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Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

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Calgary, Canada
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26 posts
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Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

I just wanted to post a warning for anyone wanting to travel to the Caribbean coast from San Jose.

Be aware that most transport companies will NOT take you to the coast at night. I tried to arrange transport from San Jose to Puerto Viejo after 9 pm (when our plane landed) and could not find anyone to do it due to safety concerns on the highway (accidents, people/livestock on highway, poor visibility, etc...). I did not know this until after we had booked our trip and tried to arrange transport. I emailed at least 3 transport companies and not one would do it.

As a result, we ended up paying for 3 nights at La Perla Negra that we didn't stay there. I had emailed the hotel immediately, a month before we were due to arrive, when I discovered this to tell them we'd be arriving a day late, and checking out on the Thursday instead of Friday (which is essentially 2 days because we were checked out on time). In that email, I was told I could get a credit for the first night (still have that email), and then near the end of our stay, the manager, Wesley, told us if we checked out before noon, we'd get a credit for Thursday and Friday and to email Expedia about this.

I just got done with Expedia and the staff at the hotel totally lied. I don't know who the Expedia rep spoke to but the staff at the hotel said they were charging for the whole 11 days that we booked, even though I have an email from Firdous saying we'd get a refund for the first night, and the front desk guy, Wesley, told me I'd get a credit for the last two days, which my teen son also heard. Nice deception there guys, hope you sleep well ripping off a single mother and her son!! Will never stay there again, nor will I recommend your hotel to anyone!

I realize that this could have been avoided had I known that getting to the Caribbean coast at night is next to impossible, but I didn't find out until after I paid for the trip and tried booking transport about a month before we were to be there. This was our first time in Costa Rica, and definitely wont be our last, we both loved it there and plan to return (but to a different hotel, I don't appreciate liars and con artists!). I just wanted people to be aware of this and not get ripped off like we did (on top of this all, we also paid for 2 nights at a hotel in San Jose because of the time we arrived and the time we were to be at the airport when we were leaving). It is a 4+ hour drive to the Caribbean coast so please take that into consideration if you're booking a trip. If you're due to leave the airport early morning, you'll have to spend the night in San Jose so book accordingly. Lesson learned, will know for next time!

San Jose, Costa Rica
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46,047 posts
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1. Re: Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

SO SORRY...To bad to heard that...I drive very often people at night to Puerto Viejo from SJO and beaches around...it is a tricky road...but we costaricans drive it...all the time...is not like is a restriction or anything like that...just common sense!

roadadvisor

Calgary, Canada
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26 posts
5 reviews
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2. Re: Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

That's what I was told when I tried to book transport. Driving there and back during the day with interbus scared me a few times too, but like you said, Costa Ricans know that road! I couldn't imagine trying to drive it at night!! I guess due to the safety concerns, nobody would do it. I did get Interbus to take us there and back, but they, along with everyone else I contacted, only operate during daylight hours (and I'd recommend Interbus to anyone, excellent service!)

I just wanted people to be aware, especially first timers, like us, that it may interfere with hotel bookings depending on what time you land in SJO and what time you have to take your flight out. I will definitely be returning (tossing around the idea of living there, loved it SO much), but this time I'll know more about the transport side of things and book accordingly :)

Punta Uva, Costa...
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for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
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3. Re: Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

Most people that land at SJO after sunset, usually spend their first night near the airport and leave early the next morning. Of course there are transport company like Tucan Limo Services(roadadvisor's company) that will take you after it get dark. Highway #32 to the Caribbean side is dangerous going over the Continental Divide, and I would not recommend you drive it yourself.

Cahuita, Costa Rica
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for Cahuita
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27 reviews
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4. Re: Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

It really does depend on the weather and road conditions at the time. I know several drivers who collect groups from the airport after dark in private minibuses. I wouldn`t drive across the mountains in the dark myself but have done it countless times in the public bus. If there is heavy rain, then the road is dangerous due to low visibility and increased chance of landslides and the danger is obviously increased if you have these conditions at night.

If you are coming on vacation, I`d spend the night in San Jose and come early the next morning simply to enjoy the views.

Sorry to hear of your difficult experience. I hope you have resolved the problem with the hotel too.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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3,528 posts
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5. Re: Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

It is for safety reasons that responsible transportation companies would not do that transfer at night. The highway to Limon is a dangerous route with frecuent land slides and belive me you do not want to be trapped there at night. Better to spend the night in San Jose if you arrive at night and then just go the following day, you can even use the not expensive shared transfers with Interbus or grayline.

Cartago, Costa Rica
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6. Re: Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

I agree it is a dangerous route especially at night and worse if it rains

Grecia, Costa Rica
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916 posts
15 reviews
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7. Re: Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

Almost all the posts on this thread have given the traveler and those who read it excellent advice regarding night transport to the Caribbean coast, bottom line, stay in SJ and travel in the light of day. The CR news outlets often post the tragic news of vehicle crashes on that piece of road. Only one portrayed the trip as uneventful, driving the route "all the time", however, most Members here know better.

Perhaps the author should have changed part of the post to: "Be aware that most "RESPONSIBLE" transport companies will NOT take you to the coast at night.

Please have a great and safe visit to OUR beautiful country.

Calgary, Canada
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26 posts
5 reviews
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8. Re: Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

Nothing was resolved with the hotel, they lied to the Expedia staff when they called them to find out when we arrived and checked out. They admitted that we arrived a day late and checked out two days early and they were charging me the full rate, despite an email I had from the hotel saying I'd be credited the first night and then the manager telling me if we checked out at check out time (which we did, sat in the lobby for 2 hours with our luggage waiting for transport) we'd get a credit for the last two days as well. So as a result, we paid for three days we didn't stay there, on top of paying for 2 days in a hotel in SJO.

Nothing I can do about it except consider it a lesson learned and will definitely not be returning to that hotel next time we're in Puerto Viejo, nor will I recommend it to anyone (especially while we sat there in the lobby for two hours and had 2 staff members, the front desk guys, repeatedly ask us to post a good review on trip advisor, which I did, now I wish I could retract it!). I just figured they'd keep their word, a good faith gesture if you will. I surely didn't expect them to lie, especially when I have an email saying I'd get a credit!!

Next time I travel to Puerto Viejo, I'll know that you can't find transport in the evening hours to the Caribbean coast and book accordingly. Driving the highway to Limon in the daylight hours had some scary moments with the big trucks in the middle of the road and people walking on the road, I couldn't imagine doing it at night!

I just wanted others who are planning a trip to be aware of this so they don't get ripped off like we did. I did a fair amount of research when I booked this trip and didn't see it mentioned anywhere that travel to Limon is next to impossible at night (be it bus, shuttle, whatever). I only found out when I went to book transport. Again though, that is partially my fault as I should have contacted Expedia when I found out about this and we'd not be staying at the hotel the full time we had it booked due to the transportation issues, I know better now. Definitely a learning experience and I will be smarter next time :)

Calgary, Canada
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26 posts
5 reviews
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9. Re: Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

Cajon Traveler, good point, I should have titled this thread differently, but I don't see an edit option.

We DID have an amazing time in your country, the beauty is unimaginable, you definitely have to experience it to believe it! Never have I been so relaxed as I was in Costa Rica. I am already making plans for our next trip, we will most definitely be back. I've travelled all over the world, and Costa Rica is the only place I've ever considered visiting more than once!

Grecia, Costa Rica
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916 posts
15 reviews
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10. Re: Buyer beware - Transport to Caribbean coast

Jan F, again, sorry for all that happened, but you saw just a tiny piece of what we "live" everyday, maybe next time things will be spectacular, and you won't go home. Most of us ex-pats fell in love, have had our share of issues, but as my dear Grandmother always said.."A bad day in CR, is better than a good January day in b*tt freezin' Calgary". Go Flames!

Pura Vida