Did you mean?Try your search again
It is possible to travel from San José to Tortuguero by public transportation. In fact, it's rather challenging, a mini adventure in itself. You have to take a bus to Cariari, then another bus to La Pavona and finally a boat to Tortuguero. Buses to Cariari leave from the Gran Terminal del Caribe. I was told that the first one departs at 6am, so I took a taxi from Hostel Pangea at 5:30am. Once at the bus terminal, I found it was only at 7am. I thought of having a breakfast but all the facilities at the terminal were still closed. Fortunately, one of them opened a little before 7:00am so I could have a breakfast (a black coffee and cheese empanada) before departure. I took a Guapileños bus which was 1.390 colones (December 2010). It was an amazing journey through the dense rain forest of one of the most scenic regions of Costa Rica. Get a window seat if possible, the views are incredible. Later I discovered that it would be most convenient to take the 9am bus arriving around 11am in Cariari, and then the bus to La Pavona at noon (other buses leave at 6am and 3pm).
Cariari has two bus terminals: the one serving San José is at the southern end of town, while the small one serving Caribbean destinations is about five blocks north (closer to the centre), which is an easy walk. I bought a ticket at Coopetraca window to La Pavona (or Rancho La Suerte, how they call the docking area). It was an interesting ride through the banana plantations and the 'banana towns' that were first developed and operated by the Untied Fruit Company. The bus arrived in La Pavona around 1:30pm. Three companies provide transportation along this route: Clic Clic, Coopetraca and Bananero. Boats to Tortuguero are timed to meet the buses, so you won't have to wait long for your connection. Two boats were waiting at the dock at the edge of the river. I picked the one that looks more comfortable and safe, then payed on board. The fare is not regulated and the price can sometimes varies for foreigners. I payed around 3.000 colones (December 2010) for both, bus and boat. This was what locals payed as well. The boat normally takes about an hour and 15 minutes to reach Tortuguero. The last boat departs at around 4:30pm. Keep in mind that there aro no accommodations in La Pavona, but there is a restaurant at Rancho La Suerte where you can get a coffee and snack, and use the bathroom for a small fee.
Updated Sep 11, 2011
Tica Bus and Transnica have a few daily buses from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. They leave Granada from two different bus terminals on Avenida Elena Arellano. Both have first class buses and offer about the same service. There is another company, King Quality, which seems to have a slightly better service but the price is almost double. After a little consideration I decided for Tica Bus. I was traveling on 29 December. In the time around Christmas and the New Year a lot of people travel so the buses get full quickly. I booked almost 10 days in advance at Tica Bus office. From Granada to San José it was 23 US $. To my surprise, most of the seats were already booked. Happy to have my bus ticket to Costa Rica safely in a pocket, I did not need to worry about this anymore.
I took a 7am bus which arrived from Managua with a little delay. All the passengers had to sign in at Tica Bus office before departure. We crossed the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica at Peñas Blancas. That was quite an experience. First we stopped on Nicaraguan side and there were already a lot of buses. The driver took our passports and we had to wait until the border formalities were done. Locals were running around trying to change different currencies (US dollars, cordobas and colones), selling coffee and various snacks. There was also the toilet. I changed the remains of cordobas into colones and had a coffee. It took even longer on the side of Costa Rica. The line of people waiting to get their passports stamped looked endless, and there was another one for bag control.
All went fine and after almost three hours we were on the bus again heading to San José. The whole journey from Granada to San José should take about eight hours but we had about two hours delay and only arrived at 5pm. From the terminal I took a taxi to Hostel Pangea where I was going to overnight. Taxi driver was very friendly. I asked him if there was an ATM where I could withdraw some money that I needed and he stopped at the petrol station on the way to the hostel. For the taxi I paid 5.000 colones (December 2010).
Updated Sep 5, 2011
To fly home from SJO in San Jose you have to pay a $26 departure tax.
The counter where you pay this indicates that they accept VISA, among other credit cards. However, they DO NOT actually swipe it as a regular credit card. Instead, they charge it as a CASH ADVANCE. They don't tell you this either, they just swipe it and give you the paper that indicates that you have "paid" so that you can get on your flight.
You will have to pay off your card immediately when you arrive back home in order to negate any finance charges that will begin to grow from the cash advance. I caught mine early and it only got up to $0.30 (30 cents) but if I hadn't paid attention it could have gotten a lot worse.
So try to pay the departure tax in cash (they accept both USD and Colones) if you can. If not, pay off your card as soon as you get home to avoid the finance charge from the cash advance that they will charge it as.
Updated May 17, 2011
San José especially is not a place to be driving a car in Costa Rica. It is a big city - a lot of traffic and many of the streets are one way - confusing to the visitor.
Calles (streets in Spanish) run from north to south, while the Avenidas are from east to west. Any Avenida north of the central avenue are going to be an odd number, while the Avenidas south of the central Avenida are even, beginning with the number 2. So Avenida 4 would be two blocks south of Central Avenue.
Even in San Jose, there are no street signs, often no street lights, no addresses except maybe a Calles and east or west of an Avenida. Outside of the central city, there is not even a grid system of streets.
Take taxis if possible, especially at night. They are cheap and everywhere
Updated Apr 7, 2010
You will be hounded when you arrive at the airport by persons wanting to drive you to your hotel. Know that a good amount of these people are not certified taxi drivers (even if they carry a badge). It is safest to get a certified taxi, however I was taken into town by a non-certified taxi driver and paid about the same amount. He took interest into explaining to us things about the city and selling himself to us as a possiblity for future service. These people are just trying to make a living too. However you can't be as certain about the safety, best if you go in groups with these folks.
If you get a hotel in downtown San Jose most attractions are within walking distance. (Most museums and parks) I felt pretty safe walking around in daytime, aside from the occassional harassment or trickster. For journeys beyond San Jose hire a taxi driver, this is really easy, but always arrange on a fare beforehand, and plan on him/her finding a way to jack up the price an extra little bit at the end. You can get to La Fortuna for around 100$ or less
Written Jun 3, 2008
Cartago is located just east from the capital of Costa Rica, San José and it is a very nice destination for a daytrip from here. It takes only a short busride to get there: in less then 30 minutes (depending on the traffic in the capital) you can be in Cartago already. And busses depart every day, every hour, all day long.
The busses to Cartago depart at the corner of Calle Central and Avenida 3 and cost you only 50 cents. Tickets can be bought in the bus itself, so you don't have to look for any ticket office.
When you want to go back to San José, take the bus in Cartago just north from the Parque Central.
Written May 25, 2008
When you are travelling to the north from San José, you will almost always have to take a bus to the the city Ciudad Quesada (also known as San Carlos) first. From here busses depart to all parts of the area like the bordertown Los Chiles and the touristtown La Fortuna. Busses to Ciudad Quesada run very often from the Altantico Norte busstation (every 60 minutes).
This trip takes about 2,5 hours and costs about 4 dollars. You arrive at the central busstation of Ciudad Quesada, just outside town. When you want to stay here you'd best take a taxi to the centre, otherwise; change busses here to any direction.
Written May 25, 2008
When you are coming from San José and you are heading for the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica, you will have to go to the so called "Caribe Terminal" in the capital. From here busses depart to several destinations in the eastcoast of the country. One destination these busses will always go to is Puerto Limón. This is the biggest city in this part of the country and one of the biggest in the whole of Costa Rica.
The busride from the capital to Puerto Limón takes about 3,5 hours and costs 2000 Colones: about 4 dollars. From here you can take a connecting bus further south to the villages Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, Bribri and others. From here you can also get a bus directly to the border with Panama.
At the Caribe busstation in San José there are also busses that cover the complete distance to Cahuita, Puerto Viejo or the border. These busses run less frequently, bus if you miss one of these busses it is always easy to get another connection once you are in Limón.
Written May 25, 2008
Not an easy exercise.
Roads have huge potholes and drivers seems to just go where they want without warning. You have to be alert.
The city is in a complicated one way system. Signs are not always visible (or even existing). The best thing is to plan your route ahead of your journey.
If you miss your turning, it can be very hard to find your destination as there are few places to turn around, and the one way system leaves you guessing.
Avoid the smaller roads by the markets. Trucks stop for ages to unload, and there is no way past. Cars behind honk and vent their fury at you in Spanish. We felt a little intimidated here, stuck inbetween 2 cars, ripe for a car jacking, though nothing happened.
Finally, parking. You MUST use secure car parks or you will find your car is stolen. They are not that cheap, but $10 for a few hours peace of mind is worth it. If leaving it overnight, negotiate the rate. Even with little Spanish, we managed to get a half price deal for 24 hours parking right next to our hotel. If you agree a price, get it written down as the guy who lets you enter may not be on duty when you return.
Oh, and don't leave your keys with them.
Written Jun 2, 2007
There are official airport taxis from the airport, you can not miss them, they are bright orange, you go to the office just outside the airport and tell them where you want togo and pay there, they will allocate you a driver, you donot have to pay the taxi driver, unless youwant to tip them. A trip from the airport to hotel vesuvio (near the zoo) cost me 9800 colones
Written May 31, 2007
Hotel Santo Tomas San José
4 Reviews and 278 Opinions Very friendly an to other d helpful staff. The newer rooms are excellent. good value relative...
Grano De Oro Hotel San José
2 Reviews and 670 Opinions I arrived at Hotel De Oro on December 28, 2008 at lunch with 3 other friends. We decided to have...
Adventure Inn San José
3 Reviews and 1173 Opinions We stayed at the Adventure Inn for one night in early September. It was the last day of our visit to...