Hundreds of articles on Costa Rica trip planning, travel in Costa Rica, and saving money, plus free discounts. Pura vida!

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

NEW! Our awesome Costa Rica Destination Tool filters 66 destinations by nearly 150 criteria to help you quickly and easily decide where to go in Costa Rica according to your unique preferences, wants, and needs. Learn more and access the tool on our sister site, DIY Costa Rica, here.

Best Ways To Travel From La Fortuna To Monteverde (Or Vice Versa)

Best Ways To Travel From La Fortuna To Monteverde (Or Vice Versa)

Last updated on May 13th, 2022 at 02:50 pm EST

Want to save money in Costa Rica?
Our sister site, Pura Vida! eh? Inc., has La Fortuna / Arenal tour discounts and Monteverde tour discounts. Con mucho gusto (you’re welcome) and pura vida!
🙂

Click on a photo in the gallery above for discount and tour information

If you plan to travel from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde (or vice versa), know this.

La Fortuna, home to the Arenal Volcano, and Monteverde, a key place to experience Costa Rica’s beloved cloud forest ecosystem, are two of the most visited areas of Costa Rica. Though the destinations are near each other geographically, they are separated by Arenal Lake and vast protected land areas including the Arenal Volcano National Park and the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. As a result, travel from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde (or vice versa) is a multi-hour trek.

There are two main ways you can travel from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde or from Monteverde to La Fortuna / Arenal. A handful of potential city-to-city transportation-inclusive tours also provide a means of traveling between the two destinations (see below for more information about city-to-city transportation-inclusive tours), but they’re less commonly used. Here are the two most popular ways to get from La Fortuna to Monteverde or vice versa: 

  • Via ground transportation
    A rental car, shared shuttle service, private transfer service, or taxi can be used to get from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde (or vice versa)
  • Via combined ground and boat transportation
    A combination of a shared shuttle service and a boat can be used to get from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde (or vice versa)

Monteverde does not have a domestic airport, so flying to and from the destination is not an option. Continue reading below to determine which mode(s) of transportation would be the best for you.

Not sure whether you should visit La Fortuna or Monteverde? Don’t miss our related blog post:

How To Decide Between La Fortuna / Arenal Or Monteverde (Or Why You Should Visit Both)

Travel from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde (or vice versa) via ground transportation

In some areas of the country, including Puntarenas, Paquera, and Playa Naranjo, Costa Rica operates large ferries that can transport travelers, rental cars, shuttles, and private transfer service vans between destinations. Unfortunately, large ferries do not operate on Arenal Lake, so it’s up to the smaller tourist boats and speedboats to transport travelers. None of these boats are equipped to carry vehicles on board, so if you plan to rent a car in Costa Rica, your only option is to drive around the lake. This drive, from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde (or vice versa), takes approximately 3 hours to complete when the most popular route (through Nuevo Arenal and Tilaran) is taken. Coming from La Fortuna, you’ll find the first half of the drive is conducted on a paved, albeit curvy, road (Road 142). The last half is driven on bumpy roads that climb in elevation to the mountainous Monteverde area. For a more in-depth analysis of the roads around Monteverde and La Fortuna / Arenal, see the articles linked below.

Do you plan to drive yourself from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde or vice versa? Don’t miss our related blog posts:

Driving To Monteverde Costa Rica: Photos, Road Conditions, Routes, Drive Times, And More!

Driving To La Fortuna Costa Rica: Photos, Road Conditions, Routes, Drive Times, And More!

Travel from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde (or vice versa) via combined ground and boat transportation

If you aren’t tied to a rental vehicle, you can take a shared shuttle service, a private transfer service, or a taxi from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde (or vice versa), just like most other routes in Costa Rica. If you’d like to experience something different, though, like a scenic boat ride across Arenal Lake that showcases the Arenal Volcano, you can accomplish this by taking the popular van-boat-van service. This service, sometimes referred to as the jeep-boat-jeep service or the taxi-boat-taxi service, combines ground transportation from Arenal / La Fortuna to Arenal Lake, boat transportation across the lake, and ground transportation from the lake to Monteverde. (The reverse route can be taken from Monteverde.)

What is the van-boat-van service?

The van-boat-van service is an alternative to driving around Arenal Lake when traveling between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde. Specifically, it trades about 1.5 hours of drive time for a lovely one-hour boat ride across the lake. Conveniently, each aspect of the van-boat-van service is handled by the tour operator you choose to book the service through, so you don’t need to worry about coordinating vehicles, boats, and arrival/departure times. Similar to shared shuttle services and private transfer services, which connect Arenal / La Fortuna with Monteverde and provide hotel pick-ups and drop-offs hotels in each area, the van-boat-boat service is a door-to-door service. You can be picked up and dropped off at La Fortuna- and Monteverde-area hotels and your luggage will stay with you as you travel between the two destinations. Though service departure times vary across tour operators, most companies operate the service to and from La Fortuna and Monteverde twice daily, once in the morning (around 8:00am-8:30am) and again in the afternoon (around 2:00pm-2:30pm). Reservations are required.

Will taking the van-boat-van service help me avoid the bumpy drive to Monteverde?

Unfortunately, no. The roughest road that falls along the route between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde is Road 606, which you’ll encounter either just before you arrive at Monteverde (if coming from La Fortuna) or just after you leave Monteverde (if traveling to La Fortuna). You’ll travel this bumpy stretch of road in a vehicle regardless of whether you take the van-boat-van service, whether you drive yourself around the lake, or whether you arrange for a shared shuttle service, a private transfer service, or a taxi to take you to Monteverde from La Fortuna / Arenal (or vice versa).

The above being said, if you elect to take the van-boat-van service between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde (or vice versa), you’ll avoid most of the drive on the paved Road 142 that is known for being curvy.

The cheapest way to travel between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde

As we explain in our related blog post Costa Rica Transportation: 12 Ways To Get Around Costa Rica:

Though private transfer services appear expensive (they are priced for the entire vehicle and not per passenger), depending on the number of people you plan to travel with, they may be the most cost-effective Costa Rica transportation option.

A similar lesson also applies to van-boat-van services: they may or may not be the cheapest method of transportation between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde. This conclusion depends entirely on the number of people you travel with.

If you’re a single traveler, or if you’re traveling with one, two, or three other people, you’ll find the cost of the van-boat-van service (approximately $30-50 USD per person) to be the least expensive option. (Shared shuttle services are usually more expensive, averaging $50-60 USD per person for the route between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde.) Private transfer services, on the other hand, average about $200-250 USD per group (typically for 1-8 passengers) for the route between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde. So, if you’re visiting Costa Rica as part of a group of 5+ individuals who intend to split the cost of a private transfer service, this method of transportation would likely be the least expensive option overall.

It’s virtually impossible to compare the cost of the van-boat-van service to the cost of renting a car in Costa Rica and driving yourself around Arenal Lake. This is because the calculation would be influenced by a variety of factors, including the type of vehicle rented, the amount of insurance purchased, the duration of the rental period, the vehicle pick-up and drop-off locations, and whether optional add-ons (such as a child car seat rental or a GPS system rental) would apply. With the price of gas these days, though, that factor alone is likely to make driving a more expensive option and the van-boat-van service a more affordable alternative.

Are you considering making a day trip between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde? Don’t miss our related blog post:

How To Make A Day Trip To Monteverde From La Fortuna (Arenal) Or Vice Versa?

Best ways to travel between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde

Choose to travel by rental car if:

  • You want to have the freedom of driving yourself
  • You want to make a direct trip without any scheduled stops along the way
  • You want to make stops along the way, such as at shops or restaurants scattered around Arenal Lake
  • You want to make significant or out-of-the-way detours along the way, such as to the Liberia, Bijagua, or Venado regions
  • You want to take a route other than the most common route (i.e., the route through Nuevo Arenal and Tilaran), such as the route through San Ramon to the Pan-American highway (with access to Monteverde from the southeast) or the route through Canas to the Pan-American highway (with access to Monteverde from the southwest)
  • You need to schedule a departure from Arenal /La Fortuna or Monteverde at a specific time of day
  • You would find it a challenge to climb into and out of a vehicle and boat twice while carrying your luggage
  • You would prefer to skip the hotel pick-ups and drop-offs of other travelers utilizing the same transportation service
  • You would prefer to avoid boat transportation (i.e., if there is a fear of water, or if boat rides induce motion sickness)

Choose to travel by shared shuttle service if:

  • You don’t want to have the responsibility of driving yourself
  • You want to make a nearly direct trip, with only one quick bathroom stop scheduled along the way
  • You have no interest in making stops or taking significant or out-of-the-way detours along the way
  • You don’t care which route is taken
  • You have a flexible trip itinerary that allows for a departure from La Fortuna or Monteverde at the shared shuttle service provider’s scheduled time
  • You would find it a challenge to climb into and out of a boat while carrying your luggage
  • You won’t be bothered by the hotel pick-ups and drop-offs of other travelers utilizing the same transportation service
  • You would prefer to avoid boat transportation (i.e., if there is a fear of water, or if boat rides induce motion sickness)

Choose to travel by private transfer service if:

  • You don’t want to have the responsibility of driving yourself
  • You want to make a direct trip without any scheduled stops along the way
  • You want to make stops along the way, such as at shops or restaurants scattered around Arenal Lake
  • You want to make significant or out-of-the-way detours along the way, such as to the Liberia, Bijagua, or Venado regions
  • You want to take a route other than the most common route (i.e., the route through Nuevo Arenal and Tilaran), such as the route through San Ramon to the Pan-American highway (with access to Monteverde from the southeast) or the route through Canas to the Pan-American highway (with access to Monteverde from the southwest)
  • You need to schedule a departure from Arenal /La Fortuna or Monteverde at a specific time of day
  • You would find it a challenge to climb into and out of a boat twice while carrying your luggage
  • You would prefer to skip the hotel pick-ups and drop-offs of other travelers utilizing the same transportation service
  • You would prefer to avoid boat transportation (i.e., if there is a fear of water, or if boat rides induce motion sickness)

Choose to travel by van-boat-van service if:

  • You have an interest in boating on Arenal Lake and/or seeing the Arenal Volcano from the lake
  • You have no interest in making stops or taking significant or out-of-the-way detours along the way
  • You have a flexible trip itinerary that allows for a departure from La Fortuna or Monteverde at the van-boat-van service provider’s scheduled time
  • You would not find it a challenge to climb into and out of a vehicle and boat twice while carrying your luggage
  • You won’t be bothered by the hotel pick-ups and drop-offs of other travelers utilizing the same van-boat-van service
  • You aren’t bothered by boat transportation (i.e., you don’t have a fear of water and you don’t experience motion sickness)
  • You would prefer to minimize ground transportation as much as possible, including the curvy sections of Road 142 that the van-boat-van service avoids

Travel from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde (or vice versa) by city-to-city transportation-inclusive tours

As we describe in our related blog post Costa Rica Tour Transportation: How To Use Tours To Travel Between Destinations, Costa Rica offers several adventure tours that include transportation between two cities in their rates. Fortunately, a handful of city-to-city transportation-inclusive tours cover the route between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde.

If you enjoy horseback riding, there is a full-day experience that combines the van-boat-van service with a leisurely horseback riding tour. If you’re in search of a more physically challenging experience, you can elect to participate in a full-day mountain biking tour that can begin and end in either La Fortuna or Monteverde. (Note: the mountain biking tour option is temporarily unavailable.) For a lighter experience, the van-boat-van service can be combined with a coffee tour. Each of these three tour types provides an opportunity to experience a fun activity on a day partly consumed by transportation demands.

Map of La Fortuna Costa Rica

Map of Monteverde Costa Rica

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: When you travel, what’s your preferred mode of transportation?

Pura vida!

Costa Rica Travel Blog

Costa Rica tour discounts

DIY Costa Rica

DIY Costa Rica

Costa Rica Recommendations Map

Costa Rica Destination Tool

Costa Rica Trip Planning 101 E-Course

Summary
Best Ways To Travel From La Fortuna To Monteverde (Or Vice Versa)
Article Name
Best Ways To Travel From La Fortuna To Monteverde (Or Vice Versa)
Description
Need to travel between Arenal / La Fortuna and Monteverde? We outline the best ways to get from La Fortuna to Monteverde and vice versa!
Author
Publisher Name
The Official Costa Rica Travel Blog
Publisher Logo

Private

  • You do not have permission to view this forum.