Arrival in San Jose–Juan Santamaria International Airport 

Please note that you must have a U.S. passport to travel to Costa Rica (no visa required). Be sure it is valid at least 6 months AFTER your return date  or they will not allow you to travel to Costa Rica! You can call the Costa Rican Consulate at (202) 328-6628 from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM, EST with any official questions. You can also try the Costa Rican Tourist Board at 800-343-6332,, although the Consulate has the final word.
You are no longer required to pay the EXIT TAX of $29 per person when you leave Costa Rica.  This tax is now part of your airfare.

Traveling to Puerto Jimenez From San Jose:

By Plane:

If you would like to get to Playa Lapa on your first day in Costa Rica, you will have to schedule an early arrival, and a connecting domestic flight (recommended) from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez, where you can rent a car or get a taxi out to Carate.  Air carriers include SANSA and NATURE AIR.  However, unless you arrive in San Jose very early in the morning to make a same-day connection to Puerto Jimenez, you will spend your first, and possibly your last, nights in San Jose.   The flights to Puerto Jimenez on Nature Air and Sansa arrive and depart from the Juan Santamaria International Airport.  Advance reservations are a must, as these flights often fill up.  We recommend calling them for the most accurate and current information.

On the flight to Puerto Jimenez, which takes about 50 minutes, you will see spectacular views of the countryside and shoreline.  For the clearest flying weather, we recommend morning flights.  When departing Costa Rica, book flights departing San Jose in the  afternoon, which will give you time to make a connecting flight from Puerto Jimenez.  Most major airlines fly to San Jose, including Delta, Continental, United, American, Frontier and Lacsa/Grupo Taca (the national airline of Costa Rica).  If you need a place to stay in the San Jose area let us know.  We are happy to recommend a Costa Rican hotel that is well-run, clean and reasonably priced.

By Bus:

There are two buses a day between San Jose and Puerto Jimenez.  Both stop for lunch mid-route.  The bus company is Autotransportes Blanco Lobo.  Phone number: 011-506-2-256-8963.

By Car:

Driving is a way to see this beautiful country and we can provide you with detailed directions from San Jose to our door.  A 4-wheel drive vehicle is essential, especially during the green season. However we do NOT recommend driving at night! You will have to plan on staying the night somewhere along the way, as it is not possible to drive the whole distance from San Jose to Carate and arrive before dark.

Directions from San Jose: there are two main roads, the first being the Costanera Highway (coast road), and the second is ‘Route 2’ which winds it’s way through the central valley and passes through the mountains that surround it.  Both roads meet up in Palmar Norte at Route 2 and from there go south to Chacarita where there is a gas station.  Turn right just past the station and you will be entering the “Peninsula de Osa”.  Follow this road until you come to Puerto Jimenez and stop for a much needed rest. The entire ride should take you approximately 8 hours, so plan to leave San Jose EARLY to arrive around noon or so.

Puerto Jimenez and Beyond….

Puerto Jimenez, known as the “Gateway to the Osa”, is where you will arrive by domestic flight, bus  or car, and is where you must get your supplies.  Puerto Jimenez has several restaurants, a post office, Internet cafes, a 24-hour clinic, a pharmacy, two banks and other amenities we don’t have out at Carate, where the house is.

If you have taken a flight or bus to Jimenez, and you do not plan to rent a car, we can arrange to have a taxi meet you.  Private taxis from Jimenez to Playa Lapa charge $80 for the trip one way, for the whole vehicle, not per person.

Once your taxi is secured in Puerto Jimenez we recommend stopping at a restaurant to get your bearings, eat, use the bathroom, etc.  Your taxi driver is happy to wait.  He will then take you to the grocery store.  There are several in town, including two supermarkets with a lot of variety.  Shopping in Costa Rica is a great cultural experience!  There are also a liquor store and two bakeries in Puerto Jimenez.  If you are driving a rental car, never leave you car unlocked, or valuables visible in the car(ie your lap top, purse or cell phone).

Another option if you are a truly adventuresome spirit, is the COLLECTIVO TAXI that departs the Jimenez bus depot at 6:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and passes right by the gate to Playa Lapa.  The fare is $9.  It returns from the Carate Pulpería at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m, every day including Sunday.  These are pickup trucks with tarps, and padded seats in the back.  If you plan to take the collectivo to Playa Lapa, then we suggest that you secure a local taxi to help you with your shopping and provide security for your luggage while you shop or dine, but be sure to agree upon a price in advance for this service, and watch your time to get to the collectivo/bus station.

If you prefer to fly from Jimenez to Carate, there is also a small landing strip less than one km from Playa Lapa, served by ALFA ROMEO AIR CHARTER based out of Puerto Jimenez.  They can take up to five people directly to Carate for $185.  They can be reached by phone at 506-735-5178 or fax at 506-735-5112.  The Carate Air Strip is a five minute flight from Jimenez.  However arranging a pick up at the Carate air port to deliver you to Playa Lapa will be expensive, since the taxi service will be coming from Jimenez.  It may be possible to secure transportation from a local lodge, but again, it will not be economical.

Renting a Car:

This is a popular way to travel from Jimenez to Carate, but it can be expensive.  A car certainly isn’t necessary, as many activities are within walking distance of the casa, but it can make some things a bit more accessible, especially for older travelers or families with young children.  For the hail and hardy it is considered a waste of money as it sits unused for days at a time; a taxi service can be arranged for your tours, or the local collectivo.
We will be happy to book a rental car for you if that is your preference.
A four wheel drive vehicle is a must, because no roads are paved beyond Jimenez.
From Puerto Jimenez, you can get to Playa Lapa by continuing south to the gas station and turning right.  The Carate highway provides overland access between Puerto Jimenez and Carate year round.  However, in the rainy season a number of rivers swell with large rains to make passage intermittent as storm waters recede.  Follow the road for 1 hour or so; it is a beautiful drive through imposing primary growth in the mountains and across the lowland pasturage and rice farms of the southwestern part of the peninsula.  About a half a mile past the lagoon which you will observe on you left, watch for the sign and front gate to Playa Lapa.  The casa is located out at the beach, just follow the driveway through the kahuna palms.  Manuel the caretaker will have the from gate open for you, and we will meet you at the Casa to show you in and give you your keys.

Kick back, relax, explore. You made it!

Please take note:

It is not advisable to plan to drive from San Jose to Carate on the day you arrive–it gets dark by 5:30 to 6:00 PM year round, and driving beyond Jimenez after dark is somewhat dangerous, as the road is very rough, there are NO street lights or road signs, and cellular communication is spotty at best.  DO NOT depart from Jimenez after 3:00 PM.

It is advised to make a stop mid way to break your journey, around Dominical or Uvita. 

Conversely, you will need to plan accordingly for the return trip to San Jose for your departure flight.

  • Juan Santa Maria Airport
  • San Jose to Puerto Jimenez by Bus
  • Nature Air Regional Plane
  • Sansa Regional Plane
  • Domestic Flight--Nature Air
  • Ariel View of Rainforest
  • Coastline of the OSA
  • Airport in Jimenez
  • Taxi Rojo--Puerto Jomenez
  • Puerto Jimenez to Carate--COLLECTIVO
  • 4WD Car, OSA Peninsula
  • River Crossing--OSA Peninsula
  • Cessna Air Plane At Carate Air Strip
  • Landing at Carate air Strip
  • Arrival at Carate Air Strip