The information about private transfer services below is an excerpt from our full Costa Rica Transportation Guide. To learn about other types of transportation services in Costa Rica visit our free transportation guide:
Information about private transfer services
Are you thinking about using private transfer services to get around during your trip? Awesome! Here’s everything you need to know about private transfer services in Costa Rica.
General info, vehicle types, and passenger capacity
Private transfer services are a popular method of Costa Rica transportation used by travel groups typically consisting of four or more people. They offer transportation in an air conditioned tourist van that typically seats 8-12 passengers. Larger vehicles (that can carry up to 30 passengers) are also available to accommodate bigger groups. Unlike shared shuttle services, private transfer services are not shared with unknown travelers. They are private to your particular travel group.
Private transfer services provide direct travel between destinations, however, you’re welcome to request stops along a route. Note that some private transfer service providers limit the amount of complimentary stop time per route to one hour and charge a small fee for additional stops in order to cover the driver’s time. Stop time can be used for impromptu bathroom breaks, restaurant visits, to take photos, etc.
Private transfer services travel to almost every Costa Rica destination that’s reachable by vehicle. This is one of their advantages; they provide access to places that don’t fall along shared shuttle service routes.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of places where private transfer services regularly travel. If your chosen destinations don’t appear on the list, there’s a good chance you can still reach them by using a private transfer service.
- The country’s two international airports located in Alajuela (San Jose) and Liberia.
- Popular inland destinations such as La Fortuna / Arenal, Monteverde / Santa Elena, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, and Rincon de la Vieja.
- Popular coastal destinations including Papagayo, Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa, Brasilito, Playa Flamingo, Tamarindo, Samara, Tambor, Montezuma, Santa Teresa, Puntarenas, Jaco, Quepos / Manuel Antonio, Dominical, Uvita, Sierpe, Cahuita, and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
Since private transfer services offer the luxury of having the transportation vehicle all to yourself, you can place your luggage where you want. Store it at the back of the vehicle or secure it above the vehicle if you wish, or keep it with you at your seat. According to the policies of the private transfer service provider you book with, there may be a limit to the amount of luggage you can travel with. Large items, such as surfboards, may (but usually don’t) require payment of an additional fee.
Children and pets
Children up to the age of twelve travel with a car seat. If your family does not plan to travel with a child car seat, one (typically free of charge) can be requested through the private transfer service provider.
Pets (with the exception of guide dogs) are not permitted in private transfer service vehicles.
Private transfer services are priced per group, per one-way service. This is the biggest difference between private transfer services and shared shuttle services; private transfer services are not priced per person. Exact prices vary by route but generally fall in the $100-400 range. If you plan to travel with a group, you can divide the cost of the private transfer service across each group member. 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.
Private transfer services do not have set departure times; you’re free to select your own. Note that some private transfer service providers offer departure times 24-hours daily and others limit departure time selection to their regular operating hours, such as from 6:00am to 7:00pm, for example. If you need to arrange Costa Rica transportation according to a set schedule, private transfer services offer supreme flexibility.
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you used private transfer services in Costa Rica? What did you think?