we took the 2 pm ferry, the ticket office didn’t open until 12:45 PM since the workers were on lunch but for other times, the ticket office will be open.
Tell the cashier how many adults and children and if you have a car. I bought tickets for me, Yeison and our car so I told the lady “Dos adultos y un carro por favor.”
Prices are quoted in Costa Rican colones so you need to pay in colones. They will have change but colones only. They will give you two pieces of paper per ticket, a green and white one. Hold onto both because you will need to give the green ticket to the ferry officer as you board. If you have a car, they will put the car and the driver on one ticket.
Taking the ferry with a car
If you have a car, you will need to drive onto the car loading area by the dock. They have drawn lines and there is an officer there that will tell you where to go to wait in line. Once you park in the waiting area, the attendant will hand you a ticket which you need to present to the ticket office when purchasing tickets.
Remember, the ferry is first come first serve so if you have a car, we recommend getting there at least an hour early, especially in high season. When we took the ferry in February, we arrived at 12 PM and there were already cars waiting in line.
Once you park your car and buy your tickets, you can get food, hang out and wait around the dock area. The loading time starts about 45 minutes before departure so make sure you are close to the car around that time. There is a loud speaker that will announce when it’s time to load the ferry and it is in English and Spanish.
If you’re renting a car, make sure to check out our special car rental discount and extra benefits!
If you are a foot passenger
For those traveling without a car, the process is the same. If you’re arriving by bus, you will get off the bus right at the ferry ticket office.
Purchase tickets (at least 30 minutes before) and hang onto your tickets. There is a nice waiting area under a large white tarp in the dock loading area (you can see in the photo above).
Inside the ferry, you can find everything you need to be comfortable. They have bathrooms, a cafeteria that sells snacks, food, water, coffee and drinks, air conditioning and flat screen TVs.
There are open areas on the top deck with benches so you can enjoy the ocean breeze. All announcements and information are announced when they are about to depart and when they are about to arrive (in Spanish and English).
The ferry ride from Puntarenas to Paquera is just a little over an hour, about one hour and ten minutes. You will cruise through the Gulf of Nicoya and the views are beautiful. You’ll see a few islands and other boats.
Getting off the ferry
When the ferry is close to Paquera, you will hear an announcement for drivers to get into their cars. Once the ferry is docked, foot passengers will get off first and then cars.
Once you get off, you can take a taxi (lots of taxis waiting), take the bus or if you have a car, drive to your next destination. There are buses from Paquera to Cobano, Montezuma and Santa Teresa.
The bus from Paquera to Montezuma and Santa Teresa is at 6:15, 8:15, 10:15, 12:15, 3:15 PM, 4:30 PM and 6:15 PM.
Puntarenas Paquera Ferry Video
Watch a video of us taking the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera below. You’ll see where the ticket office is, what the ferry is like and how the roads are.
If you are taking the Puntarenas ferry to Naranjo, the process is the same (same location) to board. The ticket office is not the same, it’s a little bit down the street from the Paquera ferry and the loading area is right next to the Paquera dock. Here is the schedule and prices.
Take the Naranjo Ferry from Puntarenas is you plan to go to Playa Naranjo or to Samara since this will bring you to the paved road of the north part of the Nicoya Peninsula. You can now purchase tickets online for the Naranjo Ferry here. (This is the ferry website, we aren’t associated with them. Please contact them if you have any questions).
If you’re in Puntarenas for a day or two, you can take the Tortuga Island cruise which departs from Puntarenas. Read our experience of the Isla Tortuga cruise and get $10 off the tour here!
More posts on how to get around Costa Rica