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Getting Around Costa Rica - Help!

Chicago, Illinois
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Getting Around Costa Rica - Help!

Hi there,

My friend and I will be traveling to Costa Rica in late November - early December, and we plan to visit San Jose (just for a night), La Fortuna and Jaco. My question is this: what's the easiest and most cost-efficient way to travel around the country?

Public transportation is appealing b/c of the low cost, but I've heard that taking public buses can add hours to your journey due to road conditions and stops/transfers. Private shuttles, such as Interbus, seem quite expensive! I've priced out traveling to/from those three locations, and it looks like it'll push us back ~ $140.

What about renting a car? I like the freedom associated with having a car... I imagine it will make day trips easier if we have one at our disposal. However, I've heard driving conditions in Costa Rica are a bit iffy (that said, we won't be driving at night). I have experience off-roading on steep mountain roads, so I imagine if I can handle that, I can handle anything! Your thoughts? And would we need 4WD?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much!

Kelsi

Costa Rica
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1. Re: Getting Around Costa Rica - Help!

Kelsi: You can have it cheap...... or you can have it convenient...... but not both.

I don't get your comment about public bus and "bad roads." Taxis and shuttles and private drivers and rental cars and public buses all use the same roads. But yes, buses will make more stops.

Some public bus routes are easier than others and some are more complicated - involving two or more transfers and a lot of time. But from Alajuela (where the airport is located) to La Fortuna (Arenal) on the public bus doesn't take a lot more time than using a shuttle or rental car and is a LOT cheaper.

Also -- there's no reason to have it all one way. You could take the public bus to La Fortuna, rent a car for your days there (things are kind of spread out) and then take the public bus or shuttle to Jaco.

This is a helpful website for bus information: www.thebusschedule.com/cr/

This will tell you distances and travel times: www.yourtravelmap.com

This is a good source of information (and booking) for shared van shuttles: www.anywherecostarica.com or www.interbusonline.com

For rental cars, take a look at Vamos or Wild Rider. They are both good agencies and have some great deals sometimes. For renting a car in La Fortuna, look at Alamo or National (the Costa Rican agency and not the US agency) or www.fortunawelcome.com

If you decide to try the public bus, let us know and we can give you detailed information on how to do that.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Getting Around Costa Rica - Help!

Thanks so much, Hattie!

We've discussed, and renting a car is off the table. I think your suggestion regarding mixing it up - taking public buses and shuttles - is a good one! We will need to get from the airport in Alajuela to downtown San Jose, from downtown San Jose to La Fortuna, from La Fortuna to Jaco, and lastly, from Jaco to Alajuela.

For sure, we'll need a private shuttle from Jaco to Alajuela in order to make our afternoon flight. But what legs of the trip do you suggest taking a public bus? Of course, we're looking to spend as little time as possible in a vehicle so we can get out and enjoy the beautiful country! I'm willing to pay more for a shuttle if it cuts travel time in half, but maybe there are legs of the trip where taking a public bus is comparable in time to taking a shuttle? Any suggestions would be great!

Also, any detailed info you have regarding what buses to take, bus station locations, etc., would be super helpful!!

Thanks,

Kelsi

Costa Rica
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3. Re: Getting Around Costa Rica - Help!

Why are you going from the airport to San Jose and then to La Fortuna? You will be backtracking if you do this. Much better just to stay somewhere in Alajuela. Look at a map.....

If you stay in Alajuela: The next morning, take a taxi to the bus station in Alajuela known as La Radial. You can get the bus here for La Fortuna. Buses going north stop here to pick up more passengers.

If you look at www.thebusschedule.com/cr/ for buses from San Jose to La Fortuna, add about 1/2 an hour and that's when the bus should arrive at La Radial.

Alternatively, just get any bus going to San Carlos (known as Ciudad Quesada on thebusschedule.com) and then transfer to the bus for La Fortuna.

If you are truly determined to stay in San Jose, just ask at your lodging for a taxi and tell him you want the bus for La Fortuna and he will take you to the correct station.

To get the bus from the airport to San Jose: exit the terminal and walk across the street towards the parking garage. Once you reach the sidewalk there, turn left and follow that sidewalk around to the "main" street. Look to your right and you will see bus stop kiosks - go there. Look for the red and white bus Tuasa that says "San Jose" on the front. You will pay the driver in colones. You can get colones at an ATM before you leave the airport terminal. (There's at least one in the baggage claim area)

You can take the bus from La Fortuna to Jaco, but a shared van shuttle would be easier, of course. And quicker.

For your afternoon flight - you could take the bus from Jaco to San Jose and then the bus from San Jose to the airport. It's not that hard and it's pretty quick, all in all. You could take the 7 o'clock bus from Jaco and arrive San Jose at 9:30 am. Then taxi to the Tuasa station (10 minutes) and get the bus to the airport. They run very frequently - about every 15 minutes or so. You could conceivably be at the airport by 10:30-10:45 if this works for you.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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4. Re: Getting Around Costa Rica - Help!

Good answers Hattie...great advice...hard to match your great advice...GRACIAS..

roadadvisor

5. Re: Getting Around Costa Rica - Help!

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