Your Own Private Van/Guide


Intelligent life forms are your guide (or certified naturalist guides if you prefer)

Poas volcano animated
Poas Volcano - great day trip by van or car
Poas volcano animated
Sterling, our numero uno guide with a family group
bailing out log canoe from bribri to yorkin
Your guide can stay with you if you prefer
crossing Rio Drake near Drake Bay
We had some advice about this route - it was "interesting"
That's Nhi checking the Rio Drake last November
hawk osa peninsula costa rica
Naturalist guides with trained eyes on road to the Osa
lankester gardens
Lankester Gardens for your 2nd trip here
El Sol Nuestro monteverde cabin
Your view at the end of a trek to El Sol Monteverde
national geographic in costa rica
Nat Geo loves the place - so do our centipedes
alternative transport costa rica
Let us know if you have special needs :-))
arenal road from sjo airport
Real time GPS data that day on the road to Arenal

Turning Transfers Into Tours 

Let our expert guides take care of your trip, leave the driving to us. Day transfers, day tours to your next destination or multi day tours.

Quotes from TripAdvisor travelers:

  • "trips with professional driver/guides like Sterling, who drove us to Quepos and back one time. A great way to travel in CR", Todd, Okanogan
  • "he is well-versed on all things Costa Rican--history, food, plants, etc. He has an excellent sense of humor and it soon felt like we were driving around Costa Rica with an old friend.", Dosestrellas, N. Carolina
  • "line up Sterling. He is the Best! A young Costa Rican, Sterling is safe, enterprising, friendly, knowledgeable, and, a certified Costa Rica Guide - a designation that required two years of course work to attain.", Speonk, Roanoake
  • "We had a 5 day custom trip with Sterling through Costa Rica and Panama. . . with great knowledge of local wildlife. Having Sterling with us made it a relaxed and very enjoyable trip.", Tom, London
  • "Sterling did an excellent job as our driver, guide and interpreter!! Or to use the Costa Rican phrase, it was Pura Vida.", John, Duluth

OUR MOST POPULAR TRANSFERS FROM SJO Airport/Alajuela area

Prices per van up to 5 persons with luggage.  Add $10 for each extra person after 5 persons.  Also available 24 passenger bus, lower rates on English speaking taxi and any transportation needs you may come up with:

  • Arenal direct transfer $185
  • Arenal scenic via Poas Volcano and Muelle Iguanas - $250
  • Caribbean incl. Cahuita/Puerto Viejo transfer $240
  • Central Valley day trip $150
  • Central Valley 1/2 day $90  (about 4 hours)
  • Dominical/Uvita $220
  • Irazu volcano/Ujarras ruins/Casona de Cafetal/Basilica/Orosi Valley day trip $150
  • Jaco/Caldera/Puntarenas transfer $115
  • La Paz Waterfall Gardens 1/2 day trip $100
  • Monteverde transfer $185
  • Manuel Antonio transfer $185 or scenic stopoffs $225
  • Montezuma, Santa Teresa, Malpais - $240 includes our van ferry both ways
  • Nosara transfer $275
  • Poas Volcano $80 -½ day round trip
  • Puerto Jimenez - $350
  • Sarchi shopping/Grecia/Naranjo/Zarcero topiary day trip $130
  • Samara/Coco/Tamarindo/Flamingo/Northern Guanacaste transfer etc $250

TURN A TRANSFER INTO A TOUR:

  • just add $40 to any "TRANSFERS" above and spend a more leisurely day at some of our favorite and sometimes secret spots along the way to your destination

MULTI-DAY TOURS PRIVATE VAN AND NATURALIST GUIDE

  • $210/day double plus $10 per person extra - anywhere in the country, minimum 4 days includes guide lodging

OTHER POPULAR TRIPS:

  • Arenal to Monteverde
  • Monteverde to Manuel Antonio
  • Arenal to Manuel Antonio
  • Arenal to central Nicoya beaches
  • Arenal to Guanacaste beaches
  • or take a 1 week tour we work out together

Click on RESERVATIONS or CONTACT US or CHAT or just email or phone us if you have ANY questions about traveling in Costa Rica.

SHOULD I RENT A CAR OR FIND A DRIVER/GUIDE?

This is the most common question.

The best place to start your tour of the natural wonders of Costa Rica is right here at the Pura Vida Hotel. Pura Vida is just 4 KM from the main International airport at San Jose (SJO). It is in the central valley but without the convolutions of the nearby capital of San Jose. This makes it the ideal location to take any number of day trips to San Jose, to places like Irazu and Poas volcanoes, to shopping in Sarchi or maybe a visit to Tortuguero National Park.

There are as many ways to explore Costa Rica. Whatever you experience, it is guaranteed to be more fascinating than sitting prone at some SuperMegoResort with thousands of others sucking on straws in some lime green liquid listening to a Norwegian techno rendition of Richard Clayderman doing "My Way". That BTW is preferable to being invited to a 2 hour Katy Perry concert e.g. "Be your teenage dream tonight,tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight".  But um each to their own - I suppose you could be consigned to a prison cell for 20 years with a large furry Russian commando?

We think a great way to start your first experience of Costa Rica is with a Tico naturalist guide - make that your first day learning abit about the culture and vibe from a real Costa Rican while taking in the natural wonders of the neo-tropics.

SHOULD I TAKE INTERBUS/GRAYLINE OR A PRIVATE VAN

1) For Transfers and Tours to a destination like Arenal or Nosara for example

The Interbus (which we do recommend) will cost more than a private van usually with 4 or more persons so that decision is easy if you have a little group.  Our vans will take you on your own route or one we like or recommend.  As we start the trip we will discuss with you what kinds of things you are interested in or want to digress to along the route.  

2) For day trips such as Poas or Irazu Volcanoes returning to the Pura Vida

Moot point as Interbus and Grayline do not do those trips.

CAR RENTAL VS SHUTTLE TO THE BEACH

Car rentals are not cheap in Costa Rica - but with our roads, the costs of taxis at your destination locations, the amount of time it takes to get anywhere AND the beauty of our country, car rentals are a great way to go. Some people discover the money they saved on a shuttle to the beach destination was eaten up in taxi rides or just made the trip a little less interesting as they could not visit certain very interesting places. But there are some who won't drive at all so a private van or shuttle like Interbus works well

DRIVER/GUIDE?

Some people however will not drive in a country without good signs and little respect for rules of the road - then you should hire a driver/guide for a transfer or for a tour once at your destination.  We drive all over the c ountry frequently and do not have a problem however.

For 2 or 3 people it will be economical to take a private bus/shuttle service to your destination with someone like Interbus (who we also recommend as reliable). With 4 or more people the private driver guide will be the same price or cheaper. You also get your own personal naturalist English-speaking guide to take you into local places only he knows. Just be aware you'll probably eat into any car rental cost savings with taxis and you'll miss out on some places difficult to get to at your destination.

THERE ARE SOME NICE DAY TRIPS FROM THE PURA VIDA

Rent a car for a few days or just order up your personal naturalist driver/guide for the day and you can make your own day trips. Our day trips web page has a long list of things to do in this area.

SHOULD TOURISM BE ORGANIZED?

You can take an organized tour with a professional and experienced guide in a bus or a boat or on foot or in a plane to almost anywhere at reasonable prices.  Organized tours last from 1 day up to a week and can be arranged with as little as a few hours notice. But for the "good guides" book ahead.  Of course so-called guides who can't speak English and show up in a "beater Lada" can be found in minutes.  You do have choices eh?

Let us know if you need a little help with getting yourself organized or you have questions about certain destinations you are considering. You will find a whole bunch of ideas on our travel blog - for example here's a list of some of our guests fave places to visit in Costa Rica (compiled by guests).

MORE QUESTIONS/QUESTIONS?

Email away . . . we'll try! We try to get out once a month somewhere in Costa Rica and learn what there is to see and do first hand. So we may have been on that trail you are thinking is impassable?

UM ER PURA VIDA . . . WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE FRIGGIN GPS?

Yes, yes we do own a GPS but do not particularly like 'em - we just get lost and stop a minute or two to ask directions or get acquainted with the neighborhood.

Truth is many guests with them come back saying they could not have made it without one. Although they often marvel at how you do any of this in a country with no road names.  It is actually part of the joy of Costa Rica to get lost occasionally and meet the locals. If you decide not to rent a GPS we have the most excellent Toucan map for sale in the hotel. That and a cheezy compass gets you anywhere.