This road is a route I had done many times all my life, from when there was only one road, to now, that you have options.
To get from SJO Airport to Puntarenas, you take the route 27 all the way, and to go to Jacó, Quepos and Manuel Antonio, you take highway 27 to Orotina, and then south, and you will find one on one, all the towns.
Options To Get There
For going there you have several options, depending the hour you arrive at SJO Airport, the number of people in your group, your budget, and even how fast you want to get there. You can rent a car, take a public bus, or take a taxi. If you go to Quepos, Manuel Antonio, you have the option of a small plane too.
On A Rented Car
The most freedom-given choice is to Rent a Car. If you are adventurous enough, and you have the budget, this is an option. You should acknowledge that Costa Rica thinks that our car accident rate is a big problem. We have lots of cars on minimal and ancient and inadequate maintenance infrastructure. That join with bad driving education is a mix of what we consider an epidemic problem. That is a big thing to acknowledge when renting a car. I like to recommend that you get to what you want to go outside the Central Valley, and there, analyze your renting options.
On A Public Bus
The cheapest way is on a public bus. You can take a taxi from SJO to the corresponding bus station, and take a bus to whatever town you want to go to, either Puntarenas, Jacó, or Quepos. This choice will work if you arrive early, or if you have a place to sleep for the night and take the bus early the next morning. You cannot make a reservation online for the bus, and sometimes buses are sold out. The bus is not very comfortable; seats are to close to each other, and coaches do not have restrooms nor air conditioner. Depending on the destinations, buses do not stop on their way. If you had a long flight, getting on a coach may be close to torture.
Puntarenas: The bus station to Puntarenas is Empresarios Unidos is located at Barrio Cuba at San Jose, which is in the center of the city, the phone number is +(506) 2221-6600, and their email is email@example.com. Website http://www.eupsacr.com/. Riding time to Puntarenas is about 2 hours.
Jacó: The bus station to Jaco is Estación 7-10, at Barrio México, on the other side of the city. They lump together some destinations in one bus station, one of them is Jacó. Website http://terminal7-10.com/. Riding time is about 2 hours.
Quepos Manuel Antonio: The bus station to Quepos is Tracopa, at Plaza González Víquez, at the center of San Jose. Phone number +(506) 2221-4214 Website https://www.tracopacr.com/. Riding time is about 4 hours. I think they should stop somewhere for refreshments and restrooms.
On A Small Plane
It is too complicated to take a small plane To Puntarenas or Jacó because they do not have an airstrip. If you go to Quepos, you can take a small plane. You take a taxi from SJO to the Tobias Bolaños Airport, which is the airport from where you can take a small plane to Quepos. You can make a reservation online on their website https://www.aerobell.com/. The name of the company is Aerobell. Depending on the schedule, you will have to sleep one night in San José, and depending on the number of people, this could be the most expensive way to get there.
On A Taxi
The best faster way is to go on a Taxi. Depending on the size of the group you are traveling with, sometimes this is even the cheapest way. You can take it from outside the airport, or even better, make a reservation online on our website here, to go to any town in Costa Rica you want to go. Let the professional driver take responsibility so you can have the rest you deserve before the time you spend on an airplane. No matter the hour you arrive.
Price of the taxi service will depend on the hour of the service, and this is because of the amount of traffic you can find, but also depends on the size of the unit, a sedan will take up to 3 persons, and microbus will take up to 8 persons per travel. From SJO Airport to Puntarenas or Jaco is from $105 to $130. From SJO Airport to Quepos Manuel Antonio can go from $180 to $240. You can make a reservation of the taxi on our website, click here
For your safety DO NOT TAKE any Pirate services outside the Airport. Pirate service is a big problem that our airport has. Since this is a rigorous country on rights, and no so much on responsibilities, there is a lot of insecure pirates offers outside the Airport that the police cannot control entirely (Or do not want to). That provokes that naive trusted people to take these services.
If you go to a bus station, as a tourist you may be the target of thieves, so you should always be aware of your belongings. May sure you have all your things on hand until you put them on the trunk of the bus. Your handbag is also a thing you should always have on sight on the bus. Other than that, it is pretty secure inside the bus station or on the bus itself.
The Road to Central Pacific.
From SJO you take west on route 01 Bernardo Soto up to El Coyol crossroads. This part is a hazardous road. It is a four- lanes road on some parts, and two-lanes on the bridges which are several. It is a heavy traffic road, without a median strip or central reservation, with lots of accidents. This road is supposed to be reconstructed, but you know, undeveloped minded persons get on the way. Be aware of this part. -About 5 miles.
From there you go south on Radial El Coyol to route 27 crossroads, the Radial El Coyol is a new two lanes road, heavy on traffic, but less dangerous, as a new way is well constructed.
Then retake west on route 27 to Pozón, for about 24 miles. This road is an excellent new road, with toll booths. For some parts, there are not median strip either. It changes from two-lane highway in some regions, to four-lane with a median strip in others. On weekends or festive days, this road is too busy, full of traffic, and you will spend twice the time on the way.
At Pozón you go straight ahead west continuing over route 27 to Caldera, and then up north to Puntarenas. This road is a lovely road, fast until you arrive at Caldera, where there is a bridge, the entrance of the port, and some restaurants. Traffic is slow in this part, and the road is a two-lane, no median strip, and a bit dangerous. In the end, you pass through La Angostura, a thong of land where you have only a two-lane road, and a railroad line, and on one side the coastline, and on the other a mangrove swamp. Then you enter the city of Puntarenas.
At Pozón you exit the route 27 south to route 34 or Costanera for 25 miles until you get to Jacó, the biggest town on your right. This road is a slow two-lane road with some traffic, especially over the Tarcoles river bridge, where locals and tourists alike, stop for the sight of huge crocodiles, there are restaurants and souvenir shops. From Tarcoles to Jacó is a faster road, still dangerous because there is no median strip either. On the left, you will find the Carara National Park, and a dense humid beautiful jungle full of wildlife, and on the right, the coastline and some cattle land and housing development.
To Quepos and Manuel Antonio
Continuing the road straight ahead on Jacó, you keep going for another 42 miles, southeast. You will find some lovely towns full of activities and wildlife. From Playa Hermosa, famous for the surf, Esterillos with a large expat community, Bejuco, Parrita full of oil palms and oil palm industries, to Quepos with the sportfishing, and Manuel Antonio, with the most visited national park in Costa Rica with its world-famous wildlife, and beaches.
Other Road Options
You have other options for going from SJO Airport to Puntarenas, you can go all the way on route 01 for 51 miles and 2 hours to Barranca crossroads, and from there take a left to Puntarenas for another 10 miles. This road was the old road to Puntarenas and from there to Guanacaste. It is a wavy winding two-lane exciting but dangerous road, full of ancient towns. This road was what we call the Cambronero route.
Another way to go from SJO to Jacó, Quepos and Manuel Antonio is taking what we call El Aguacate Road. This road was the road we take before they build route 27. This road is a narrow, very dangerous heavy winding and bumpy road, with beautiful views, 31 miles to Orotina. This route goes parallel to Route 27. Form Orotina you continue in the same way 34 or Costanera that I describe above.
Frequently ask questions
What airport serves Jaco Costa Rica? In Costa Rica there are only two airports, the main airport is the Juan Santamaría International Airport SJO located in Alajuela, on the side of the central valley in Costa Rica, where the main city is. This Airport is closer to Jacó. The other Airport is the Daniel Oduber International Airport located in Liberia, northwest of the country, and it is farther away.
How far is Jaco Beach from the airport? Jacó is located southwest from SJO, and some 55 miles, one and a half to two hours. Depending on the day and the hour of the trip, it will easily take up to three hours. This path is a route I had done many times all my life, from when there was only one road, to now, that you have options.