La Fortuna to Monteverde shuttle boat shuttle
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How to Get from La Fortuna to Monteverde and Vice Versa

La Fortuna and Monteverde are two of the most popular and worth-it destinations in Costa Rica, and they, luckily, are located relatively close to each other.

However, getting between the two can be a bit challenging, as the roads in this region can be difficult to navigate. One option for transportation is the shuttle-boat-shuttle method, which involves taking a shuttle bus from La Fortuna to Arenal Lake, then a boat across the lake, and finally, another shuttle bus from the other side of the lake to Monteverde. (or visa-versa if coming from Monteverde)

Arenal lake views taking the boat from La Fortuna to Monteverde
Arenal lake views on the boat going from La Fortuna to Monteverde!

In this article, we’ll go over the step-by-step process for taking the shuttle-boat-shuttle option from La Fortuna to Monteverde and why it’s a great option for travelers. (Spoiler alert – it’s pretty much the only decent way to get between the towns!)

Shuttle-Boat-Shuttle Option From La Fortuna to Monteverde


Step 1: Book Your Shuttle

The first step in taking the shuttle-boat-shuttle option from La Fortuna to Monteverde is to book your shuttle. It’s best to book your shuttle in advance to ensure that you get a spot! Don’t delay, and get it booked after you’re done reading!

Want to check the schedule and price of this route? Check here:

Step 2: Depart from La Fortuna

Your shuttle will happily pick you up from your hotel or a central location in La Fortuna, which is HUGELY convenient.

Inside a shuttle bus going from La Fortuna to Monteverde
Inside a shuttle bus going from La Fortuna to Monteverde

From there, you’ll begin your journey toward Arenal Lake, which is about 30 minutes from town. Along the way, you’ll get to see some of the stunning scenery that Costa Rica is known for, as well as some of the best things to do La Fortuna. Hopefully, you got to see it all during your stay!

Step 3: Arrive at Arenal Lake

After about a half hour or so on the shuttle, you’ll arrive at Arenal Lake. This is where the boat portion of the journey begins. You’ll board a covered boat and take a scenic ride across the lake, which usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour. This is a great opportunity to take in the stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Boarding the boat at Lake Arenal
Boarding the boat at Lake Arenal—There’s no dock or anything, be prepared to walk a bit and lug your bag onto the boat.

Hopefully, Arenal is in full view, and it’s a clear day because this is one of the best opportunities to see the volcano. In fact, this boat is even better if you head from Monteverde to La Fortuna since the volcano will be in front of you the whole way to La Fortuna!

Arenal Lake and volcano views from the boat.
The views are definitely a perk, even on a gloomy day.

Step 4: Take the Second Shuttle

Once you arrive on the other side of the lake, you’ll take another shuttle to Monteverde. This ride typically takes about 1-2 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. During this portion of the trip, you’ll get to see even more of the beautiful countryside.

Shuttles waiting at the boat dock going to La Fortuna to Monteverde Costa Rica
Shuttles waiting at the boat dock going from La Fortuna to Monteverde, Costa Rica

There isn’t a main highway or anything. You’re on a small narrow road with cows in the way, road construction, and small towns to drive through. You’ll probably have a quick pitstop on this portion of the trip as well for snacks and to use the bathroom.

Step 5: Arrive in Monteverde

Finally, you’ll arrive in Monteverde, where you can explore all that the town has to offer. Whether you’re interested in hiking in the cloud forest, taking a zip line tour, or visiting the Monteverde Butterfly Garden, there’s plenty to do in Monteverde!

READ MORE/RELATED: Backpacking Costa Rica: Your Complete Guide!

Why Take The Shuttle-Boat-Shuttle Option From La Fortuna to Monteverde?

There are several reasons why the shuttle-boat-shuttle option is a great choice for travelers going from La Fortuna to Monteverde:

The shuttle buses are are comfortable going from La Fortuna to Monteverde
The shuttle buses are comfortable and have ac!
  1. Scenic Views: This transportation option offers some of the most stunning views in Costa Rica. You’ll get to see the majestic Arenal Volcano, the picturesque Arenal Lake, and the lush rainforests and mountains of the region. This is definitely the TOP reason!
  2. Convenient: This transportation option is relatively convenient, as it eliminates the need to navigate difficult roads in the region. Instead, you can sit back and enjoy the ride. Your other option would be to drive, and the roads around can get a bit more hectic, plus to cost of a rental vehicle.
  3. Affordable: The shuttle-boat-shuttle option is also affordable. There are some local buses that are cheaper but far more inconvenient, slower, and not very comfortable. Speaking of which…
  4. Comfortable: The shuttles and boats used for this transportation option are decent and comfortable, so you can relax and enjoy the ride. The shuttles are really nice, and they carry around 15 people—it’s not a huge crowded bus. There’s air-conditing as well. The boats are decent and looked in good condition and safe.

Check the schedule and book your shuttle-boat-shuttle trip here:

Tips for Taking the Shuttle-Boat-Shuttle Option From La Fortuna to Monteverde

If you’re planning to take the shuttle-boat-shuttle option from La Fortuna to Monteverde, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

Captain of the boat going to and from Monteverde and La Fortuna
Ai Ai Captain! (He was most definitely Facetiming his girlfriend half the time, but luckily, we were going slow. )
  1. Book in advance: As mentioned earlier, it’s best to book your shuttle in advance to ensure that you get a spot and to avoid any potential delays or cancellations.
  2. Dress appropriately: The weather in this region can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers and bring a rain jacket or poncho, just in case. It started raining heavily as soon as I got off the boat and ran into the shuttle!
  3. Pack snacks and water: While there may be opportunities to stop for food and drinks along the way, it’s a good idea to pack some snacks and water to keep you fueled throughout the journey. There will typically be one pit stop on this trip for a bathroom break and snacks though.
  4. Get the camera ready: With all of the stunning scenery along the way, you’ll definitely want to capture some photos. You’ll get some of the best views of Arenal from the boat, and you didn’t pay anything extra for the views! Just hope that Arenal is peeping out that day. I only got glimpses, but it was still beautiful! (And the last time I saw the peak during my visit, Arenal is elusive!)
  5. Be prepared for bumpy roads and waters: While the shuttles used for this transportation option are comfortable, the roads in this region can be bumpy, as can the boat ride! So it’s a good idea to bring motion sickness medication if you’re prone to motion sickness. I sometimes get car/sea sick as well, but I was fine on my ride.
Getting off the boat to grab a shuttle to and from Monteverde and La Fortuna
Ready for the next mode of transport!

Overall, the shuttle-boat-shuttle option from La Fortuna to Monteverde is a great choice for travelers looking to get from one town to the next. If you didn’t rent a car, this is the best option!

Check the schedule and book your shuttle-boat-shuttle trip here:

Are There Other Options For Getting to and From La Fortuna to Monteverde?

Most definitely! Here are your other choices if you’re interested…

Drive Yourself

Exploring Costa Rica by road offers a wonderful blend of safety and freedom. This route grants you the luxury of heading out at your convenience while providing opportunities to stop and take in the sights en route.

Driving La Fortuna to Monteverde with Lake Arenal in the distance
Driving from La Fortuna to Monteverde or vice versa will offer you the most freedom

Remember, an international driver’s license is a prerequisite for renting a vehicle here! You can easily pop into a AAA in the USA and for about $20 and five minutes of your time, you’ll be good to go.

The driving route from Arenal / La Fortuna to Monteverde:

  • Begin by following Route 142, tracing the path to Lake Arenal, and revel in the lakeside views. Stop for the views, or high tail it to town!
  • Approximately 2 hours of driving will lead you to Tilaran, a town that marks your midway point. Fill up your tank here!
  • From Tilaran, veer onto Route 145, a road that occasionally turns rugged (welcome to Costa!), guiding you up the mountainside.
  • Route 145 transitions into Route 606, a windy road guiding you to Monteverde. You made it!
  • Do these directions in the opposite direction if you’re going from Monteverde to La Fortuna.

Check here for car rental deals!

Public Bus

Getting from Monteverde to La Fortuna on a budget involves navigating the public transport system, but it’s not a straightforward journey. Departing early from Monteverde is necessary, as the journey to Arenal takes up a good chunk of the day.

People standing in line to board the bus La Fortuna to Monteverde
Buses are decent but the journey will take longer and be harder to figure out, especially if you don’t know Spanish.

To make this journey via public transportation, you’ll have to contend with the challenge of two bus transfers and some walking and waiting around, depending.

This will be the cheapest route BUT it will take at least half a day and knowing some Spanish is pretty essential to make this journey easier for you. Follow these directions in the opposite direction if you’re heading from La Fortuna to Monteverde.

Your route will go something like this…

  • Board the Monteverde – Tilaran bus (Route 145). Just show up, there isn’t a way to purchase tickets ahead of time. Buses depart at 7:10 am from Hotel El Sueno in Santa Elena. The fare is $1.50 (930 Costa Rican Colones), and the bus reaches Tilaran around 9 am.
  • Arriving at the Tilaran Terminal, secure tickets for the next leg: the Tilaran – La Fortuna bus (Route 142), approximately $5 per person. However, expect a waiting period before the La Fortuna bus departs. This bus leaves Tilaran at 12:15 pm, following Route 142 around Arenal’s Lake before reaching La Fortuna at approximately 3 pm.

So What’s The BEST Way to Get to and From La Fortuna to Monteverde?!

It’s all up to you! Here are my parting thoughts…

  • Driving offers the most freedom, but you have to rent a car, which some people are not comfortable doing abroad.
  • The public bus is a good budget option, but it eats away at your day, and if you don’t have some OK Spanish under your belt, it might get tricky. You also will have to walk a bit with your luggage or even have to take a taxi to the bus stops if your hotel isn’t close enough to the stop, making this option less budget-friendly in the end.
  • The shuttle-boat-shuttle option is what I did, and it was the easiest and least hectic of all the options. I got picked up and dropped off at my hotel and didn’t have to worry about a thing! This is the option I most recommend if you’re in a similar situation.

Check the schedule and book your shuttle-boat-shuttle trip here:

I hope this helped you get to and from La Fortuna and Monteverde!

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