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Using the relatively new limited access toll road to the Pacific Coast, the trip to Puntarenas from the airport in San Jose is about 75 – 90 minutes compared to 2 hours to 2.5 hours on the Pan-American Highway.
You will need a small amount of Colones (2,000 colones should be enough) for the tolls. You can get colones at the currency exchange in the baggage claim area of the airport or the rental car company may exchange colones for dollars.
You need to be on the airport access road across from the terminal. If you rent a car you will probably be taken to the rental agency off the airport location. Very few rental companies bring the car to the airport. If you are renting a car from one of these rental companies or coming from San Jose, you need to return to the airport on the Pan-American Highway. Stay in the very left lane on this main highway and take the airport exit.
Follow the airport access road, until you are almost to the end. Turn right on the very last road before the turnaround at the end of the median where you are forced to turn back to the airport terminal. If you miss this turn-off, go around the loop again.
After you have turned , you will be on a frontage/access road that parallels the highway. Follow this road without turning off it. You will come up a hill and join a main road in a small town - keep going straight. - follow this road without turning for a fair distance (estimating 5 km; about 7 minutes) as it winds through towns/neighborhoods. The road eventually makes a long turn to the left, and a park with a playground with multi-colored kids playground equipment is on the left. Another main road forms a T-intersection with the road you are on to the right. Take the right hand turn.
Follow this road (estimating 3 km) to its end at a stop or yield sign at a traffic circle. You will be going part way round this traffic circle to the left, taking the main right hand exit that joins the new highway to Orotina & Puntarenas, the third exit on the traffic circle, and is pretty obvious that it goes down to the highway.
Follow the highway to Puntarenas. When you get to Caldera you will drive along the ocean with a long beach. Stay in the right hand lane after this beach and watch for the right hand exit to Puntarenas. The exit is not far from the Doubletree La Fiesta Resort which will be on your left. The sign is hidden behind a tree and not visible until you are almost past it. If you pass it, go another 2 km to the Maxi Bodega store and gas station on your left, turn in there and then head back to the Puntarenas turn-off.
Once on the Puntarenas road, follow it for a long way. The peninsula of Puntarenas is very long and narrow. You will pass a Shell gas station, then the cathedral, then the stadium. You will see signs on your right for the ferries.
Turn right at the sign for the ferries to Playa Naranjo and Paquera. Follow the street to the end, then turn left. This is a very small street with not much on it along the back of the waterfront. If cars are lined up on the right-hand side, pull in at the back of the line. Otherwise, proceed to the stop sign at the intersection where the ferries are on the right side and park at the stop sign.
The ticket booth is directly across the street from this stop sign. Keep in mind the ticket agent likely speaks no English, and you will want tickets for "Uno Liviano" (one vehicle) and "XX Personas" (XX people - Adultos for Adults, Ninos for children). You will need a ticket for every adult, even the driver since the vehicle is separate. When loading, the driver alone can be in the car with the vehicle and personal ticket. The other people will have to walk on with their tickets.
Please note: Buy tickets only at ticket booth – there are sometimes people trying to sell tickets which are much more expensive!