Costa Rica Travel Blog is the current traveller, will-be traveller, has-been traveller, and should-be traveller's guide to everything costa rica. Information, stories, news, advice – written by the Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated team – costa rican insiders, outsiders, and everywhere-in-between-siders.
Confusion over what and where monteverde is, what and where santa elena is, and what and where travellers truly should visit during their vacation is all too common. We often have the following conversation with our clients:
Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated: A visit to monteverde is an excellent choice! We can certainly assist you with hotel arrangements in santa elena.
Client: Oh, I have no interest in visiting santa elena, thanks. I want to see monteverde.
Most travellers are familiar with the term “monteverde” as it is discussed at lengths in the various guide books and talked about at large amongst past Costa Rica visitors. Yet, most travellers are surprised to learn that monteverde is not the name of the town these sources are referring to. Monteverde is itself a region – most notably known for the monteverde reserve that the area encompasses – and santa elena is the name of the nearby town. When planning a visit to monteverde, most travellers are essentially visiting santa elena, where many hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, and other “good-to-haves” such as banks and grocery stores are located.
Downtown santa elena consists of three main roads forming a triangle. The downtown core itself is tiny, however the entire area (that is generally referred to as monteverde, although it includes the regions of monteverde, santa elena, and cerro plano) is quite large. The three roads that form the triangle offer tangents to the north, south, and southeast. As in life, whichever road is best for you depends on where you desire to end up: the road to the north leads visitors to popular adventure tours such as sky adventures and selvatura park, as well as the well-known santa elena reserve, the road to the south paves the way to Costa Rica’s central highway system for those needing to get to san jose or the SJO international airport in alajuela, and the road to the southeast leads to additional hotels and popular attractions such as the monteverde cheese factory and the famous monteverde reserve. Our friends at Desafio Adventure Company offer the following map that perfectly showcases the town’s design.
Don’t allow the name “santa elena” to discourage you when planning your trip to monteverde. We know all too well how confusing the region names can be, as well as how difficult it is for travellers to decipher between which area is the best to visit and which is the best to find room and board in.
When planning your vacation (whether it be with the assistance of a local expert or on your own), take note of the locations within the monteverde region you wish to visit (ie. the monteverde reserve, sky adventures, etc.) and plan your transportation to and from each accordingly. If you have your own rented vehicle, you may prefer to stay in the area actually called monteverde (nearby the monteverde reserve) and drive yourselves to and from town to shop and/or eat. Otherwise, if relying on tour transportation and taxis to get you from point A to point B during your trip, perhaps it would be most advantageous for you to select a santa elena hotel (many of which are within walking distance to dining and shopping options) and you can plan to do your tours to/from there.
*Discounts for hotels in santa elena and monteverde are available through Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated at: http://www.costaricahoteldiscounts.com
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Been to the area? What is your favourite santa elena or monteverde hotel to stay at?