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The Ferry of Costa Rica. Everything you need to know!

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One of the fastest way to go to the peninsula Nicoya from San José, the caribbean, the north or south of Costa Rica, is by crossing the Gulf by ferry. In this blog I will give you the most important information that you need to know to make this experience highly profitable.

And even though Costa Rica is a small country which you can cross in one day going from east to west, driving many hours is not what we want do do during our vacation, but there is an option that we can use to relax, enjoy beautiful views at the Gulf of Nicoya and save a lot of time on the highway. For this reason we will be talking about this beautiful route that is partly on land and partly on sea, which you can finally consider for your trip.

I would like to remember you that if you need to rent a car for your adventure in Costa Rica, you can use our tool to rent a car. Or if you definitely don’t want to drive, you can use a private transportation, which you can find at the same tool.

If you decide to take the ferry, the boats you will be travelling with have two floors for cabotage (maritime traffic) of vehicles and two others for transporting people. The cars usually go at the lowest part of the beat, while trucks and bigger vehicles or wagons go to the main floor. The people on the other side will be comfortably on the higher floors where they can find food, music and a nice environment to enjoy the trip.

What is the route that the ferries travel?

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The sea route crosses the Gulf of Nicoya connecting in just one hour and some minutes the maritime landing points that are located at the terminal at Barrio El Carmen in Puntarenas and the terminal of Paquera or the dock of Playa Naranjo, avoiding many hours of a difficult and exhausting trip on the road.

What attractions can I see on each route?

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During the trip you will have a beautiful view on the Gulf of Nicoya, its islands, vegetation and wildlife. We were lucky and saw some manta rays jumping just some meters away from the boat outside the water, as well as gulls and pelicans flying around us, but later I will give you some more details about the magic of this place.

The Gulf of Nicoya

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It has an impressive marine and coast landscape, of humid zones, rocks, extensive mangroves and a great biodiversity. You can also see many rocky islands that fill the Gulf.

Around it is the Tempisque river which constantly leads organic material of a great nutritional value for the marine wildlife into the Gulf, which is why mangrove swamps thrive on the coast. In Costa Rica the mangroves are protected since they are very important for the sea life. The birds that nest in their foliage and mud in their roots, protect clams, cankers and pawns.

The most of the people living in this zone depend on the sea food and fishing in general. But from July to August, fishing is prohibited because it is the time of incubation of the sea life.

The lower part of the Gulf of Nicoya is very different than the upper part. There are many mangroves and the area is less populated. Densely forested hills and headlands touch the sea, closing secret bays.

The islands

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On the way we can see many islands like Chira, Venado, Caballo, Tortuga, Cedros, Bejuco, Pan de Azúcar and Negritos, which are housing and great amount of birds and fauna, but the biggest one and the one with the most interesting story is the Isla San Lucas, where the old prison “Carcel de San Lucas” is located, where the least dangerous prisoners of the country resided.

The most dangerous prisoners were taken to Isla del Coco and later to the Central Penitentiary of Costa Rica. Over the time the prison was transformed into a prison that housed slightly more dangerous criminals and with the goal of not distorting the initial idea of the place, the prisionors were transferred to the Central Penitentiary. Since 1991 the prison is closed and now administrated by the MINAET (Environment and Energy Ministry)

Nowadays it is a wildlife reserve and the old installations are today a history center. Furthermore this little peace in the Gulf inspired the novel “La isla de los hombre solos” (en: The island of the lonely men) by José León Sánchez, who spend some years in this prison.

What can I do when I don’t have a car and want to take the ferry?

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There is no problem if you want to take the ferry just for a trip or if you want to cross the beaches of the peninsula of Nicoya. You just need to buy a ticket and wait that the boat arrives to the dock. Actually the people have to enter the boat walking and just the driver can enter by car, so it is not necessary to have a car to take the ferry. On the other side there are always public buses waiting for the people arriving with the boat, so you can just take one and continue your trip.

What services offers the ferry?

On the ferry there is a room with air conditioning, a bar, television and comfortable seats where you can relax and wait that the ferry crosses the gulf. But if you don’t want to miss the view, I recommend you to go to the third floor, where you can find tables, a bar with snacks and food, seats and the best view you can get. There are also public bathrooms on very floor of the boat.

What do I have to do once the ferry arrives?

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Usually they tell the drivers before the arrival that they can go to their vehicles, this time the companions can join the driver and leave the boat with the car. Once the ferry arrives, the people that are not going in a car start leaving the boat from the upper levels at the same time the cars are leaving. After leaving the boat, you don’t have to do anything else, you can just continue your trip to your destination.

Ferry Tambor. Route Puntarenas - Paquera

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If you have planned to visit the beaches of Montezuma, Tambor, Santa Teresa, Malpaís and other places around and you are at the Central Valley, Caribbean or at the South of the country, the fastest and most comfortable way is to take the ferry to Paquera; like this you are saving at least 4 hours of driving.

Another important point to keep in mind is that you can buy the tickets online an choose the service you need, days or weeks before your trip. The online sales are limited to the space on the boat though, so you can also come a little bit earlier and stand in line; the rest of the spaces are being sold at the Naviera Tambor, just crossing the street in front of the boat. Visit this website to buy your tickets: www.quickpaycr.com

What is the schedule?

Departure from Puntarenas

Departure from Paquera

5:00 a.m.

5:30 a.m.

9:00 a.m.

9:00 a.m.

11:00 a.m.

11:00 a.m.

14:00 p.m.

14:00 p.m.

17:00 p.m.

17:00 p.m.

20:30 p.m.

20:00 p.m.

What are the rates?

Person

Adult

₡810

+ I.V.A

Child

₡485

+ I.V.A

     

Vehicle

   

Motorcycle

₡3,400

+ I.V.A

Bicycles

₡2,200

+ I.V.A

Quadracycles and Tricycles

₡6,800

+ I.V.A

Light vehicle

₡11,400

+ I.V.A

Light cargo vehicle

₡17,200

+ I.V.A

Minibus

₡18,300

+ I.V.A

Buses

₡20,600

+ I.V.A

Omnibus

₡22,900

+ I.V.A

Ferry Puntarenas - Playa Naranjo

From the same dock at Puntarenas downtown leave the ferries to Playa Naranjo, so when you are planning to go to Sámara, Nicoya or places around, this is the route you have to take.

There is also an online platform to purchase tickets for this route. You can choose the service that you need and the page will take you step by step. You can visit: www.coonatramar.com

What is the schedule?

Departure from Puntarenas

Departure from Playa Naranjo

6:30 a.m.

8:00 a.m.

10:00 a.m.

12:30 p.m.

2:30 p.m.

4:30 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

8:30 p.m.

What are the rates?

Persons

Adult

₡1.005

+ I.V.A

Child

₡600

+ I.V.A

     

Vehicle

Bicycle

₡2,000

+ I.V.A

Motorcycle

₡3,000

+ I.V.A

Quadracycles and Tricycles

₡3,000

+ I.V.A

Light vehicle

₡9,000

+ I.V.A

Light cargo vehicle

₡14,000

+ I.V.A

Minibus

₡15,000

+ I.V.A

Bus

₡17,000

+ I.V.A

Omnibus

₡19,000

+ I.V.A

I recommend you to use this service, because even though Costa Rica is a small country, the distances are getting a lot shorter when you combine land and sea routes. Furthermore its a good break for the drivers.

If you can additional comments or questions, we are always ready to help you, or you can leave a comment down below. You can also use our online chat, and we will be happy to help you to plan your trip to the centralamerican paradise Costa Rica.

Greetings!

Friday, 11 October 2019 11:30 Written by César Otárola
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