As Monteverde is one of the most popular destinations in the country, we get these questions all the time. Is the road to Monteverde paved, how far is San Jose Airport to Monteverde and do I really need a 4×4 for Monteverde?
For those who are renting a car in Costa Rica and plan on visiting Monteverde, this post will go over the Monteverde road conditions and how to get to Monteverde. Y
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Do You Need a 4×4 for Monteverde?
So to answer your question Do I really need a 4×4 to get to Monteverde? Well, it depends. Here are our thoughts about the kind of car you should rent for Monteverde. This is coming from a Costa Rican man who is very used to driving rural roads and a woman from the US who is not. And as always, safety is our number one priority for our readers.
There are two main routes to Monteverde: Route 145 and Route 606. For both of these routes, you don’t necessarily need a 4wd or 4×4, even a 4×2 SUV with high clearance will work.
One of the routes to Monteverde, Route 606, is now fully asphalted all the way to downtown Santa Elena (the main town of Monteverde). Therefore, if you are taking Route 606 and your hotel is in downtown and right off the main road, you can drive a sedan to Monteverde, particularly in dry season.
However, if you plan to explore, drive yourself to the parks and reserves or are staying at a hotel or vacation rental outside of Santa Elena downtown, then it is highly recommended to have a high clearance car with a stronger engine.
Keep in mind though that we always recommend to ask your host to see what kind of car is required to reach the property.
If You Drive to Monteverde in a Normal Car
If your hotel in in the town center and you rented a normal car like a sedan, then you can park your car at your hotel and take the public buses, taxis or transportation to the adventure parks and reserves. Then you can walk to town to restaurants, stores, etc.
Many parks such as Selvatura Park offer transportation and there are taxis and the local shuttle to the reserves throughout Monteverde.
Using GPS and the Best Routes to Take to Monteverde
The two best routes for Monteverde is Route 145 and Route 606 (I will talk in depth about both routes below).
If you use a GPS device (rented through your car rental or using one of the GPS apps), enter the name of your hotel as your final destination. Then check to see which route your GPS will take you to Monteverde.
If you use Google Maps or Waze, they will take you to the “fastest” or closest route. Of all the routes to Monteverde, we do not recommend to take Route 605 (it’s not a nice road). Route 145 and Route 606 are the best routes to take to Monteverde.
Driving from San Jose to Monteverde (Route 606)
If you are driving from San Jose Airport to Monteverde, the best route to take is Route 27, 23, Interamericana highway 1 and then Route 606. This route takes around 3.5 hours depending on traffic. The distance from San Jose Airport to Monteverde is 133 kilometers, or 83 miles via Route 606. This entire route from San Jose Airport to Monteverde is now paved.
Here is the route on Google Maps. Remember that Santa Elena is the name of the main town and tourism hub of Monteverde. You will see lots of signs for Santa Elena.
Route 606 Road Conditions (Sardinal)
Route 606 from San Jose is a fairly straightforward route. Head onto Route 27 Highway and continue for about 107 kilometers (66 miles). You’ll merge onto InterAmericana highway 1 a little past Puntarenas. This is a paved road and takes around 1.5 hours (depending on traffic).
Then you will turn right onto Route 606 Costa Rica, the route to Monteverde via Sardinal. You will see a gas station on your right and a huge billboard for Sky Trek/Adventures.
Drive onto this road for about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) and turn left. There are plenty of signs for Sardinal and Monteverde so you know you’re going the right way.
After about 17 kilometers (10.5miles), turn right at this sign to continue onto Route 606 to Santa Elena.
Turn left when you see this sign and continue up the mountain to Monteverde!
The gravel road is now asphalt
At this part, it used to be a gravel road but they asphalted it over late 2019 so it’s in MUCH better condition now! There are some pot holes here and there but it’s finally all asphalted over.
Here are some photos.
You’re still going up a mountain on a narrow road with no physical barrier so drive slow, take your time and don’t stress out. If you get caught behind one of the big trucks, just take it slow.
As it’s asphalted over, a sedan or SUV can make it up this hill as long as the engine is strong enough (and the car isn’t crazy packed heavy). The Route 606 is asphalted all the way until downtown Santa Teresa and then ends there.
Now I’ll talk about Route 145!
Driving from Guanacaste to Monteverde – Route 145 (Las Juntas)
If you are driving from Guanacaste (Liberia, Tamarindo, Playas del Coco, Samara, Gulf of Papagayo, Conchal) to Monteverde, then the closest route is Route 145, Las Juntas. It takes around 3.5 hours with a mix of gravel and concrete roads. Route 145 is very narrow and windy. Below are the road conditions for Route 145.
Las Juntas Road Conditions Route 145
This route is very narrow, curvy and windy with concrete and gravel roads. It goes from gravel to concrete many times throughout the entire route. Trailer trucks, public buses and shuttles use this route.
Coming from Guanacaste, Las Juntas is the turn off a couple kilometers (~1 mile) after the Restaurant Tres Hermanas (where the big bull is) at the Limonal Plaza. Turn left.
You will continue on this road for 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) and drive through the town of Las Juntas and continue up towards Monteverde, passing small towns like Eco Museo, Canderlaria and Campos de Oro.
As it’s a rural area, you may run into some unusual traffic.
Our Experience with Route 145
Route 145 has beautiful scenery. However, the drive can be harrowing if you have never driven on unpaved roads or narrow mountain roads before. As always, the key is going slow.
A high clearance car is definitely recommended for Route 145, especially in rainy season. In rainy season, it will be best with a 4wd since it can be slippery on the concrete sections.
There are also a lot of trailer trucks and construction trucks on this route so you may need to pass them very closely.
This route also has a ton of big potholes and there are no guard rails either.
You can see the route in our video below.
From Santa Elena, go to soccer field/school and continue on the bumpy road towards Xtremo and Don Juan Tours. You will then continue until a slight left to Route 145 (signs for Las Juntas) and continue on that road.
Driving from La Fortuna to Monteverde
If you are driving from La Fortuna to Monteverde, the best route to take is Route 142 around Lake Arenal towards Tilaran, Route 145 Las Juntas and then Route 606 Sardinal. This route has a mix of concrete and gravel roads, taking around 3 to 3.5 hours. Here is the map below.
A high clearance car is also recommended, especially in rainy season. Enjoy the drive and as always, go slow.
Santa Elena and Monteverde Road Conditions
Santa Elena town itself has paved roads and ends where the El Establo Hotel is. That road continues on to the Monteverde cloud forest reserves, San Luis town and Curi Cancha Reserve and is unpaved after the CPI Spanish School.
The road to Sky Adventures, Selvatura Park, Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena and Vista Verde Lodge are unpaved and go up hills so it’s steep.
We stayed at 2 Airbnbs in Monteverde that had awful roads. Awful. Like hitting your head on top of the car awful. These roads are the way to Finca Modelo and a neighborhood past the Santa Elena cemetery (Valle Bonito).
If you are wondering which route is best to take to Monteverde, Route 145 and Route 606 are both doable. Both are curvy and narrow roads so for that reason, you will see that 99% of the rental cars are SUVs. Driving slow, driving during daylight and not stressing out are the keys to a pleasant drive to Monteverde.
Route 145 is closer to those coming from or going to Guanacaste, Route 606 is closer to those coming from or going to San Jose.
When it comes down to it, a 4wd or high clearance car is the safest option to get to Monteverde if you want to explore and drive yourself around. If you are staying at a hotel right in downtown or right off the main road, take Route 606 to Monteverde, park your car at the hotel, take taxis or and you can get there in a sedan.
We do not recommend driving the sedan outside of the paved roads as it will have a hard time going up the steep mountain roads if you go outside of the Santa Elena town center and it will be easier to damage the car for all the potholes.
Additional Tips for Driving to Monteverde
- We do not recommend driving to Monteverde late at night, especially in rainy season. All routes are very curvy with no guard rails or street lights. Remember it gets dark by 6 PM everyday in Costa Rica! If your flight arrives in the evening, it is better to stay a night in San Jose/Liberia.
- Drive slow, take your time. Don’t pass if you’re not comfortable. You will run into some buses or trucks that are super slow.
- If you get car sick, take anti-nausea medicine! I get car sick easily and got fairly dizzy on Route 145.
- For more driving tips, you can read our in-depth Costa Rica driving guide.
Check out our Costa Rica car rental discount and also get our extra benefits!
Wondering about the best roads to take for two legs of a trip in the month of June: 1) Liberia to Monteverde. 2) Monteverde to Nosara. Thanks!
Hi Marie, you can use Waze as your navigation, those are two very common routes
Brian Vernaglia says
You helped us rent a 4×4 for our trip in August. On the last day we will be leaving Monteverde and headed for Liberia. But our flight was changed from 4PM to 1PM. How long should we count on the trip from Monteverde to Liberia airport?
Hello Brian, we have already answered you via email, thanks! Please check over the last communication and confirmation to make sure everything is correct
We JUST drove from Tamarindo to Monte Verde Sky Adventures on 3/12/2023. We used a 12 passenger diesel Hyundai bus. We left Sunday morning at 4am and got there by 7am with not stops. The roads were all paved until the last bit in the mountains. Here is what 30/70 unpaved/paved but plenty of potholes in both. A 4×4 wasn’t required but higher clearance was in some places. Also, there were a few very steep roads and the diesel engine was helpful. Overall it was an easier trip than I had imagined and well worth it though I did suffer pretty severe motion sickness yesterday. If you are prone definitely take something beforehand. Pura Vida!
Planning to visit costa rica in April 2023 , coming to san Jose airport – visiting La Fortuna, Rio Celesta, Monteverde and Manuel Antonio. Do we need 4×4? or regular Sedan is fine?
Please suggest route from Rio celeste to Monteverde,
Also planning to drive from Monteverde to Manuel antonio in the evenig after 4 pm.
Hello Samuel, we sent you an email with more information a few days ago!
We are coming the end of January and have 3 nights we want to venture to of San Jose. We are thinking about going to Monteverde for 1 night (do the cloud forest and zip lining) and then to Tamarindo for 2 nights. Our other option is all 3 nights in Puerto Viejo, but I’m worried the weather might not be the best on the Carribean side. What can we expect for driving time if we go from San Jose to Monteverde (I believe I saw 4 hours?) and then Monteverde to Taramindo, how long is that drive and how long is the drive from Taramindo back to San Jose? Puerto Viejo I believe I read is 4.5 hours from San Jose. Any recommendations in terms of which of the 2 options to do. This is our 1st time in CR. BTW…love your blog!!
Hello Maura, you can check the route times on Google maps or Waze, I do recommend adding at least an hour to each route for a bit more accurate times.
We are in LA Fortuna today Feb 11, 2023 and plan on driving to monteverde tomorrow. How are the road conditions? We are driving a 4×4 vehicle.
Should be a nice drive, enjoy.
What a great blog is this? Wow I wish I had found it earlier 🙂
We’ll be going to CR in May next year and are currently planning the route for 3.5 weeks.
We’ll be arriving in San Jose, going all the way down to Sierpe for Drake Bay, coming back up for Monteverde, going to the beach at Samara or Tamarindo and back to Arenal and La Fortuna and then also travelling over to Tortuguero before going back home.
Would you also recommend renting a 4×4 for this journey through Monteverde and Arenal? Or is there a way around the rural areas to stick to a normal car?
Thanks so much in advance. All the best for you!
If you stay on Route 606 to and out of Monteverde and don’t book any hotels that require a 4wd, you won’t really need one (a high clearance car would be best). In Monteverde, the parks like Selvatura Park or Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve offer their own transportation/have a shuttle so you can take their transportation instead of driving.
Hi, we’re flying in Liberia and planning to drive to Monteverde. What is the road like to Monteverde coming from Liberia? We’re planning to rent a 4×4 Suzuki Jimny.
Hi, you can check the route details here: Monteverde road conditions.
We are flying into Liberia and then going to the La Fortuna and Monte Verde areas before heading south to Quepos. We will be renting an SUV. I am wondering, is it better to go to La Fortuna or Monte Verde first before heading south? What are the best routes?
From Liberia you can do either, Monteverde is a bit closer to Quepos around 3.5 hours, La Fortuna is around 5 hours to Quepos so you could do la Fortuna first, then Monteverde for a shorter drive to Quepo
Thank you so much for all the information! We are planning a trip from SJO to Monteverde in June. We plan to use a private transfer service. I am a very nervous passenger and just wondering if it is typically a safe trip with a private driver? Is there a high incident of serious accidents on this road with the steep cliffs and no guardrails? We will leave the San Jose area around 9am. Worried about rain and fog during that time of the year/time of day as well. Thanks so much.
If you book with a licensed, reputable transfer company, all their drivers should be completely insured with the correct permits and licenses to operate a tourism vehicle – they should be professional drivers with experience. You should ask the company you booked with if they have all the licenses and insurances
Shannon Jorgensen says
We just did the drive from La Fortuna to Monteverde (142 to Tilaran, then the 145, then the 606). It was BEAUTIFUL! The newly paved road is SWEET and the views are astounding. Now that the 142 is paved, you do NOT need to worry about the first half of the trip. The “dirt road” that followed was great – it was a hard packed dirt road with a few potholes, but honestly a LOT better than we expected (and much better than other parts of Costa Rica that we experienced which had softer dirt and more potholes). Note: we went during March 2022 (dry season) in an SUV. It was nice to be high off the road (I’m not sure you’d enjoy driving in Costa Rica in general in a smaller, lower car). Don’t worry about this drive – take it slowly and you’ll be fine.
NOTE: if leaving Monteverde to go to Liberia, do NOT, I repeat… do NOT take the 926. THAT was a treacherous dirt road that went through the middle of nowhere. Take any other route!
We love your guides. They are SO helpful. Thank you.
We are currently in Monteverde and going next to Guanacaste. We have a rental 4×4 Hyundai. I see can drive through Las Juntas or Tilaran. (Or go back down through Guacimal) but I would like to try a different route.
Which route is more scenic? Las Juntas or Tilaran? Or are they both beautiful? (Of course they are, this is Costa Rica, but which would you choose?). And how long would you allow to get to Hacienda Guachipelin?
Thank you so much.
I’d go with Las Juntas personally, you can use a GPS like google Maps/Waze to guide you and see how long it’ll take
Thanks very much Sammi.
I had a question regarding my prospective plan to visit Monteverde. We’ll be staying close to Brasilito for a week and on one of the days I wanted to wake up and leave at 4:30-5am to drive to Monteverde (rented a 4×4 suv), visit the park, have lunch along the way, and then drive back. I understand some of the driving would be at night. Would this be advisable? Understanding that it’s an awful lot of driving for a day. Thanks in advance!
I would recommend to stay a night in Monteverde instead, I do not recommend driving down that mountain at night!
We are traveling from Tamarindo to Monteverde, it appears we will be taking route 145, will this route come up on our waze app? Also, we will be driving this in a sedan, is this fine in the dry season? Jan 27-Feb 6.
If you have a sedan, I would take Route 606, that road is in better shape. Then also make sure to check your hotels and places you want to go in Monteverde as some of them do require a high clearance car
This is such an awesome tutorial of the roads! Thank you! I have a question regarding rental cars. I am a horrible driver because I get extremely nervous. I will be with my 7 year old so I was thinking of taking the bus from San Jose to Monteverde and then perhaps renting a 4×4 in the city to go to the cloud forest park? Or should we just simply pay for a tour once we are there? I am slow and like to take my time but am also worried about driving at the park. Thank you!
There are no car rentals in Monteverde so once you’re there, you’ll have to taxi/Uberaround or some adventure parks offer transportation included in the passes, and there are publis shuttle buses.
Tom howell says
Hi all! Thanks for the valuable information and assistance. We (family of 5, kids 9-13) are planning a nine day trip in February, flying into LIR and renting a 4×4 . We will be staying the first five or six days at Playa Flamingo to unwind on the beach, and spending the last two nights in Sarapiqui to get the true rainforest experience. I’m conflicted, though, on whether to spend one night in Monteverde in-between those two locations. I considered doing Monteverde as a day trip from Playa Flamingo, but that seems exhausting. Conversely, though, the drive from Monteverde to Sarapiqui looks difficult as well (don’t want to spend all the time in the car). Any recommendations on whether we should just skip monteverde this trip, or whether it’s worth it to get some birdwatching in after staying overnight in Monteverde and then drive to Sarapiqui?
For your itinerary I would skip Monteverde and you can also go birdwatching in Sarapiqui
Tom howell says
I would recommend to stay a night near San Jose, immigration and customs have been taking way longer at SJO AIrport and you are arriving at a busy time when several other flights arrive around the same time so just in case, I’d plan to stay by SJO that night because there’s a very high likelihood it may take you a few hours to get through the airport and pick up your car but that is just my personal thinking since I personally don’t like to be rushed on travel days, especially when driving long routes in a foreign country after a long flight.
Hi, We are planning to drive from San Jose airport to La Fortuna on 12/20. Our flight arrives at 3.30 pm but I guess by the time we get out and get our rental, it will be more like a 4.45 pm start. We are renting a Toyoto RAV4 or equivalent. Do you think it is safe to start driving at that time considering it is a 3-3.5 hrs drive and it gets dark around 6 pm?
Coming early February during dry season and driving from Orotina to Monteverde. Have a 4×4 rental but don’t love narrow roads up mountains with big dropoffs on the edges. Is that the case often on 606? Do I need a private shuttle instead?
Hi Dan, Route 606 is going up the mountain with the cliff drop offs as well. I would recommend to just drive very slowly, in February at least it won’t be raining and make sure you drive during the day light (it gets dark by 6 PM everyday here).
Dan Dolgin says
Thanks for the quick reply. Do you know if Gray Line went out of business?
I am not sure…I googled it and it says temporarily closed so could be 🙁
thank you for your blog it’s been really helpful in planning my trip to Costa Rica! I’m arriving in less than a month and I plan on renting a car. I will arrive at San Jose at 12:50pm and I would like to drive to Monteverde that same day. I’m traveling on my own so renting a 4×4 is quite expensive for me, but I was wondering if you had any updates on the road conditions on the 606? Is it advisable to try and make it to Monteverde if I pick up the car around 14:00? And could I do the drive with a sedan?
It will depend on your hotel because you could rent a sedan or a 4×2, you don’t necessarily need a 4×4 or 4wd as a 4×2 SUV will work too, and if your hotel is in downtown or right off the main road that is paved, you can park your car there for your days in Monteverde and then taxi or take the public bus to the reserves as Route 606 is asphalted over with some pot holes.
S Desai says
Hi Sammi, We’re arriving at Liberia airport around 2:30pm at end of December and planning to drive Santa Elena. Which route would be better, route 1 to 145 OR 1 to 142 & 145? do you think Toyota Rav4 be okay for 4 people? Google map shows less than 3hrs, is that accurate? Thank you.
From Liberia, the most common way is ROute 1 and 145.
D Shah says
Would you recommend this plan? Drive from Riu Guanacaste to Monteverde in morning. Do cloud forest. drive to arenal that evening. Then next morning hanging bridges, la fortuna waterfall + chocolate tour ? Or is that too much
That’s a lot of driving. Riu to Monteverde is about 4 hours, then Monteverde to Arenal is also around 3.5 hours and we don’t recommend to drive long distances at night. You could if you leave super early like 5 AM to get to Monteverde around 9-10 AM, visit the cloud forest for a 2-3 hours and then go to La Fortuna but it’s going to be tiring. If you can, I’d stay the night in Monteverde. If you are visiting anytime from now until December/January, I definitely don’t recommend it as right now we’re in our rainiest month (October) and then November/December is right at the end of rainy season but Monteverde does tend to rain more than other areas due to the elevation.
I’m hoping to take 2 families ( 4 adults, 4 kids) using a similar itinerary to your 2 week trip.
Could this be done in the big Hyundai van?
Would we be able to visit Monteverde?
Hi John, you can go by Route 606, there are some pot holes but it’s mostly asphalted/concreted and the main road through Santa Elena is paved, just make sure that your lodging doesn’t require a 4×4 to get there.
Hi, I am arriving to Liberia Airport around 3:30 pm and would like to visit Monteverde. Should I drive straight there (I was reading that we shouldn’t drive in the dark), or stay somewhere overnight and then continue driving there the next morning? Thanks.
I would recommend to stay a night close to Liberia, once you get through immigration and customs and then pick up your rental car, it’ll be closer to sunset and Monteverde tends to rain more so you will spend most of the route driving in the dark and going up the mountains to Monteverde after dark is not recommended at all
Renting a Diahatsu Bego Compact SUV – I think that’s a 4×4? and driving:
A. San Jose – Arenal
B. Arenal – Monteverde
C. Monteverde – Playa Flamingo
Which are the the routes you recommend?:
B. Arenal – Monteverde: Route 142 around Lake Arenal towards Tilaran, Route 145 Las Juntas and then Route 606 Sardinal.
I would say Route 142, I am not sure if they have finished fixing Route 606 (there was a section that got hit by a landslide from last year’s rainy season).
Great blog with really good information!
Just wanted to let you know that we just (end of May 2021) drove from La Fortuna to Monteverde and then to Quepos with a sedan (Toyota Yaris) and the road condition was fine. Some potholes but overall no problem and no need for a 4×4 at all.
Jill Shannon says
Sammi, Your posts are always so helpful, because you know the kind of details many of us need. I was just googling to find info on the road conditions to Monteverde, and here was this wonderful article. Your “flying with pets” one was also one of the best that I have used a few times myself and shared with others. Thank you.
Aw glad to be of help! Thanks for reading our blog 🙂
Jillian Truesdell says
Thank you so much for this post!
I am planning on 2-3 nights in monteverde over thanksgiving. Do you have any tips of whether this year is going to be bad through that time due to the la nina? I don’t want to get stuck in torrential downpour and winds the entire time.
Any help would be much appreciated!
It does tend to rain a bit more up in Monteverde and this year we have definitely had more rain and strong rain. It’s always hard to say exactly what the weather will be like because you can still get a couple hours of clear skies and sun in the morning but it may pour or be windy by noon or it could be a really sunny morning as we will begin to transition to dry season end of November. I recommend to be prepared for everything (rain, sun, winds, etc.)
We are staying at Lake Arenal Brewery for a couple days next week. Is the road from there to Monteverde less bad than how you describe 145 the whole way? We have a 4wd car but I’m wondering if it’s less of a headache to drive from the brewery back down 142 to the 1 to the 606. What do you think? Not worth it?
If you have a 4wd/4×4, then just go slow and try to leave earlier as it has been raining a lot this rainy season so far.
hi thank you for so many good advices
which road are the safest if i will drive from playa samara to monteverde?
You can go out to Nicoya, go across the Friendship bridge and take 606 to Monteverde.
Lynda Hausman says
Hi, thanks for the great blog,soooo useful!
We’re going from Chachagua to Santa Elena (Monteverde) on February 21. Waze gives us two routes – the shortest is around Lake Arenal on 142, 145 and 606 at 3:15 hours, and the longer on 702, 1 and 606 at 3:48 hours.
We have a Suzuki Jimny but have hit roads so bad we can’t believe them (143 for example, etched in our memories forever and already an inside joke).
Would you suggest the longer way to spend more time on 606 and have an easier though longer drive? Or is the 142, 145 combination fine?
I’d go with 606 because the time isn’t a giant difference and 145 is really narrow and not as easy of an drive, especially now 606 is in better conditions.
Hello – Now that Route 606 is newly paved, if we are driving from Liberia airport to Santa Elena, would you recommend we drive from Rt 1 to Rt 605 to Rt 606 rather than taking Rt 145 to 606 and approaching Santa Elena from the north? I was wondering if the drive would be less stressful if it’s paved and it sounds like 145 is not paved. We will have a 4WD SUV. Appreciate any advice.
It will take longer to take 606 from Liberia because its more south than 145, you could still go on 145 but from what I’ve heard, 606 is easier now so would be less stressful.
Headed to CR in March, and we land in Liberia at 8:00pm. Now that the 606 is paved, is driving from LIB to Monteverde in the dark much better if I take that route (of course taking it easy on the curvy roads)? I have a midsize SUV (4wd) reserved.
I’d rather wake up in Monteverde than by the airport on our first day in paradise if possible, but of course I’d like to be safe too. Thanks for any insights from folks that have been there in the last week or two since the paving was completed.
I would definitely stay a night at the airport, even though the road is better, it goes up and around a mountain so it’s windy, steep, curvy and no street lights and takes around 3.5 hours in daylight so it will take way longer in the dark. It is much safer to stay a night and leave early the next morning.
Thank you so much for your response. A follow up question, how about driving from Liberia to Canas in the dark? 🙂
That is not bad, it goes on the Interamericana highway 1 and is well lit plus it is not too far.
Hola! Thanks for your awesome blog! We drove from Arenal to Monteverde on December 27 and there was definitely a section that had tons of potholes, gravel, and curvy roads (AND it was foggy and rainy!). We were so happy to have our 4×4 capability. We just took it slow.
When we hit southbound 606 toward Santa Elena it got much better. Not paved per se but it was a compacted Rock, almost like what they put down as the first layer before they actually pave? So, no potholes but it *was* bumpy. Still, such a welcome relief after the crazy Potholed road before that.
On Dec 31, we made our way out of Monteverde south on 606, to route 1 and then eventually route 18 to Playa Conchal. Wow! That portion of 606 was totally paved and Smooth and amazing. They must have just paved it? And then of course the roads after that were a piece of cake.
I was so nervous about driving to and from Monteverde in particular but the roads are so much better in CR than I anticipated!
Your post on getting gasoline was also super helpful. I used your tips and it all worked out great!
Thanks again! Pura Vida!
Thanks for the feedback Lorri and actually you went right on those days they finished paving the 606! 145 is still not great but I think it was like Jan 1 or even Dec 31 when they finished the 606. Glad you got to drive on some nice roads 🙂
606 is fully paved with asphalt since last week. We drove today with normal car – no SUV no 4×4. No problems at any time.
Thanks for an excellent post. We drove up from San Jose to Monteverde this morning and were surprised over how good the conditions were. The 606 seems to have been paved just recently and its was only the last couple of km:s that were still gravel, and they were working on paving it as we drove past. Smooth driving almost all the way!
Last week we drove from Arenal to Monteverde, then from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio. From Arenal to Monteverde there were a few rough, steep, or potholed areas on 145 that justified having a high clearance 4×4, especially if you’re unaccustomed to potholed country roads or it’s raining. I guess from all the written reports I was expecting something like the Rubicon trail, which it definitely wasn’t. The shoulder/ ditch areas did look very squishy, and we saw a truck that had sunk into the shoulder and tipped over. It was a little hairy, and a little bumpy, and we were glad to arrive in Monteverde.
From Monteverde south on 606, the roads were actually much better than we expected and could easily be traversed in a sedan. No significant potholes. More paved areas than we expected too. It appeared that a lot of 606 had recently been regraded or resurfaced with kind of a packed earth material, much nicer than gravel. This was a very enjoyable drive.
Thanks for the update and feedback Ivy!
Hi – I am travelling in late December and planning to drive from San Jose to Monteverde. Have the road conditions improved or is it still unpaved with potholes on route 606?
We will spend two nights in Monteverde, then drive to Arenal Volcano where we will spend 2 nights. The fifth day we have our return flight out of San Jose at 12:40pm. What time should I start driving from Arenal to get to our flight safely? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Rob, I know 606 is still not fully paved but it’s gotten a bit better though still unpaved for the last part. People have been taking 606 lately, but it is still recommended to have a high car and it does still has potholes.
The drive from La Fortuna to San Jose is around 3 hours and I would add on at least one extra hour to stop for food and traffic and then at least 20-30 minutes for returning your car so I’d leave around 530, 6 AM the latest to be on the safe side to arrive at the airport by 1030 AM. Late December is super super busy in Costa Rica so just keep that in mind that things can take longer (driving, traffic, returning car, airport security, airport check in, etc.) so earlier the better.
Marco Van geffen says
Hello tomorrow we must drive from tamarindo to montverde wich Road is now beter to drive 145 or 166
Route 145 – closer and better roads than 606
Hi Paula, the route through San Ramon doesn’t have quite as nice views but the vies you probably saw leaving Monteverde last time was on Route 606, that route has the nicest views. Route 145 has some nice views but most of the route going up is through the small towns whereas Route 606 goes purely up the mountain. There are some nice views in Tilaran but personally since you are going in October which is our rainiest months, I would just go straight to Manuel Antonio instead of detouring because most likely it will be raining and Route 606 is in very bad shape (and it will take much longer so personally I don’t think it’s worth it).
Paula Jordan says
Greetings. I love your website! I have a question. We will be going from La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio. We do not plan to go to Monteverde, but I recall when leaving Monteverde on a previous trip that we saw some spectacularly green scenery on the way back to Highway 1. In looking at the map now, I am wondering if that was on Highway 145. So I am wondering if taking the road around Lake Arenal, and then going from Tilaran through Candelaria and down to Las Juntas would be pretty. That is a little farther than going from La Fortuna south through San Ramon. Do you have an opinion on this? Would the Tilaran to Las Juntas route maybe get us that beautiful lush green scenery that we previously experienced? Or is the road through San Ramon just as pretty? We will be there the first week of October. Thank you so much.
Hey! Your blog is beyond helpful. We’re coming in late November, and I’m trying to squeeze a detour to Monteverde into our trip. We’d end up on both these routes coming and going… this is so helpful.
We’re headed to the Marriott south of Tamarindo November 19-24 for a conference. I’d like to fly in a day early, to spend one night in Monteverde on the way, to do a hike that next morning. We’d land SJO at 1:06pm, and currently I’ve got a RAV4 reserved from Budget (because I think their pickup is a short walk from the terminal… no shuttle for quick turn around was my hope). We’ll have just carry-ons, so I’d hope to be on the road by 2:30. I’d like to make it to Hotel Belmar by sunset, eat dinner, sleep, and do an early morning guided forest walk and a few Monteverde sights before heading to the Marriott after lunch.
Is this plan too tight? I’ve rented 4x4s in Hawaii and done some pretty rough driving, but never Costa Rica. If I split our flights, I could do Spirit and land at 12:30 to get a little more time. I guess I’m curious if the time of year makes it not a good idea. Thanks so much for your thoughts!
Just make sure you get a good GPS and study the route. I recommend to take Route 145, it’s a bit further than 606 but 606 is still in pretty bad shape, route 145 has more concrete sections and drive slow because you may have to drive part of that route up the mountain in the dark if there is a lot of traffic in San Jose and it tends to rain more in the afternoons and nights. I also recommend to get a prepaid sim card so you have a local number in case of emergencies.
Anthony R says
I am planning to drive to Monteverde from Samara next month (August) in a Toyota Rush.
How long should this take? What time do you suggest leaving Samara?
Also, we’re stopping at Monteverde for 3 nights on our way back to San Jose. Knowing this I assume it would be best to take the 145 in from Samara but then take the 606 out on our way to San Jose.
You can check on Google Maps an approximate time for this route: https://goo.gl/maps/fj6xuQtTx3bAWhk96
I would give it around 3.5 hours, maybe a little more if you stop for food, etc.
Sally Lees says
Hi Sammi! We are staying at Casitas Tenorio as our first stop and then travelling to Arenal for 3 nights followed by Samara for a few days, then Manuel Antonio. With road conditions/ routes in mind, when would you recommend going to monteverde, possibly from Bijagua on the way to Arenal? Or day trip from Arenal? I think we will just go to monteverde for a few hours and save ziplining for Arenal. Thanks for any advice – love your site!
Hi Sally, you could do that but it’ll be a lot of driving (it’s like 2.5 hours from Bijagua to Monteverde, then 3.5 hours from Monteverde to La Fortuna and keep in mind that Monteverde does not have good roads). If you’re visiting in the next few months, we are entering our rainiest months so keep that in mind because it will rain a lot more in those areas and you don’t want to be driving in the dark in the rain on those routes (especially with no GPS or cell phone and it gets dark by 6 PM here everyday). I would do it as a day trip from La Fortuna personally if you reallllly want to visit Monteverde because getting to and from Monteverde is not an easy drive (very bumpy, steep and unpaved roads up a mountain).
Hi – Can you please advise if Toyota Hiace 15 seater van will be ok for the trip from La Fortuna to Monteverde and what route to take? It is just a 2 wheel drive. Going last week of May. We will be 6 adults plus 6 kids and luggage. Concern will be steep single lane wet mud pit roads. Not sure if there are still any on the Tilaran 606 145 route suggested to us. Thanks in advance.
Hi Rajat, the Hiace’s can make it up there (it’s the type of vehicle many shared shuttle companies use). Just make sure to go slowly though because it is an unpaved road for pretty much most of it and it gets a bit steep at some parts. Make sure to take your time and leave early because we are in transition time to rainy season and that area tends to rain more. Usually mornings are clearer.
Hi we are a group of 9 manning a visit to the Monteverde area in early August. Looking for an air bnb but the 2 houses we find talk about the horribly bumpy roads and if have not yet decided if want to rent cars or try to take taxis. Where would you recommend we stay should we get a hotel to just make things easier on all?
You should pick a hotel that’s in or close to Santa Elena town, and not in the outskirts so that way you can walk to restaurants and not be out in the bumpy roads. These are hotels around Hotel Poco a Poco, El Establo, Arco Iris, etc. If you’re not renting a car, I definitely recommend to be close to town because August is rainy season and Monteverde rains quite a bit so it’s good to be close.
Vicky Boehmer says
We are staying in Arenal. What is the best route from there? Down through la fortuna? Or counterclockwise through Tileran and off to Monteverde? We drove Tileran to Monteverde 6 years ago. It was tough and too us about 2.5 hours so I think we know what we are in for.
Thanks in advance for some advice.
It will depend on where you’re going after Arenal. You can go to Monteverde going around the lake or if you’re going to Guanacaste, it’d go through Tilaran and Canas.
Wes Perrey says
Do pot holes require a SUV 4×4 in the dry season?
If all but 6 miles is unpaved gravel would a SUV 2 wheel drive work as well on that condition?
You can get something like a Hyudndai Creta or RAV4 4×2 for dry season, keep in mind that these roads are also quite steep so it’s not just pot holes.
Benny Marcel says
Dan you recommend the best rout from. Monteverdi to Play Conchal Westin on the coast? We will have a 4×4
Thanks so much in advance
Hi Benny! Las Juntas 145 is closest from Guanacaste and you can perfectly go to Monteverde via that route.
Benny Marcel says
thanks! should i take 1 and go north thru Liberia or follow 18/21 west?
Thanks. this is an awesome site by the way!
You can see in this post the map via Las Juntas (Route 145) and use Google Maps to find your route from Westin Conchal, it’s a very common route.
Tony Cimino says
Hi, is route 606 out of Santa Elena still unpaved for 11 miles or so? We’re headed towards Puntarenas in the morning and want to take the smoothest route, even if it’s longer than the gravel section. We have a 4×4 but I hate driving these roads!
Hi Tony, 606 is not done yet so still the same condition, I’d go with Route 145, it has more concrete sections than 606.
We are thinking about doing a coffee tour near Monteverde and will be driving from an Airbnb near Tilaran. We have a Midsize SUV rented from Adobe (Hyundai Creta 4 x 2). We are arriving next week. What is the best way to get to Monteverde from Tilaran?
Hi Mike, you can follow the route here: https://goo.gl/maps/B6DfTPcxRf82 through Route 145
Thanks for this blog. I’m trying to think through the transportation options for four for early next July. If we fly into/out of Liberia, would it make sense to rent a car for 3 nights to drive to the Arenal area and then take the taxi boat for an overnight from the Arenal area to Monteverde? Then take the taxi boat back to our rental car to drive to our beach hotel for five nights afterwards? Since that will be the rainy season, based upon the road conditions around Monteverde, just wondering if that would be a better option than driving there from Arenal? Would it be safe to leave our rental car overnight? Thanks!
Hi Cinda, you can technically do that but there aren’t any public parking places at the lake and the taxi-boat includes transportation from your hotel. You will need to talk to your hotel to see if you can leave the car for a nigh or however long you’re staying in Monteverde, most hotels do for a small fee.
Helen Canty says
Hi, we are going to be driving from La Fortuna to La Pavona to get the boat to Tortuguero in mid December. Can you please advise on the best route to take and how long the drive will take.
Hi Helen, you can check this post for more information: How to get to Tortuguero
Hi Sammi – great site and thank you for all the info! We followed suit and rented a car for our trip next week. We will be coming to Monteverde from La Fortuna and I seem to have that route down but wanted to see the best route from Monteverde to Jaco with 606 still under construction. Can we take 606 to 605 in Guacimal and then jump on Hwy 1 to Jaco? Or is the 606 construction going to prevent us from doing that? Thank you!!
Hi Alex, the best route is to go via Las Juntas 145. Route 606 is closed all the way through (it’s only open for half an hour like 3 times a day) so to avoid any obstacles or delays, you should leave Monteverde via Las Juntas.
Glenda N Belnap says
I am planning an early December 2018 trip to Costa Rica. We will be traveling in a rented 4 x 4 from Monteverde to Tamarindo. Is route 606 open yet? What is the status. We will also be driving from La Fortuna to Monteverde. Is 142 to Tileran and then 145 to Santa Elena still the best route that time of year.
Hi Glenda, Route 606 isn’t supposed to be done until 2019 or even 2020… the construction is going fairly slow and they don’t project it to be done anytime soon. The best route will be Route 145 Las Juntas.
Glenda N Belnap says
I am still confused…Sorry. So when leaving Monteverde take 145 to Las Juntas and then 18 to 21 and then on to Tamarindo. Or is it better to go to Liberia from Las Juntas on Hwy 1.
From Monteverde, go on 145 Las Juntas towards the 1, then onto 18 towards the Taiwan Friendship Bridge, then towards Nicoya after the bridge.
Hi Sandy, there is not too much on this route but you can stop by the Taiwan Friendship Bridge which is nice quick stop. There isn’t too much on this route and once you start going up the mountain towards Monteverde, there are some very nice view points along the way. If you hired a private driver, usually they will stop at nice view points. For lunch, a lot of people stop at Tres Hermanas, it is a restaurant about halfway from Tamarindo to Monteverde. There is also a nice little cafe across the street that has Scarlet Macaws.
When you’re in La Fortuna, you don’t need a 4×4. The roads in La Fortuna are all well paved and a sedan will be perfectly fine.
Sandy H says
Hi, we will be traveling from Tamarindo to Monteverde with a driver. Is there a good place to stop for lunch along the way, or something we should see? We also will be renting a car through your link for a few days when we are in La Fortuna. Do you recommend a 4×4?
Hi–just saw your update to Route 606 to Monteverde: Route 606 to Monteverde is currently under construction as of March 2018 and only open certain hours a day. It is open from 10 AM to 1030AM, 1230 PM to 1PM, 3 PM to 3:15 PM and 5 PM to 7 AM. It is recommended to take Las Juntas, Route 145 which is open. Read about Las Juntas in the post below.
Is this impacting tours traveling to that area? We plan to rent a car but don’t want to be stuck in traffic trying to get to Monteverde….should we forgo it this trip?
Hi Angela, there may be a little bit more traffic in Las Juntas since that will be the route early everyone is going to take now but since it’s a long route and not that many people drive to Monteverde, you won’t be in bumper to bumper traffic. You may run into a slow truck and other cars but it’s not like you will be sitting in traffic for hours since that route is completely open whereas the Route 606 will be closed most of the day (and they are changing closing times according to their progress).
Rebecca D'Elena says
We are planning on going in July to Monteverde, but are wondering if we should reconsider, as we are heading to Santa Teresa after, the 145 route seems to add a lot of time to travel to Monteverde. Any status updates on 606?
Hi Rebecca, I am not exactly sure when the 606 will be done but I recommend checking the Monteverde Facebook page for updates. The 145 does add a bit of time from Puntarenas but it’s not a huge difference so if 606 isn’t open yet, you can still take 145. 145 actually has mostly concrete roads but it is fairly curvy and narrow so you do have to go slow. But it’s not like a 5 hour difference between the two from Puntarenas, it may be like an extra hour or so so that is still an option if the 606 isn’t open all the way yet.
Were planning to rent through Adobe as you suggest for about 12 days and wonder if we need an SUV from San Jose, to Liberia, Hermosa, Playa Coyote and return to San Jose? Im used to driving in the mountains in BC, Canada, so not a city dweller. Any help would be great before i book, travel dates: Nov 1-13,
Hi Judith, you won’t need a 4×4. Playa COyote might have a couple unpaved roads but the main road down to Samara is paved as well as San Jose to Liberia. I wrote a post about road conditions with pics/videos you can check out for more info: Costa Rica road conditions.
Thank you for a lot of great info, spent so much time going through the website getting ready for the first to Costa Rica.
For the trip from Liberia to Monteverde, do you think Hyundai Creta 4×2 will have enough clearance, there will be 2 adults and young teenager, but very lightly packed? Expected travel very early August
Thanks in advance
Hi Ilya! The Hyundai Creta should be OK – just go slow. That car isn’t a 4×4 but should be high enough lightly packed, you’ll just need to go slow and drive careful up the hills and around the pot holes which do get bigger in rainy season.