Travel Arenal to Monteverde, Boat-Van

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Travel Arenal to Monteverde, Boat-Van


There are several ways to travel from  Arenal to  Monteverde.   The easiest and quickest is to take the boat-van  transfer.   Board  a boat on Lake Arenal and then pick up a mini van at the other end of the lake- then a 1.5 hour bumpy ride on a dirt gravel road to Santa Elena -Monteverde.  (this is done by purchasing for around $30 from a tour company which picks you up at your hotel and takes you to Lake Arenal where you  board the covered boat.

All the major tour companies sell this transfer.  We choose Desafio Tour Company which has an office in La Fortuna.

Also you can get to Monteverde from Arenal by horseback.  But this is not for the “faint at heart”  Its around six hours and if recently rained  you stromp through a lot of mud.  This can be purchased from Desafio Tour company in La Fortuna.

If you are renting a car I do not recommend the drive from Arenal to Monteverde on the “back road” via Tiliran.  This is a very bad dirt gravel road filled with potholes-a tough drive and don’t even atempt it without a 4×4 vehicle.  Takes around 5 hours from the Arenal volcano to get to Santa Elena-Monteverde.  Fill up with gasoline before departing.

You can drive your rental car back through San Ramon-take Highway 1 North.  Past the Puntarenas turn off — go approx 8 miles (you are still on Highway 1) LOOK for the sign to Monteverde-  this is a paved road, turning into a dirt gravel road for the last ten miles.


On a sunny April morning , we recently made the trip from Volcano Lodge in Arenal to Rustic Lodge in Monteverde by Boat-Van.   Around 9 a.m. we were  picked up by Desafio Tour’s mini van  and driven to Arenal Lake where we boarded a 30 passenger small  covered boat.  The Journey across Lake Arenal was beautiful, the sun shining on the dark blue water produced a mirror image of the puffy white clouds hovering over the mountains.  The loud iry sound of howler monkeys  came from the dense primary forest on the north face of Lake Arenal.  And the mighty Arenal was so clear, casting it’s shadow across the Lake.  After a  short  ride across the lake,  we boarded a small mini van for the ride of our lives.  The road is dirt and gravel with hair pin curves.  So we bumpted our way straight up the mountain, passing serene landscapes of small villages and dairy farms.  Age old rain forest trees dotted the landscape,  such as the strangler fig-with three meter wide buttresses.  We felt like time stood still in this isolated rugged place called Monteverde.  Finally we were there and we all agreed-yes, a great adventure!    Our tired bodies checked into Rustic Lodge, promptly took a hot shower and lay down for a long nap.

Then the real fun began.  A very large gondola transported us slowly up to the top of a high mountain.  A gorgeous  day with heavy mist.  We were actually in a cloud and  we could distantly  see the Gulf of Nicoya to the West.   A group of black howler monkeys were serenading each other a few trees from our Sky Tram gondola.  And six large white graceful birds were building their nest from the twigs of a stranger fig tree. Our guide called them “scissor tail Kites”   (This  tour is called the Sky Tram)

I was a little frightened to “zip” back down  (Sky Trek)so we boarded the gondola gliding back down the mountain with views of green everywhere-a Real Rainforest!

We wanted to experience the Sky Walk where  we could experience up close a Real Rainforest.  Suspended bridges high up over the rain forest canopy where  we could actually reach out and touch the trees-  Hundreds of species  including the famous tree ferns were everywhere, almost too much for the eyes to behold!

At the end of the day-WOW!  a truly glorious day.

You can read more about what great tours Desafio Tour company offers both in Arenal and Monteverde    I highly recommend them.

Thinking of vacationing in Costa Rica?  Let Ann help you plan your itinerary to Arenal and combine it with Monteverde.     She  know the area very well and will save you time and money–Guaranteed!

Contact Ann at

Boat-Van Arenal to Monteverde

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