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questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area

Athens, AL, USA
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questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area

My husband, BT, and I are coming to Costa Rica for a vacation in November (7-15). We are staying at Pachamama in Punta Uva.

I have a few questions about transport between San Jose and Pachamama. Our flight gets into San Jose at about 1pm. We are planning to take the Mepe bus that leaves at 4pm. From searching forum posts, it sounds like it will take about 1-1.5 hours to get out of the airport. I saw a post of Colin’s that mentioned something about paying the $26 departure tax upon arrival – can this done at the airport? I’d love to get that out of the way so we don’t have to worry about lines/waits when the time comes for our 9am departure flight. I was also planning to change a small amount of dollars for colones at the airport so we’ll have money for the trip to Puerto Viejo – is that a good idea, or unnecessary?

I saw a post that mentioned Green Stone Adventures providing an airport to bus terminal / advance bus ticket reservation -- has anyone used that service? I was wondering if that might be a better option than taking an airport taxi and hoping bus tickets for that last bus would be available.

Does the Mepe bus stop at a particular place in Puerto Viejo where we would need to get off, or would that 4pm bus continue on so we could get off closer to Pachamama?

We are planning to take the Pacuare River rafting trip to get back to the airport area the day before our flight back home (hopefully that will ease the transition back towards reality!). The info for that trip says they will transport you to San Jose – I am trying to get a hotel closer to the airport (maybe Pura Vida Hotel in Alajuela), does anyone know if the river tour company would transport us to Alajuela, or would we need to get dropped off someplace in San Jose, then arrange further transport?

Our flight out is at 9am on Saturday, 15-Nov. What time will we need to get to the airport to safely make our flight?

If anyone has any further travel insights or tips, I’d most appreciate them.

This is such a cool forum!!! I have wanted to visit Costa Rica for a long time, and we are finally close to visiting there!!! I am so hyped! This is the first big trip my husband and I have been able to take together “just us”, and I just about can’t wait! I did the initial planning this spring and once I booked air transportation and found a place for us to stay, I let it go and concentrated on icky-old-work and such, but now that it’s starting to get close, I’ll have to admit now this trip is forefront in my mind!

Thank you for your advice!


Puerto Viejo, Costa...
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for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
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1. Re: questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area

What I always suggest to save time at the airport, is one person stand in line for airline check in and other person take passposrts and pay departure tax

To make that bus and not pay additional fees you can hire the driver we use and he will get your bus tickets ahead of time. He will meet you at the airport and take you straight to Caribe terminal for $20. His name is Manuel Acuna manacuro@hotmail.com

Mepe bus drops off in Puerto Viejo at bus stop. There will be taxis waiting. Cost should be no more then $12 to Pachamama. Make sure you confirm price before getting in cab.

Rafting company drops off at Hampton Inn. Then you get taxi to Pura Vida. Rafting company has good service in SJ, but spotty in Alajuela.

Hope that helps. Cheers, Colin.

Punta Uva, Costa...
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2. Re: questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area

I think Colin Answer everything, if you get to the airport by 7 am you should be ok.

San Francisco...
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3. Re: questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area

It shouldnt; take too long to clear customs and immigration and get out of the airport. on 3 trips to Cr it's usually taken about 30-45 minutes. As you leave the airport go to the left to where the official taxi stand is located. You will pay in advance and one of the licensed orange taxis will take you to the Carribe Terminal for about $20. No real need to get any colones as just about everybody will accept US$ and then give you colones as change. The bus to Puerto Viejo is about $8 and will drop you off at the bus stop in PV. There will be some taxis right across the street form the bus stop. The taxis don't have any signs on them are are usually private vehicles. The two times I've taken a taxi to Punta Uva (where Pachamama is located) it was either $10 or $6 depending on the driver. You should ask Bill at Pachamama is he might be able to arrange for a taxi to meet you at the bu.

I've never gotten my exit stamps in advance. Just have one person wait in line for ticketing and the other can get the exit stamps. You can get them is advance before you go to immigration but then you run the risk of loosing them or having to wait longer going through immigration/customs

San Jose, Costa Rica
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4. Re: questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area

My personal advice...do not worry about the departure tax...I fly to USA about once a month...and never ever had a problem or delay with the departure tax...

Just get out of the airport and enjoy my country...

Luis Road Advisor

Just buckle up and enjoy the ride in paradise!

Athens, AL, USA
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5. Re: questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area

Thank you all _so_ much!!! I am getting more confident about getting around in Costa Rica. Wow -- if it takes us less than an hour to get out of the airport, maybe we will even be able to make the 2pm Mepe bus!

I really appreciate all of your help and advice, and can't wait to visit beautiful Costa Rica! :)

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6. Re: questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area


I have a couple questions on the same topic/locations, but slightly different.

I'm in the planning stages of a trip and here are my questions -

1. Pachamama or closer to Puerto Viejo? What do you all suggest? Does the area where Pachamama is located have restaurants and a town closeby?

2. How long is the ride from San Jose to Puerto Viejo? I am thinking of either spending a night in San Jose (both before and after our trip to Puerto Viejo) or stopping along the way for a night or so. Are there any nice areas along the way?


N. Calif.
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7. Re: questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area


I can't answer your first question for sure. PV has many restaurant choices, but there are also a number along the road leading from PV on down towards Punta Uva. For fine dining, we really liked Pecora Nera and an Italian place the locals called Jenni's. We had breakfast each moring at a crepe place, can't recall the name.

We drove from Manuel Antonio to PV with an overnight stop near Guapiles. We stayed at Casa Rio Blanco www.casarioblanco.com We LOVED this place and wished we could have stayed longer. NIce cabins above the Rio Blanco, plus the hosts were great. It is about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hrs. to the airport and a handy stop on the way to PV.

Good luck,


Puerto Viejo de...
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8. Re: questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area

Pachamama / PV:

Depends what you're looking for. If you want to be closer to nightlife, etc or if you want more tranquility on the beaches. There's restaurants around the area and Bill's cooking at Pachamama is famous, but no town to speak of in Punta Uva...

Takes about 4-1/2 to 5 hrs to drive in good weather, more if you add rain/poor visibility, etc...

Sacramento, CA
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9. Re: questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area

Hi There!

My boyfriend and I stayed at Pachamama last January and already have reservations for this next January. Pachamama was a great choice and right across the street from the beautiful (not crowded) Punta Uva beach. There are a few restaurants nearby and a couple stores to stock your fridge with drinks, etc. When we stayed at Pachamama, our bungalow came with two bikes and I recommend taking the easy bike ride down the road to Manzanillo. There is a famous (and delicious)restaurant called Maxi's where you can order lobster and seafood galore.

Also, the rafting trip on the Pacuare was AWESOME! We're doing that again too. Just make sure to wear some sturdy water shoes and sun block :-)

Have a great trip!

P.S. Ask Bill at Pachamama to hook you up with a local taxi driver nicknamed Pupusa. He took us on a private little tour to an iguana farm and the waterfalls at Bri Bri. And he's funny.

Portland OR
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10. Re: questions on travel between San Jose and Puerto Viejo area

Sounds like a fun trip. I recently stayed at Pachamama (early Sept.), and it is fantastic. Great, great people. One place that no one mentions to eat is The Punta Uva Lounge right by the beach. It is only open during the day (at least when I was there - 11:00am to 5:00pm), but the food is outstanding (I've worked in fine dining restaurants for the past 20 years), the servers friendly, and the music and vibe really cool. Selvyn's is also close by, as well as Arrecife. Chili Rojo in PV is also very good. And we got a cab from PV to Pachamama a few times and it cost us 4000c, which is just under $8.