Santa Elena, North Puntarenas

Lying in the northern areas of Puntarenas province in the Tilaran Cordillera, Santa Elena is a small town located a few kilometers north from the breathtaking Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve.

One of Costa Rica’s most visited nature and wildlife reserves, this cloud forest is a big tourist attraction.

Santa Elena is the closet township to the reserve and is often used by visitors as a stopover when exploring this stunning region and its spectacular vistas.

Town of Santa Elena

Sharing its name with the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve that is found nearby (around 5 km), the town of Santa Elena is has a tiny downtown area.

Here one can find plenty of luxury and budget hotels, lodges and accommodations, as well as a bus stop, bank, health clinic, grocery store, souvenir store and tour offices of various travel agencies.

Downtown Santa Elena is quite often full of backpackers, this town also has a post office, police station, supermarket, bar and a number of inexpensive restaurants.


From town, horseback-riding tours of the Monteverde and Santa Elena Reserves can be organized along with hiking trips and canopy tours of the surrounding areas. A popular way to tour both these cloud forests’ skywalk tours can also be arranged.

Cold and wet most of the year, it is important that you wear warm clothing when coming here.

Along the road from Santa Elena, leading up to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, there are a number of attractions including hiking in the amazing reserve, a beautiful butterfly garden, hummingbird gardens, a bat museum, a fascinating serpentarium and some lovely local art galleries.

Quakers & Cheese

Founded by the Quaker community who came here from the United States in the 1950’s, Santa Elena is known throughout the region for its incredibly delicious cheese.

La Lecheria is the local cheese factory in neighboring Monteverde that produces thirteen different varieties of cheese, including the popular Monte Rico.

Getting to Santa Elena

To get to Santa Elena it is best to rent a car and drive here either from San Jose Metro Area or from the Northern Pacific Coast and then drive out here.

However, an alternative option would be to fly into the capital San Jose and then take a 3-hour long drive out to here, enjoying some fantastic scenery along the way.

Around Beautiful Costa Rica Tour
10 Days / 9 Nights
Starting at $1,193 per person
Costa Rica Cloud Forest & Arenal Volcano Tour
6 Days / 5 Nights
Starting at $1,018 per person
Travel Time Clock
Travel Time
Travel Time From:
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Distance: 4 miles / 7 km
Drive Time: 12 min
Distance: 86 miles / 137 km
Drive Time: 2 hr 30 min
Distance: 8 miles / 12 km
Drive Time: 18 min
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Where to Stay near Santa Elena

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Hotel Costa Verde
Starting at $160 / night
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Hacienda AltaGracia Auberge Resort
Starting at $275 / night
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Casitas Sollevante
Starting at $62 / night
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Parador Nature Resort & Spa
Starting at $244 / night
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Villa Lapas Jungle Village
Starting at $70 / person
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Fiesta Resort Central Pacific - All Inclusive
Starting at $186 / night
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Amapola Hotel
Starting at $117 / night
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Banana Beach Bungalows
Starting at $285 / night

Things to Do near Santa Elena

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El Santuario Canopy Adventure Tour
Starting at $75 / tour
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Efrain's Nature Tours
Starting at $55 / tour
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Adventure Flights Costa Rica
Starting at $150 / tour
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El Trapiche Tour
Starting at $33 / tour
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Vista Los Sueños Rainforest Tours
Starting at $65 / tour