On the surface level, taking the Ferry Paquera sounds pretty simple. Just buy a ticket and board the ferry, right? It’s actually a little more complicated once you get there. First, you have the ferry terminal location, Puntarenas. It is a notoriously sketchy town (which is NOT typical of Costa Rica at all, if I would say so) that you definitely wouldn’t want to spend extra time in. Then there is the question of “Where is the ticket office?” or “Where is the vehicle line?” All these questions will be answered in this post.
Disclaimer: There are 2 ferry routes leaving from Puntarenas, one to Paquera, and the other to the northern part of the Nicoya Peninsula. I will only be talking about the Paquera route.
There are no affiliate links in this post. Every link you see is purely informational!
The ferry ride takes about 1.5 hours. The schedules for the routes there and back are identical, except for the last run. I listed all the times for both directions below.
Puntarenas to Paquera
The ferry leaves from the Puntarenas Ferry Terminal every day at 5:30, 9:00, 12:00, 18:00, and 20:30.
Paquera to Puntarenas
The ferry leaves Paquera every day at 5:30, 9:00, 12:00, 15:00, 18:00, and 20:00.
For the purpose of this post, I’m only sharing the 3 types of rates that I know for sure are relevant.
- Adult – CRC 810 ($1.21)
- Child – CRC 485 ($0.72)
- Light Vehicle – CRC 11,400 + 13% VAT ($19.18)
All other types of vehicle rates are listed here. Please note as well that vehicles are charged VAT while people are not.
Puntarenas to Paquera
Using Waze, you can just search for “Ferry Paquera” and it’ll come up.
But if you’re searching by address, this will be enough to get you there under any navigation system: Ferry Paquera, Puntarenas Province, Punta Arenas, Costa Rica
For maximum accuracy and peace of mind, here are the coordinates: 9.9778682, -84.8484847
There are two ways to purchase ferry tickets, online and in person.
One point to note: You cannot purchase your tickets online less than 2 hours before your desired departure time. So, if you’re taking a super spontaneous trip, you’ll have to do so in person. If you’re using public transportation and won’t be crossing with a car, I’d say you have nothing to worry about. The human capacity is rarely ever full from what I’ve heard.
First, visit Quickpay CR, the online portal for ferry tickets. The website is all in Spanish, but not to worry. I will walk you through everything.
Above is the first page you will see on the website. For Salida y Destino, select from the drop-down menu which direction you’re going… to Paquera or back to Puntarenas. Then select the date of travel.
After putting in your destination and date, select the time you’d like to take the ferry. Then click “Siguiente.”
After clicking Siguiente, you will see another dropdown menu that prompts you to choose “Vehículo” or “Personas.” If you’re traveling without a car, choose personas.
If you have a rental car, choose the first option that says “Vehículo Liviano” which literally means “Light Vehicle.” Then you’ll be prompted to put in the number of your party below. If you chose “personas” then you’ll only need to put in the number of people. After you’re done, click “Siguiente” again.
On the next page, put in your information as shown in the photo above. If you’re renting a car and don’t yet know your plate number, you’re okay to put in “rentalcar” or any random 6-digit number.
Right below the email address field, you’ll see a button that says “Datos para Factura.” This is a button you must click before you can proceed to the next page.
A window will pop up like in the photo above. But it’s asking for national identification. So unless you’re a Costa Rican citizen, leave all fields blank and click “Sin Factura” at the bottom.
Check the box to accept the terms and conditions, then click “Comprar” and you’ll be redirected to the payment page for purchase.
I didn’t buy my tickets online because I didn’t know any better. And buying tickets on-site was the most confusing part for me… Mainly because I ran into 2 accidents and massive traffic on my way to Puntarenas, and ended up missing my 3 pm ferry by 2 minutes…
Without a Car
If you’re coming without a car, the ticket office will be directly opposite the gates to the platform. It’s a tiny little booth hidden inside an unsuspecting local bakery. Photo below. The booth opens about 1.5 to 2 hours before each ferry departs. As soon as it opens, you can grab yourself a ticket and head straight onto the ferry.
With a Car
Before you continue, if you’re planning to rent a car, or have rented one, I’ve laid out all I know about renting a car and driving in Costa Rica.
Things are a little different when you’re coming with a car, of course. The street that goes by the terminal is one-way. So just make sure to go around the long way until you emerge at the beginning of it.
I’d suggest passing by the terminal gate once at first to see where everything is. Right before you reach the gate, you will see a line of cars to your left that are parallel-parked along the street. It looks like they’ve parked their cars to go to the beach, but some of them are actually holding their place in line to board the ferry.
This is a smart move. I recommend arriving at least 1.5 hours before your boarding time if you haven’t purchased your ticket online. The car space is known to fill up, especially during holidays. If there is no space left, you’ll simply have to keep waiting for another 3 hours to board the next one. Not ideal…
I also recommend having snacks in your car to last you until you board the ferry. Trust me, you don’t want to be looking for a place to “grab snacks and chill” in Puntarenas.
Pay attention to when the cars in front of you start moving. As some cars in line are actually there for the beaches. Once you get to the gate, a ticket holder will give you a card with your vehicle type on it and direct you to park your car in line.
Once you’ve parked in line, leave the car and head over to the ticket office across the street. Hand over your vehicle card to get your actual ticket, then return to your car and wait to board.
Boarding the Ferry
If you’ve purchased your ticket online, please make sure to still arrive AT LEAST 30 minutes before departure time or you may be denied boarding if the car space is filled up. Once at the gate, show your online ticket to the ticket person and you will be given a hard copy ticket.
Once you’ve gotten through the nitty-gritty process of getting tickets and waiting in line, the boarding process should be a breeze. The staff will just wave you over to wherever they want you to park on the ferry.
Once on the ferry, I recommend going upstairs to the lounge where everyone is. You can either sit outside along the corridors or inside where there’s a snack bar you can enjoy.
Paquera to Puntarenas
The process is more or less the same for the ferry back, if anything, it’s much easier. There is nothing around the ferry terminal in Paquera. So the entrance, the ticket office, and the line of cars can be spotted very easily.
Paquera Ferry Landing – R3HW+VH6, 621, La Nicoyana, Provincia de Puntarenas, Paquera, Costa Rica
The process is exactly the same going back. So if you’ve made it this far into the post, you’re all good!
Hope this post helps you become less nervous than I was snooping around the ticket booth and lines of cars!
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