A few remote Costa Rican communities in the southern area of Nicoya are accessed faster by taking your automobile across the Gulf of Nicoya with a ferry. All ferries take no more than an hour, and most are used to travel from Puntarenas to the Nicoya Peninsula. It is a good idea to get to the ferry station at least one hour in advance, or else you may be waiting again for a few hours to catch the next crossing.
There are three ferries that travel from Puntarenas to the southernmost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. One of these goes to Playa Naranjo - the tourist center of this area. The other two travel further south to Paquera. The Río Tempisque Ferry also travels to the Nicoya peninsula, but travels further north near the city of Nicoya and the beaches of Nosara and Sámara.
Here is some basic information, updated for 2002, on ferries in Costa Rica:
Playa Naranjo Ferry
Leaves daily from Puntarenas at 3:15, 7:00, 10:50 am, 2:50, and 7:00 pm;
and returns at 5:10, 8:50 am, 12:50, 5:00, and 9:00 pm. One-way fare is $1.50
per adult, $12 per car and driver and $15 for small trucks. The duration of
the trip is about an hour.
The Tambor Ferry
Leaves Puntarenas for Paquera daily at 5:00 am, 12:30, and 5:00 pm; and returns
at 8:00 am, 2:30, and 8:30 pm. One way first-class fare is $2.50 and second-class
is $1.25. A car is $12, a small truck is $15, and motorcycles are only $2.50.
A larger service that also goes to Paquera, and leaves Puntarenas at 8:45
am, 2:00 and 8:15 pm. The ferry returns at 6, 11:15 am, and 6:00 pm. A one
way ticket is $1.25 for adults, $9.25 for a car, $12.30 for a truck and $2.50
for a motorcycle.
Departs from Puerto Níspero and arrives near Barra Honda National Park in
about 25 minutes. The ferry departs every hour on the hour between 5:00 am
and 8:00pm and every two hours between 10:00 pm and 4:00 am. Return trips
are scheduled the same but the ferry departs on the half-hour. A one-way fare
is $2.75 for cars, $4.60 for small trucks, and passengers are free.