Taking shuttles in Costa Rica is a time efficient and comfortable way to get around the country. There are many ways to get around Costa Rica but if you don’t want to drive in Costa Rica or take the bus, booking shuttles is your next best option.
Here are important things you need to know about taking shuttles in Costa Rica and if you’d like to get a private shuttle quote, please fill out the form at the bottom of the post.
Costa Rica Shuttle Services: Private and Shared
In Costa Rica, there are private and shared shuttles. Here are the differences below.
The key difference between a private and shared shuttle in Costa Rica is that private shuttles are exclusively for your group and no one else. Shared shuttles take up to 10-15 passengers at a time.
Additionally, private shuttles wait for you directly at the airport, you can be picked up or dropped off at a vacation rental, you can ask them to stop during the drive and they don’t have a set schedule. Most private shuttles offer refreshments and free Wi-fi.
If you want to book a private shuttle, please contact us or use the form at the bottom of the post for a quote. We work with a private transportation company that has routes all throughout Costa Rica.
On the contrary, shared shuttles have a set schedule, require a minimum number of people to run, normally cannot pick up directly at the airport, only make 1 rest stop and pick up and drop off at hotels only.
Shared shuttles also take longer because you have to go around and pick up other people from different hotels. Additionally, passengers can usually just bring one check in luggage and one personal item.
However, shared shuttles are an excellent option for solo travelers or travelers on a budget that don’t want to take the public bus. A shared shuttle is around $59 USD per person for regular routes like San Jose – La Fortuna.
For shared shuttles, check major companies like Interbus, Easy Ride, Tropical Transfers, Caribe Shuttle and Ride CR. Just a note that due to COVID-19, availability may be limited for shared shuttles as some companies may require 2-4 passengers in order to operate a route.
Why We Recommend Private Shuttles in Costa Rica
We personally recommend booking private shuttles in Costa Rica. We’ve taken both private and shared and for travelers who are not on a strict budget or traveling solo, private shuttles are the much better option, especially during this time of COVID-19. Check this post to see what the COVID situation has been like in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica private shuttles are more comfortable, more spacious and faster than shared shuttles. You have the vehicle all for yourself and your luggage, you don’t have to sit next to strangers and you can stop when you need to.
Our transportation recommendation for young families or multi-generational families visiting Costa Rica who don’t want to drive is definitely private shuttles. You’ll be much more comfortable if you have babies, little kids or seniors that may need extra attention.
Shuttle Costs in Costa Rica
Shuttle costs vary depending on destinations and number of people. Private shuttles in Costa Rica are more expensive than shared shuttles. For example, a shared shuttle from La Fortuna to Tamarindo is around $59 USD per person and a private is around $250 USD total for 1-6 passengers.
However, if you have a group of at least 3-4 people, the private shuttle cost per person works out to be about the same as a shared shuttle. This is another reason why for groups and families, private shuttles are the best option to get around Costa Rica.
Space and Privacy
Private shuttles are excellent for families with young kids or seniors since you will be able to ask the driver to stop along the way and have the whole vehicle to your group. That way, you have all the space, privacy and flexibility.
Private shuttles also give you a more personalized experience, since many drivers like to share information about Costa Rica so someone can sit up front and talk to them.
Additionally, if you are a bigger person like very tall or stout, a shared shuttle will not be very comfortable when the vehicle is full. When it’s full, it is cramped (think basic economy flight seats but in a vehicle instead of a plane so you can’t get up to stretch your legs). If you are of big stature, then a private shuttle will be more comfortable and the better option.
Advantages of Taking Costa Rica Shuttles
- Faster than a bus. Public buses make a ton of stops and you can avoid switching buses.
- If staying at hotels, the shuttles are direct for both shared and private. If staying at vacation rentals, private is direct.
- You don’t need to worry about directions or bus schedules. Getting lost is one of my personal fears when traveling abroad. A shuttle takes away all that stress.
- Efficient. All you have to do is book the shuttle, get picked up at your hotel and you’re good to go!
Travel-planning-tip: Some people will shuttle to their destination and then rent a car. For example, many people book a shuttle from San Jose to Puerto Viejo and then rent a car for their time in Puerto Viejo. Then they will return the car and take a shuttle to their next destination.
Important Things to Know About Booking Shuttles
- If you are staying at an Airbnb or vacation rental, ask your host for GPS coordinates or if the place is on Google maps/Waze. Many vacation rentals are in the middle of who knows where and the driver will need exact directions on how to get there or a map.
- Prices are quoted in USD. Everything in tourism like hotels, tours and transportation services are quoted in USD. Read more about Costa Rican currency and using USD in Costa Rica.
- Nowadays for COVID-19, many shared shuttles require 2-4 passengers minimum to run. This is a tough thing about being a solo traveler in Costa Rica right now since availability is still limited. You may need to cough up the extra money for a private shuttle or sacrifice time and space for the public bus.
- Shuttle companies will have booster/baby seats available BUT they do not have seats for all ages. Most companies have seats for 3 years and up. I do recommend asking the company to send you a photo of the seat they have so you can verify it will work for you.
- Inquire about wheelchair accessibility as not all vans have the automatic lift.
If you want to book a private shuttle, please fill out the form below for a quote. We work with a private transportation company that has routes all throughout Costa Rica.