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Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

Girona, Spain
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Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

Hi everyone,

I wondered if anyone could advise us.

We are landing in Juan Santamaria international airport early afternoon where we are hiring a 4x4. Our first destination is Tortuguero and our plan is to drive on out of the Alajuela area about an hour and find a nice quiet place (not expensive!) to rest and sleep our first night en route to Cariari.

My question is, Google maps suggest we go from the airport southwards via San Jose onto Route 32 but to us it looks shorter going east via Heredia and catching the 32 outside Braulio Carrillo.Any thoughts? Also, anyone recommend us a nice place to stop off just for the night, or will we find plenty places on the way?

Thanks!

nebraska
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1. Re: Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

I would suggest you stay outside the city at La Boruca. It is a delightful & locally owned. tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g309293-d163298…

Also, you may want to wait until you return from Tortuguero before renting a car as it will just be sitting at the dock while you are there. You can take a taxi to La Boruca and they will help you with a shuttle to & from Moin for the boat to Tortuguero. It's just one possibility.

Costa Rica
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2. Re: Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

Good advice, joyceh, but from Alajuela, they will go to Pavona and not Moin to go to Tortuguero. And yes, I agree about the car -- but it will depend on where they are going after Tortuguero.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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3. Re: Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

La pavona your best option...

roadadvisor

ON, Canada
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4. Re: Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

<<"...it looks shorter going east via Heredia and catching the 32 outside Braulio Carrillo.">>

That's the way we went in March as we wanted to avoid going through San Jose (we left our hotel in Alajuela at 7 a.m.) I'm not sure how much time we saved ... it was very slow getting through Heredia, but we were getting caught up in traffic from people heading to work. I still think it was a better option at that time of day, but at the time that you're going, you might be faster going via San Jose. Going through Heredia is a confusing route ... don't rely on google maps for directions- you'll need a GPS, and we also had an OSM loaded on our ipad which helped a lot. (Also, don't rely on google maps for driving times in Costa Rica ... they usually underestimate by quite a bit.)

There are lots of accommodations in Heredia, but I didn't notice options beyond that - I think there is a hotel in Guapiles, but a closer location would be better .... so maybe the one mentioned above.

Where are you coming from when you arrive at SJO? If it's from Spain, I'm not sure I'd tackle that driving right away.

Re getting the rental right away vs shuttle - I explored those options and we chose to get the rental right away. It worked out well and we liked the flexibility of having our own vehicle, even though it mean leaving it in the parking lot for 2 nights - but I can see the advantage of taking a shuttle to La Pavona (or flying to Tortuguero) and having a rental delivered to La Pavona.

Re roadadvisor's comment "La pavona your best option" ... there are no accommodations in LaPavona ... I think he is referring to going there to get the boat to Tortuguero.

Edited: 17 May 2014, 14:52
Girona, Spain
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5. Re: Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

Thanks for the recommendations everyone.

Yes, I also found La Boruca, looks a nice place, so I'll check it out. We are indeed flying in from Spain, but my husband is an ace driver with a lot of experience on bad roads so I guess we can manage an hour's drive (or am I being over optimistic???!!!)

We did look into the option of taking a shuttle to Tortuguero and getting a hire car after but with 4 of us including 2 kids, it is cheaper and easier to rent a car and pay 10$ per day parking for the 3 days we are there (shuttle was about 100$ per person return to San Jose!!). After Tortuguero we then have the freedom to roam and enjoy stopping where we fancy.

Thanks for the advice.

ON, Canada
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6. Re: Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

I think you'll be OK for that drive.

A couple of things to keep in mind ... getting the rental car is a lengthy process (who are you renting from?) - it took us an hour from the time we met the rep for our rental agency until we pulled out of the airport parking lot.

Be sure when you leave the airport that you have enough US$ and Colones to get you through your stay in Tortuguero (no ATM's there ... you might be able to find a bank in Heredia with an ATM, but based on our experience, I wouldn't leave the airport without a supply of colones - we brought US$ with us.) If you are getting money at the airport, I've read that it's better to use the ATM's on the departures level rather than the arrival level.

Are you taking the public boat to Tortuguero? We took it there, but a private boat back. The private boat was worth the cost....a much more enjoyable trip back.

Have fun :)

Girona, Spain
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7. Re: Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

Thanks for your information SusanM2004. From what you say, are you suggesting we go from the airport via Heredia instead of San Jose to Cariari?

nebraska
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8. Re: Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

We went from La Boruca to Moin to meet the boat to Tortuguero.

Costa Rica
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9. Re: Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

Why? That seems like the long way - but I'm sure you had a reason...? It's about 3 hours from San Jose to Moin and about 3 hours in the boat (or a bit more......) From San Jose to Pavona is about 3 hours and then an hour in the boat. Maybe you just like the longer boat ride? Or were you going from Tortuguero to the southern Caribbean?

ON, Canada
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10. Re: Route from Juan Santamaria airport to Tortuguero.

emma - I mentioned that we did that to avoid San Jose traffic in the morning, but not sure if it makes sense for you to do that in mid-afternoon. Someone familiar with traffic patterns in San Jose would be able to advise better ... maybe roadadvisor?

This site was a good help to us as it has detailed directions from Guapiles to LaPavona: http://www.tortuguerovillage.com/driving.htm

Joyceh ... just curious why you chose Moin instead of LaPavona?