Mal Pais Getting There
Domestic airlines Sansa and Nature Air both make the half hour flight from San Jose to Tambor. Mal Pais and Santa Teresa are an hour-long drive from Tambor.
Buses depart daily from the Coca Cola Station in San Jose at 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. for the 5.5-hour journey to Mal Pais/Santa Teresa. Buses cross the scenic Gulf of Nicoya via ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera. The cost is $12.50 and includes the ferry fee. (Transportes Rodriguez Tel: 2642-0219)
From all along Santa Teresa’s main road, buses depart daily for San Jose at 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The cost is $12.50 and includes the ferry fee.
From San Jose, take the Caldera Highway west to Puntarenas. From there, take the ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya to the town of Paquera. The ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera runs at 5, 9 and 11 a.m. and 1, 3, and 5 and 9 p.m.; the current rate is $1.50 for an adult passenger, $1 for children, $4 for a motorcycle and $12.50 for a car. Call ahead to check for schedule changes. (Ferry: Naviera Tambor tel. 2661-2084) From Paquera, drive about 20 miles to Cobano, where you’ll follow signs for seven miles to Mal Pais and Santa Teresa.
Coming from the Guanacaste region, the Puntarenas route is also recommended. The journey via the mainland to Naranjo and then down to Paquera looks shorter on the map, but in reality, it is not. The road conditions from Naranjo to Paquera are poor, so taking the Puntarenas ferry remains your best bet.
From Samara and the coastal towns of Guanacaste, it is sometimes possible in the driest part of the dry season (December through April) to take the seaside road leading south through Samara, Carillo, Punta Islita, Coyote, and finally Santa Teresa.
The Bongo River often blocks the path just before Santa Teresa, so be sure to ask directions. Because driving through rivers is mandatory, this route can be hazardous and is not recommended. This journey is especially risky in a rental car, which can incur large fines for traversing rivers.