By Plane: The nearest airport is in Golfito. To get from the airport to Playa Zancudo, your best bets are by boat or taxi.
By Boat: Water taxis can be hired in Golfito to make the trip out to Playa Zancudo; however, trips depend on the tides and weather conditions. When the tide is high, the boats take a route through the mangroves. This is by far the calmest and most scenic way to get to Zancudo. When the tide is low, they must stay out in the gulf, which can get choppy at times. It costs around $20 to $25 per person for a water taxi, with a $40 minimum. If you can round up any sort of group, be sure to negotiate. The ride takes about 30 minutes.
Also, a passenger launch from the muellecito (little dock) in Golfito normally leaves at noon daily or every other day, depending on the season. The trip takes 30 minutes, and the fare is C6,000. The muellecito is next to the town’s principal gas station, La Bomba.
If you plan ahead, you can call Zancudo Boat Tours (tel. www.loscocos.com; 2776-0012) and arrange for pickup in Golfito or Puerto Jiménez. The trip costs $20 per person each way from Golfito or Puerto Jiménez, with a $60 minimum. Zancudo Boat Tours also includes land transportation to your hotel in Playa Zancudo—a very nice perk because the town has so few taxis.
By Car: If you’ve got a four-wheel-drive vehicle, Zancudo is reachable even in the rainy season. To get here, follow the directions for driving to Golfito, but don’t go all the way into town. The turnoff for playas Zancudo and Pavones is at El Rodeo, about 4km (2 1/2 miles) outside of Golfito, on the road in from the Interamerican Highway. Roads are unpaved and rough; follow the few signs and the flow of traffic (if there is any) or stick to the most worn route when in doubt, and don’t be afraid to ask for directions.
An alternative route from Paso Canoas (at the border) is via the towns of La Cuesta and Laurel. This route meets the route mentioned above at the small village of Conte.
A four-wheel-drive taxi costs around $75 from Golfito. It takes about 1 hour when the road is in good condition, and about 2 hours when it’s not.
Park It: If you drive down to Golfito, you can leave your car at Samoa del Sur and take one of the waterborne routes mentioned above. They charge around $10 per day, and the lot is very secure.
By Bus: It’s possible to get to Zancudo by bus, but I highly recommend coming by boat from Golfito, or your own car. If you insist, there’s one daily bus leaving Golfito for Zancudo at 3pm. Alternately, you can catch one of the Pavones buses and get off in the village of Conte. In theory, a Zancudo–bound bus should be waiting. However, this is not always the case, and you may have to wait, hitchhike, or spring for a cab, if any can be found. The entire trip takes about 3 hours; the fare is around $3.50.
Departing: The public launch to Golfito leaves daily at 7am from the dock near the school, in the center of Zancudo. You can also arrange a water taxi back to Golfito, but it’s best to work with your hotel owner and make a reservation at least a day in advance. Zancudo Boat Tours will take you for $20 per person, with a $60 minimum. Zancudo will also take you to the Osa Peninsula for the same $20 per person, with a $60 minimum. The bus to Golfito leaves Zancudo each morning at 5:30am. You can catch the bus anywhere along the main road.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.