28. Quepos Airport
GETTING TO SAN JOSE
A trip from our South Pacific towns to San Jose can be a long ordeal; 4 hours when the going is good and much longer when there is traffic, construction, landslips, floods or road closures. And while the drive is absolutely beautiful, a big chunk of the road is a single lane highway, parts of which are not always maintained to the best of standards. Traffic can be backed up for miles, especially if a slow truck is holding up dozens of cars behind it. Fully loaded trucks descending steep hills slow to a crawl, their engine brakes blaring. Localised flooding, due to passing thunderstorms or tropical systems, can close the highway for hours (or even days). So unless the conditions are perfect, and you leave early in the morning, there can be a few headaches along the way!
A BETTER ALTERNATIVE!
BUT there is an alternative – a small local airport, located in QUEPOS, offering numerous daily flights to San Jose by SANSA Airlines. It is known locally as Quepos Airport and officially as Aeropuerto La Managua. The flights take about 15 minutes – compare that to the 3+ hours of driving time between QUEPOS and SAN JOSE and suddenly this alternative becomes a very appealing choice! And Quepos is not too far away – 1 hr from Ojochal, 55 min from Uvita, or 35 minutes from Dominical.
At the time of writing SANSA is offering four non-stop daily flights to San Jose, and non-stop flights to Drake Bay are also available. SANSA serves a number of Costa Rican airports as well as Managua in Nicaragua, with many connections available from San Jose. The airline serves Costa Rican towns of Bahia Drake, Golfito, La Fortuna, Liberia, Limon, Nosara, Palmar, Puerto Jimanez, Quepos, San Jose, Tamarindo, Tambor, and Tortuguero, operating ten 14-seater aircraft.
Costa Rica Green Airways offers two daily flights between Quepos and San Jose.
Hard to believe, but this tiny airport is the 4th busiest in Costa Rica, and 2nd busiest if you consider domestic-only airports. Private and charter flights are available from this airport, and at times I have seen a business jet or two parked on the little tarmac!
OUR LOCAL AIRPORT
The Quepos Airport is located right outside the build-up area surrounding Quepos, along the Costanera highway. Parking is available on the extended shoulder of the highway, right in front of the airport fence. It is not plentiful, but does not need to be as the planes are small, the traffic light and I have never seen a full carpark. But be VERY CAREFUL here – as you are stepping out of the parked car and retrieving your luggage, the costanera traffic is whizzing by, at high speed, a metre or two away – so take care and be especially mindful of pets and children.
The airport is entered through a small security shack. In the past only passengers were allowed to pass through for free with those accompanying the passengers being charged a small fee – though recently this is no longer enforced. But you never know – so small change should be carried if people are coming to see you off.
The terminal building is very small and simple, open to the breeze and holding check-in desks, a waiting area with plastic chairs and, at the rear, toilet facilities. A picnic table, under an impressing large tree, provides for a much nicer environment as you wait for your plane to arrive.
When it is time to fly, a gently descending concrete ramp guides passengers towards the tarmac. Rusty luggage carts, pulled by airport workers, follow closely behind.
The commercial airplanes operating out of Quepos are small – usually single-engine, you will need to bend down when taking your seat as headroom is very limited (at least for the grown-ups)! The pilots speak directly to the passengers who sit just behind the cockpit and have a full view of the controls and flight instruments. It is a very fun way to fly as the planes do not climb to a high altitude, allowing for amazing views of the surrounding towns, hills, mountains and jungles – the flight is an experience in itself.
Quepos airport is located approximately 3 km or 2 miles to the east of central Quepos. It has one asphalt runway, 1340 meters or 4400 feet in length and 11 meters or 36 feet in width, sitting 26 meters, or 85 feet, above sea level.